Thursday, July 15, 2010

Diversity and equity

image via weheartit

I’ve been reading about including provisions for diverse needs all over the place. Yesterday on fbi radio there was a segment on an event called Sencity. It’s was born out of a project in Holland that tried to make the impossible possible in music. The result is a club night that tours the world designed to stimulate all the senses and bring the deaf and hearing community together. There’s food, music, vibrating dancefloors, aromas and and visual displays all coordinated so that everyone present can experience the same thing.

Last week at NCVER 2010 No Frills, a key note address was given by Trevor Gale on student equity in vocational education. He suggested that although vocational education is one of the most accessible forms of training, it lags behind tertiary education in terms of delivering student equity. One quote (that I have to paraphrase because I don’t have access to his presentation) was that in adopting an attitude to treat all students the same, educators automatically validate and help to perpetuate the cycle of disadvantage that people with diverse needs experience. Interesting stuff.

Then, I read about a way for bloggers to better accommodate visually impaired readers. Apparently alternative text for links and images goes a long way to help visually impaired readers to get through a blog post easily. I’ve tried to include the suggestions in this post and hope to do so in the future.

But what about private education? Purely from personal observation, I don’t know that there are a lot of efforts made by private enterprises to include alternatives for people with diverse needs. With Trevor Gale’s quote in mind, is the onus to identify and accommodate these differences on the individual or the company?

Instructors can’t anticipate all the needs of course participants, and if they’re not made aware of them early enough, maybe aspects of a course won’t be as effective. How are learning and development professionals in private enterprise expected to use different learning strategies for different participants if they’re not informed of the difference beforehand? And while we’re at it, how can they expect to be informed beforehand if the company isn’t collecting the information (because there are no data standards for private training companies)?

It all seems a little too big to handle, but definitely something that is worth the little attention it gets.