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24 May 2022

Deakin wins big at the Accessibility in Action awards

In recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (G.A.A.D.), the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (A.D.C.E.T.) kicked off the festivities this year with the Accessibility in Action awards. An online event brought together colleagues from across the Australian tertiary education sector to connect and recognise the work being done to improve accessibility and make education more inclusive. 

The inaugural Accessibility in Action Awards went to three individuals and thirteen teams and projects to recognise the impact they have on improving accessibility for students or staff. Deakin was well represented in this list with the following projects, teams and one individual.

‘Wonderful to see this great work recognised and to remember that the real winners are our communities; staff, students and partners,’ said Professor Liz Johnson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic.

The breadth of award recipients from Deakin covers the student journey from Orientation to graduation and illustrates a commitment to digital accessibility across the University. Take a look at the award winners and learn more about the important work being done in this space.

Teams & projects award recipients

Embedding Accessibility award

Course Review and Renewal Project, CloudFirst Team

The CloudFirst team  won the Embedding Accessibility award for developing the CloudFirst HTML accessible templates. The CloudFirst template is geared toward embedding inclusive digital design into regular unit design practice at Deakin. The CloudFirst templates are now used as the basis of the OneDeakin template, currently being designed and developed to help lift the minimum standards of unit sites across Deakin.

First Impressions Matter award

Orientation Team

The Orientation Team won the First Impressions Matter award for designing and building a new Unified Orientation program that reduced barriers to engagement and provided all students with a sense of belonging and connection. Deakin students can now engage with Orientation sessions and resources designed with inclusivity at the core and delivered in accessible, synchronous and asynchronous modes that meet a range of needs and preferences. This provides every student with a positive, inclusive, and welcoming first experience with Deakin.

Championing Accessibility award

Accessibility Champions Project

The Accessibility Champions are a team of academics and professional staff embedded across Deakin representing many divisions, faculties and teams. They build resources, engage in consultations and champion accessibility from their position within their teams. As Ismail Zengin, Learning Environments Developer, Deakin Learning Futures said in his acceptance of this award, ‘I joined this team because I once was asked by a staff member who I helped with an accessibility issue, ‘Where can I go to get help like this in the future’. At the time I didn’t have an answer for him. Now I am part of the answer.’

Sharing & Advocating Accessibility award

SWAT team (Students with Assistive Technology)

The SWAT team is a student-led initiative that has undertaken unit site testing, developed podcast interviews with other students with a disability, and advised and supported a range of students with assistive technology workarounds and knowledge. Their advocacy work is multifaceted and ranges from peer-to-peer interactions to making recommendations to university wide practices and procedures.

Setting a Higher Standard award

Active Reading Resource Guide

The Learning Innovation (S.E.B.E.) team and the Library developed an Active Reading guide that is accessible and, where needed, provides text versions to eliminate access barriers for students to support their core reading skills for both study and future professional roles. The driving force for the guide was to give students agency to utilise their readings to help them find an approach that works for them. 

Improving Information Access award

Kat Fisher and Sue Rolland, Deakin University Student Association 

Sue and Kat made The Deakin University Student Association (D.U.S.A.) newsletter and the website accessible to meet W.C.A.G. standards. Making this digital content accessible benefits not only blind and vision-impaired people, but also people with cognitive and learning disabilities and those with motor disabilities. This work makes a significant contribution to our students feeling valued and included and paves the way towards full and equal participation.

Individual award recipient

Leading By Example award

Francois Jacobs

Francois is tireless in his support of other blind students, helping them to navigate Deakin websites and unit sites, which is an integral requirement for study. This has enabled his fellow students to continue with their studies, achieve academically and to adopt self-sustaining study habits.

Of course, there are many more amazing teams and individuals working on digital inclusion at Deakin. Over the following weeks and months, the Inclusive Education team hope to provide activities, events and platforms where we can connect, share and celebrate this work – and maybe next year, we can have an even more excellent showing for G.A.A.D. Please share your story with us and let us know about your fantastic work!

If you missed out on attending and would like to relive this incredible event, you can access the recording of ADCET: Celebrating Accessibility in Action Awards.

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