the Achilles heel of universities

Studying in the age 2.0 with visual impairment, a parcours? This is the observation of the French Federation of the Blind, pushing to improve the digital accessibility of universities and showing concrete ways.

When Camille, a visually impaired veterinary student, loses patience with illegible documents being sent in from her faculty, she usually has only one solution: call a friend. ” It’s the joker of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”, except that in the end you just win the right to sit the exam ‘ the young woman joked. Like her, many blind or partially sighted students find it difficult to follow their school lessons normally because ” digital brakes “. Lack of Braille translation, screen reading problems, almost no digital university library… There are many obstacles. From registration to timetable tracking, taking notes in class to administrative issues, obstacles appear at every level of school education.

Poor digital accessibility and unemployment

Out of 59 university websites surveyed by the Association of the Blind and Amblyopic in France (FAAF) in 2022, only two have produced an accessibility statement that meets legal obligations, based on the General Repository for Improving Accessibility (RGAA) . In order to change the situation, the association organized a webinar on November 15, 2022 on digital accessibility in higher education, aimed at university management. objective ? ” Improving the digital accessibility of education in France », an essential requirement for giving the visually impaired access to employment. For the observation is bitter,” more than half are unemployed ‘ according to the FAAF.

Teachers don’t always listen

Before sharing best practices, this webinar focused on feedback. Enrolled in the Masters mention intervention and social development ‘, focused on disability and dependency, Anne-Sophie has every effort in the world to follow her teaching. ” I feel like I have unequal access compared to others “, the young woman regrets the professional retraining. When she benefits from the help of her disability officer within the university, the teachers do not always cater to her special needs. So when Anne-Sophie receives a PowerPoint presentation via email, she can only decipher a quarter of the information with her screen reader. ” Lots of hidden text ‘ she emphasizes. If it takes some people only twenty minutes to read a document, it takes him two or three hours. just to scan it and understand “.” I dream of being able to devote myself to study, but it’s not possible ‘ the student continues. This ” mental strain “Moreover, Camille learns it all the time. ” In class, I take my time to understand, listen to what the teacher is saying, look for information in the document… That’s too many actions to manage at the same time “, She explains.

According to Franck, a former museology student, the main barrier remains ” the lack of access to digital resources, which just makes it possible to compensate for the lack of accessibility of resources ‘Paper'”. These are all books or magazines which could be accessible online, but not because universities don’t have subscriptions “.

How to comply?

Learning costs students with disabilities and these costs must be kept to a minimum warns Fabienne Méducin, teacher at the University of Orléans. However, digital accessibility training in French higher education can now be counted on one hand. ” Mostly offered on a voluntary basis, they are perceived as a waste of time, although they save us all ‘ continues Julie Charles, Education Engineer at the University of Angers. Training for teachers and education teams is good, but training for website developers is even better. ” We need to embed digital accessibility at the heart of the business. This must be included in the software specifications » recommends Endjy Guerchet, lecturer in digital accessibility at the University of Bordeaux. ” So we have to start with an inventory, train specialists, set up quality controls, and all of this has to be done together with all universities and associations. », concludes Endjy Guerchet. Not forgetting the RGAA Audit Kit, a complete roadmap provided by the Interministerial Digital Department that contains the instructions to carry out the audit of a website, intranet or extranet (sample of pages, applicable criteria, compliance rate…) and the can be useful!

“All reproduction and display rights reserved. © This article was written by Clotilde Costil, journalist of”

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