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Return to SENDA? Implementing accessibility for disabled students in virtual learning environments in UK further and higher education

1. Aims and objectives

The aim of this research is to investigate the current state of knowledge concerning the accessibility for disabled students of virtual learning environments (VLEs) in UK further education (FE) and higher education (HE) institutions, particularly since the introduction of SENDA – the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001.

The study builds on existing research on the accessibility of the ‘end-product’ (i.e. the VLE course itself) - for example Stiles (2001), Evans and Sutherland (2002). It maps the points along the ‘critical path’ of VLE-based courses where accessibility problems originate, and makes recommendations about ways in which accessibility for UK students using VLEs can be improved.

The study is based on:

  • an extensive literature review
  • an online survey, and
  • a series of interviews with individuals from a number of contrasting FE and HE institutions.

It uses both quantitative and qualitative data to elucidate the (mainly) non-technical factors that influence the accessibility of VLE-delivered courses in FE and HE institutions.

This report first defines the terms used in the research, and the scope of the study. Sections 4 to 6 map the broad issues in post-16 education, in disability in education, in e-learning and in web and VLE accessibility. The focus narrows in section 7 to the specific results of this research. The final sections outline conclusions and recommendations.


All pages and content copyright © Sara Dunn 2003, unless otherwise stated.