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21 May 2024

Deakin staff win at the 2024 Accessibility in Action Awards!

Congratulations to all the Deakin staff who have won a 2024 Accessibility in Action award! Run by the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET), the Accessibility in Action Awards recognise individuals, project teams and initiatives across the higher education community that have made significant contributions to advancing accessibility and promoting inclusive practices in education and training.

The awards were announced at an online event bringing together experts and advocates to acknowledge and honour the winners and their significant contributions. These awards and commendations are a testament to Deakin’s commitment to creating a truly inclusive and accessible space for students at Deakin.

The work of Deakin recipients covered a diverse range of accessibility and inclusion work including Students as Partners, student website uplift, development of an Auslan unit for students and the Accessibility Champions Group.

‘Congratulations to all our winning teams. Deakin’s continued success showcases our sustained commitment to improving these students’ experience and our teams’ skill in realising this ambition. Commitment to inclusion of diverse capabilities and experiences enriches us all.’

– Deakin Distinguished Professor Liz Johnson, Senior Vice-Chancellor Academic

Project Team winners

HDS727 – Auslan and the Deaf Community Course

Dr Amie O’Shea, Ramas McRae, Haley Martin, Maz Thomas, Paula Thornton

Dr Amie O’Shea, Senior Lecturer at Deakin University, partnered with Deaf community leaders to put together an incredible unit called Auslan and the Deaf Community: Health and Wellbeing. The unit is the first of its kind in Australia, was well subscribed to by students, and combined Auslan language instruction with Deaf cultural education. The unit was delivered to a range of different student cohorts (undergraduate, postgraduate, across a range of disciplines). The unit was an excellent example of community knowledge and lived experience coming together with academic and Deaf community members and allies to create an outstanding pedagogical experience.

Accessibility Champions project

Bex Carruthers, Tara Draper, Michael Wright, Lisa Forster, April Bjork, Bec Muir, Mary Rabahi, Mahen Jayawardena, Karen Lake, Pennie White, Bhavya Dhamankar, Ambili Sasihadran, Angie Williamson, Danni Hamilton, Elizabeth Delacretaz, David Eckstein, Ismail Zengin, Nicolas Bennett, Francesca Bussey, Kim Jones, Matthew Griffiths, Puva P Arumugam, Tricia Ong, Kat Cain, Liza Marsh, Shane McIver, Darren Britten

The Accessibility Champions Program (ACP) at Deakin University enhances digital inclusivity and develops accessibility leadership capabilities to support student success and retention. The program is focused towards reducing barriers to participation for all learners through a series of strategically targeted accessibility practices and approaches. The ACP consists of digital accessibility specialists embedded within diverse faculties and portfolios, working in multi-disciplinary partnerships as change agents focused on advocacy and actions that promote a culture of digital inclusion.

The Champions work in a unique distributed leadership model, emphasising ongoing capability-building initiatives and mentoring leadership opportunities for the staff involved. The program also provides annual grants to support the Champion’s professional development. It provides mentored opportunities to experience stakeholder and project management, accessibility advocacy, resource development, and promoting digital accessibility concepts university wide.

Equity-First Student as Partners: Students Mentoring Staff

Cassandra Iannucci, Sam Geddes, Lisa Hanna

The Equity-First Students as Partners team at Deakin University created an innovative ‘Students Mentoring Staff’ initiative. This initiative exemplifies a significant contribution to advancing accessibility and promoting inclusive practices within the educational sector. By engaging students as mentors to staff, this program has focused on improving educational practices for students with disability while benefiting all students with more inclusive and responsive teaching methods.

The program facilitates partnerships where students share their unique perspectives and guide staff in creating more accessible learning environments. Key activities include:

  • Direct 1:1 mentorship sessions where students and staff connect, build relationships, and gain insight into their lived experiences.
  • Student mentors educate staff on various accessibility challenges or experiences and ideas for solutions and supports.
  • Opportunities for a collaborative approach to reviewing course materials to maximise inclusive practices and accessibility for students.
  • Collaborative dialogue on practical strategies for enhancing inclusivity in classroom settings.

Student Web uplift

Fiona Greig, Steven Richards, Megan Smith, Cheryl Young, Lauren Gwyn, Abby Smith, Jessica Kalamaris

The Project Team totally transformed the Student Website through this project.

The Students Website project aimed to revolutionise the student web experiences, delivering 100% accessibility compliance for both users and authors. With over 13 million views annually, the Student Website is a vital platform, housing 2,400 pages authored by 350 individuals. Addressing accessibility gaps and governance deficiencies, the project achieved WCAG AA compliance, resolving 2,902 A and 206 AA issues. It established governance frameworks, content standards, and accountability structures while providing comprehensive author training. The outcomes include 100% WCAG AA compliance, PDF accessibility, 20 accessible content tools, and improved external benchmarking. Late last year, the team also assisted in creating accessible content tools for the University Library website, further enhancing the student experience across their entire journey and supporting their colleagues.

You can visit the ADCET website to learn more about the other winners of the 2024 Accessibility in Action Awards. 

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