Making teaching and learning accessible – upcoming workshop

by | Jan 17, 2022 | Inclusive teaching

Amal Al-Amin and Rachel CowenUniversity colleagues are invited to a talk to learn more about accessible teaching and learning in higher education on 19th January (12-1pm), which has been arranged by Amal Al-Amin (Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Officer in FSE) and Rachel Cowen (Director of the Centre for Academic and Researcher Development in FBMH and University Lead for Equality Diversity and Inclusion (Gender and Sexual Orientation Equality)). I caught up with Amal and Rachel to hear more about this session and the work it has come out of, and how colleagues can find out more about accessible teaching and learning.   


How was this session developed?  

Over the last few months we’ve been leading the staff workshops for the Accessibility network group within the Flexible Learning Programme (FLP), bringing together colleagues to explore how we can create an inclusive and accessible teaching and learning environment for all staff and students at Manchester. Within these sessions, we have heard powerful testimonies and reflections from the lived experience of colleagues, which has had a real impact on the thinking of the group’s members and is shaping our recommendations going forward.  We wanted to provide a similar opportunity to colleagues more widely to hear some of the experiences and perspectives shared, and to provide a space to reflect on what a truly inclusive and accessible environment looks like – and how we might get there. 


Can you tell us a bit about your speakers?  

Jessica Boland (Senior Lecturer, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering) is the Co-Chair of the National Association of Disabled Staff Networks.  We asked her to come along to our first workshop to share her extensive experience of inclusive education and her personal experiences as a deaf academic, once student.  Jessica has also advised funders and national policy-makers in this area (receiving the Institute of Physics Jocelyn Bell Burnell medal for her outstanding work to promote diversity and accessibility in STEM), and has a lot of experience and top tips to share that the network group found really illuminating and helpful.  Mary McGee Wood (Honorary Lecturer, Department of Computer Science) has been a really insightful contributor in our workshops, sharing her expertise in supporting neurodiverse learners and the impact of different learning styles helping us to widen the narrative about what inclusion means.  Their input has been so impactful and well-received that we asked Jessica and Mary if they would be willing to take part in a University-wide session that we could open up to all colleagues.  


What are you hoping colleagues will get from this session?  

We want others to be able to hear Jessica and Mary’s perspectives and personal stories, and to have the opportunity to reflect on what makes an accessible learning environment and the difference this can make.  We want to further explore the steps we can take to ensure our teaching and learning practices are inclusive for all, as opposed to making case-by-case amendments to our teaching design  for separate individual (and known) needs. We also want to hear from colleagues across the University in order to increase the number of voices feeding into the Accessibility network group’s work and the wider FLP strategy.   


Who is this session for?  

All staff are welcome, whether in academic or professional services roles; you can come along if you are in a teaching or supporting learning role, or if you are just interested in inclusive and accessible teaching and learning.  This session is being offered to staff; there is a separate student network group on Accessibility running in parallel to the staff group, and the two will ultimately come together.   


If colleagues are interested but can’t take part on 19th January, can they view a recording of the session?  

Yes, our intention is to record the session and make it available for staff to view at a later date. 


In what other ways can colleagues get involved in this area and contribute to change?   
  • Once all workshops have taken place, the outcomes of the Accessibility network groups (staff and student workshops) will feed into the University’s Flexible Learning strategy.  If you are not already part of the network group but would like to feed into it, you can contact the FLP team at (the deadline for input on this phase of work is the end of February 2022).  
  • The Institute of Teaching and Learning will be offering a series of workshops in the second half of the academic year; these will include sessions focusing on a range of aspects of inclusive teaching and learning (this programme will be published on the ITL Events page).  You may also wish to explore upcoming sessions within your faculty or service – FBMH, for example, have sessions taking place soon on inclusive pedagogy. 


To register for the online session with Jessica Boland and Mary McGee Wood on 19th January (12-1pm), complete the booking form and a link will be sent to you ahead of the session.