Griffith is committed to best practice in accessibility and inclusion
As part of Griffith University’s commitment to accessibility and inclusion under the Disability Action Plan, we invite Groups and Elements to submit case studies for inclusion on the accessibility and inclusion on this site that reflect the goals of the Disability Action Plan. By including examples of ‘good practice’ in accessibility and inclusion, staff can share ideas, and explore opportunities to collaborate.
To submit your example of good practice, please complete the best practice example form.
Features and benefits
Project Open Doors provides dedicated media coverage and support to the disability sector and change the way the disability community is reported in the media, and perceived by the community at large. The School has a commitment to develop and implement Work-integrated Learning (WIL) projects that not only provide significant learning opportunities but are of service to our communities.
Working in conjunction with our industry partners and special interest groups, the main goal of Project Open Doors is to provide responsible and informed media coverage that includes an active presence and voice for the disability community, that is guided and informed by the disability community.
A dedicated website can be explored at https://projectopendoors.org/
The project was launched in 2017 and has already produced a series of digital stories and coverage of issues facing people with a disability, moving beyond the stereotypical media representations of disability. These stories worked toward highlighting many of the issues faced by, misconceptions and misunderstandings around, people living with disability and their family members.
Research activity and work-integrated learning activities are a continuing part of the project.
Best practice examples
Griffith Business School: Online inclusion in the business world was the 2016 Winner of Vice Chancellor’s Excellent Awards for Outstanding Innovation in Service for Online Accessibility Team of Vikki Ravaga, Office of the Pro Vice Chancellor (Business) and Cathy Easte (Disability Services, Student Services).
The design and development of units in the Bachelor of Business for Open Universities Australia at Griffith University’s Business School have centred on giving all students equal learning opportunities. This approach to online learning embraces individual learning differences and Universal Design principles. While pockets of good practice in learning design feature across the University, the BBus has embraced inclusion from the start. This innovative approach has ensured course material development across the entire degree program is entirely inclusive, relying less upon the Disabilities Service to make adjustments for students.
This approach features:
- workshops on designing for accessibility as part of the 'induction' process for convenors developing and teaching online units
- transcripts of all audio and video components within units
- accessible files to be uploaded in the online learning and teaching platform
- 'Universal' instructions for formatting learning materials and resources, for example, the description of YouTube clips in a large first year unit: The Workforce is Changing rapidly - How Will You Manage?
- transcribers sitting in on live, virtual classroom sessions providing closed captions so Deaf/Hard of Hearing students could participate and interact fully in class
- adjusting the delivery of sessions in live, virtual classroom sessions and the unit web site to accommodate a blind student using assistive technologies
These practices have developed strong awareness of accessibility with convenors teaching online units. Convenors now understand the underlying rationale for these accessibility practices and adapt to them appropriately for continuous improvement of units, apply them consistently across all course materials and have found them to be cost-effective. A YouTube video which captures a Convenor’s experience with using collaborate sessions (with captioning) highlights these innovations.
From a management perspective, the practices highlight:
- the benefits of designing for accessibility in online courses
- the opportunities for GBS and Griffith University more broadly to build on, and learn from, the experiences to date about making online learning inclusive
- the 'community of best practice' fostered by teaching staff
- the support of senior management within GBS
Students have reported immediate and positive outcomes including the opportunity for unit convenors and students to engage in virtual learning more deeply and effectively regardless of their learning context. In 2014-2015, this has been reflected in the increased satisfaction from students in unit evaluation reports. In answer to the question, 'I was able to access all online elements such as graphic, audio, video', Figure 1 shows high levels of satisfaction (3.2 and above) from study period 2, 2014 (when the initiative began) to 2015 (each score is a rating out of 4).
Figure 1: Summary of online access responses from unit satisfaction reports, 2014-2015.
Feedback from a Deaf student:
'… all learning materials are accessible, online classrooms are accessible and the whole environment encourages students to share their diverse needs. I have undertaken a number of courses with other universities and currently also undertaking a course with another Griffith School but never have I experienced such openness and inclusivity regarding my studies… I am impressed with Griffith, the whole environment makes me want to achieve more.'
The Griffith University Online Style Guide is designed to provide an overview of the design of a Griffith Online course. This will facilitate adherence to consistent standards in design practice across all courses within the Griffith Online suite of programs. It is important for Griffith University’s brand to meet student expectations and maintain quality and consistency across our online courses.
- Easily to follow video tutorials (which are captioned and available as transcripts)
- Provides information for redesigning or creating sites from start to finish
- Provides useful tips and resources to add to sites
- Provides students with a consistent experience within the Learning@Griffith area
- Helps academic staff to develop course sites which are accessible and easy to navigate for students
- Helps staff meet branding guidelines, web accessibility guidelines, and meet copyright requirements
Access Plus is an automated service for the conversion of documents to a range of formats to meet the needs of people with print disabilities. Griffith University has purchased the licensing agreement for this product to support students with print disabilities and support staff who produce course materials for students with disabilities at Griffith.
Access Plus is a self-service solution that automates the conversion of documents into a range of alternative formats including digital Braille, MP3, DAISY and e-books. The service can also be used to convert otherwise inaccessible documents such as image-only PDF files or scanned images into more accessible formats.
The product – originating in Denmark as ‘SensusAccess’ – is licensed to academic institutions in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States. Griffith University will be the first University in Australia to implement this product to assist students with disabilities.
The Access Plus Document Conversion Centre is a self-service solution that automates the conversion of documents into a range of alternative formats including digital Braille, MP3, DAISY and e-books. The service can also be used to convert otherwise inaccessible documents such as image-only PDF files or scanned images into more accessible formats.
Access Plus sits within Learning@Griffith and all students with disabilities are granted automatic access to it. Staff can request access.
Options for conversion include:
- Audio services. Conversion into plain MP3 files and well as DAISY Talking Books, including Daisy books with spoken math. The audio conversion features currently include high-quality voices
- E-book services. Documents can be converted into EPUB, EPUB3, EPUB3 with media overlays and Mobi Pocket (Amazon Kindle) e-book formats. Furthermore, EPUB may be converted into Mobi Pocket and vice versa. To accommodate users with low vision, the base line of the body text in an e-book may be raised to allow for more appropriate text scaling in mainstream e-book readers.
- Accessibility services. Otherwise inaccessible documents such as image files in GIF, TIFF, JPG, BMP, PCX, DCX, J2K, JP2, JPX, DJV and image-only PDF, as well as all types of PDF files can be converted to more accessible formats including tagged PDF, DOC, DOCX, Word XML, XLS, XLSX, CVS, text, RTF and HTML. The service furthermore supports conversion of Microsoft Office documents into tagged pdf and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations into RTF files and web-projects.
- Braille. Transcription of documents to and from contracted and uncontracted Braille. The documents can furthermore be formatted and paginated, and delivered as ready-to-emboss files in a variety of digital Braille formats.
Accessing Access Plus
If you are a student and you don’t automatically have access to it please email firstname.lastname@example.org
For staff who support students with disabilities e.g. staff who need to produce accessible course materials to support students with disabilities please email email@example.com
Benefits and outcomes
Over 1800 students are already enrolled to use Access Plus. The program allows students to be more self-directed learners by allowing students to access learning materials from a range of sources and converting to formats that work best for their own learning. This software is available 24/7 and so students and staff don’t have to wait to access support from Disabilities Service in order to access materials in alternative formats
Staff can improve accessibility of learning materials through this program as well.
Campus Life undertakes refurbishment and new construction works through the University’s campuses. All new construction work complies with the latest DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) requirements. Refurbishments activities also bring existing spaces to a code compliant standard.
A number of projects has been selected to demonstrate the work being undertaken in accommodating DDA in the University’s physical assets.
Selected completed projects include:
- Nathan Campus - NT4 Accommodation Annex which includes self-contained 2 bed accommodation designed to accommodate the needs of students with a disability.
- Mt Gravatt Campus - M06 Education Refurbishment which has seen improved accessibility of teaching spaces and amenities
- South Bank Campus - S05 QCA Lecture Theatre & Gallery Refurbishment which has seen the removal of barriers for people with disability.
- Gold Coast Campus - G45 Aquatic Centre which has been built with people with disabilities in mind and will be a major asset to students and the location for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Some emerging projects include Campus Mobility Maps and the Gold Coast Campus – East-West Pedestrian Spine which are currently in progress. Mobility maps are being prepared for Nathan and Mt Gravatt campuses are due to be completed in early 2018. Mobility maps for South Bank, Logan and Gold Coast campuses are scheduled for 2018.
The East-West Pedestrian Spine project is an integral part of the campuses Master Plan. The project is being staged and once complete will provide a compliant accessible path of travel between Engineering Drive (East) to University Drive (West). Stage 1 from Multimedia Lane to Alumni Place is currently being constructed.
Each of the areas being improved or refurbished has the needs of people with disabilities in mind.
Key considerations of refurbishment projects include principles of universal design and liveability or usability. In the case of accommodation this includes Livable Housing Australia design guidelines, statutory compliance, and Australian Standards.
In many cases projects exceed minimum standards. Some key accessibility features for campus amenities include:
- Easy to navigate in & around;
- Capable of being adapted to respond to the changing needs users
- Height adjustable
- Automatic entry door
- Emergency call systems (where relevant)
- Wheelchair accessible toilets and showers and where appropriate unisex wheelchair accessible toilets
- Braille & tactile signage
- Toilets reconfigured to incorporate;
- Accessibility parking
- Removing staggered stairs or fixed seating
- Swimming pool hoists for people with disabilities
Benefits and outcomes
There are a range of benefits to creating campus spaces which are fully accessible to all students.
In the case of accommodation there is greater independence for students with disabilities to live on campus and for people using the Aquatice Centre full access and enjoyment of these facilities.
Compliant and accessible campuses also benefit staff, students and visitors with disabilities by creating:
- Fully accessible campuses and amenities without barriers
- A sense of inclusion in the Griffith community
- Reduces trip hazards and improves safety
- Benefits other users such as people with prams and people transporting goods
- Ease of mobility, navigation, access and connectivity across the campus
- Aesthetically pleasing, flexible and enticing learning environments
Tim Powell, Senior Architect
Mental Health First Aid – Roll out to staff in Health Group
The Mental Health First Aid course is a 2 day program developed by the Centre For Mental Health Research at the Australian National University. It aims to educate and empower participants to provide appropriate support to clients, colleagues, and/or community members experiencing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis situation.
Mental Health First Aid benefits a range of staff within the Health Group. In particular the following roles have been a particular focus for the program roll-out: Managers, front office personnel, teachers, counsellors, rehab coordinators, HR personnel, security, and workplace health and safety staff.
The program is very practical and develops skills in initial intervention which are useful for anyone who comes in contact with people experiencing a mental health issue. The program is very effective in improving mental health literary, reducing stigma and increasing helping behaviour in the workplace, within families and communities.
The Health Group has actively promoted the Program across the Health Group in addition to existing staff wellbeing program activities. In addition, the Health Group has sponsored the Transdisciplinary Resilience Student Bundle and Teacher Toolkit through a Learning and Teaching Grant submitted by Andrew Teodorczuk (School of Medicine). This kit will equip students to better deal with mental health challenges and burnout associated with the high pressures of today's learning environment
Tony Perkins, Dean Academic
Griffith Business School (GBS) re-purposed existing teaching spaces in N50 Business 1 and G42 Griffith Business School to create digitally-enabled or “flipped” classrooms on the Gold Coast and Nathan campuses. In doing so it was our intention to enrich the learning experience for our students in accordance with our strategic goal to deliver a remarkable student learning experience: one characterised by …. the potential of new technology to deliver content in innovative and practical ways.
We were keen to ensure this remarkable student learning experience would be inclusive and accessible to all. As such, we were cognisant of the need to ensure design compliance with the relevant building codes and Australian Standards, particularly those related to disability access.
Features and benefits
Our digitally enabled classrooms incorporate adjustable furniture to facilitate disability access to ensure all students can participate in interactive group discussions and engage fully with the classroom experience.
‘The flipped classroom described a reversal of traditional teaching where students gain first exposure to new material outside of class, usually via reading or lecture videos, and then class time is used to do the harder work of assimilating that knowledge through strategies such as problem-solving, discussion or debates.’ (Vanderbilt University, Center for Teaching).
Lisa Cotterell, Executive Officer
Graduate Business School
Griffith's Disabilities Service and Careers and Employment Service are collaborating to support students with disabilities who are near to or graduated to find employment which meets both their career aspirations and provides a supportive and inclusive working environment.
Students with disabilities can experience greater challenges in securing employment compared with graduates without a disability. The 2015 Graduate Destinations Report showed graduates with a disability in full-time employment at 56.2% compared with those without a disability at 68.8%. These programs aim to enhance and build awareness that students with a disability or health condition may need additional assistance to overcome some barriers and prejudice to full employment.
The Disabilities Service has developed a number of local and national partnerships where students with disabilities can find employment with disability-friendly organisations. This support is in addition to the range of programs and initiatives that all students receive through Careers and Employment. Key collaborations include:
- The University Specialist Employment Partnership (USEP) program which is a collaboration with the National Disability Coordination Office (NDCO) and Mylestones Employment to provide access to an on-campus employment service aimed to meet the specific needs of graduating or graduated students with disability An experienced University Specialist Recruitment Consultant is available on campus two days per week to explore with students their career interests.
- EPIC Assist is a not-for-profit organisation providing personalised service to assist people with a disability to achieve their goals. EPIC stays with you on your journey until their assistance is no longer needed, resulting in success for all—participants, employers and the community. EPIC also works closely with employers, taking the time to understand their business and its unique needs in order to match you with employment opportunities.
- The Australian Network on Disability is a national organisation that aims to make it easier for organisations to welcome people with disability in all aspects of business. The organisation gives support, training and facilitates knowledge and networking opportunities to create disability-confident recruiters. AND has a range of initiatives to provide opportunities for graduates including internships and mentoring.
- GradAccess is a centralised recruitment stream for people with disability into Australian Public Service graduate programs. GradAccess is a safe and supported entry point to a fulfilling career in the Australian Public Service. The GradAccess team will offer you friendly and professional support throughout the entire process.
Benefits and outcomes
These initiatives increase the range of graduate opportunities for students with a disability or health condition and link students to organisations with experience in working with people with disabilities. To date more than 30 students have registered with USEP during the pilot period and there has been increased awareness by students of these opportunities.
For more information visit Disabilities Service Inclusive Employment page
Refurbishment of N44 Engineering Space.
The Engineering curriculum has been revised to incorporate experiential learning. As part of the implementation of the revised curriculum, the N44 Level 0 Engineering Laboratory to refurbished in 2017.
The refurbishments also incorporated increasing accessibility to students with disabilities. The features were incorporated for seamless integration to avoid students with disabilities being singled out.
The features include:
- Accessible servery for all students
- All tables provided in labs, studios and breakout rooms are height adjustable to allow access for students in wheelchairs or those unable to sit for prolonged periods into the class rather than setting up a separate station.
- All Lab stools are adjustable down to 750mm for lab partner to work alongside.
- In the make/fabrication laboratory one section of island benches have adjustable powered bench.
- The laser cutters have drop down door for low access and a 3D printer is also at a reachable distance.
Students with disabilities have been able to actively participate in their programs and the students are fully integrated into the class. The students do not have special work benches, making it an inclusive work environment.
The activities contribute to achievement of the goals identified in the Disability Action Plan, in particular developing an inclusive culture that values the contribution of people with disabilities and enables them to actively participate in the life of university.
Rima Ismail-Jones, Executive Officer, Sciences