Making social networking more accessible

The DART Project
Runshaw College, Leyland and
Beaumont College, Lancaster
Susan Dwyer, Trevor Mobbs, Rohan Slaughter 30/9/11
About Beaumont College
• Independent Specialist College based in
• 91 learners, 330 FTE staff
• Ofsted “Outstanding”
• LSIS Beacon Status
• Curriculum focussed on personal
development, independence, skills for life
• Creative arts specialism
The DART Project
• DART – ‘Disseminating Assistive Roles and
• Working in partnership, Beaumont College
and National Star College
• Funded by the LSIS flexibility and innovation
The DART Project
• The project aims to:
– Improve Assistive Technology practice in the
– Enable the replication of the innovative Assistive
Technologist role
– Disseminate the Beaumont College Technology
service model
– Produce Assistive Technology case studies for the
The DART Project
• The Assistive Technologist
– Sits at the interface of people and technology
– Works as part of a trans-disciplinary team, which
includes OT, SLT, teachers, social care staff
– A new ‘hybrid’ role that does not replace any
existing role
– The technologist becomes the ‘chief integrator’ of
the assistive technology solution provided to the
The DART Project
• The Assistive Technologist
– This role was developed during the Wheeltop
Project at Beaumont College
– Funded by BT from 2007-2010
– Integrate off the shelf Tablet PC technology in
place of dedicated communication aids
– Reduced the cost of the hardware and increased
flexibility of solutions
– The technologist role was the most important
development from the Wheeltop Project
The DART Project
• Disseminate the Beaumont College Technology service
– Beaumont unifies mainstream IT support and assistive
technology support into a single team
– Team is run from the Senior Management Team
– This arrangement serves the college well, and avoids
the divide that can exist between technical staff and
teaching staff
– The team includes two technologists, two network
technicians, an IT technician, Media technician and a
technical learning support worker
The DART Project
• Disseminate the Beaumont College Technology service
– Beaumont has a robust modern IT system that has
been developed over a number of years
– Assistive Technology and AAC expertise
– We are active in networks such as the JISC RSC NW,
the Technology Exemplar Network, TechDIS, LSIS,
NATSPEC groups
– Have been involved in a number of sector projects
The DART Project
• Produce assistive technology case studies
– Examples of assistive technology solutions in place
at both National Star College and Beaumont
– Examples of technology in use at partner colleges
– Examples of how we have worked with partner
colleges (training, support, technology)
The DART Project
• Produce assistive technology case studies
– For example, using a windows 7 tablet in place of
a communication aid:
• Lower Cost
• Flexible
• Runs The Grid 2 Software
• Easy to mount or use hand held
• Can be supported by anyone with PC
The DART Project
• The project
– Convened a project board to oversee the project
– Sought partners in both mainstream and FE colleges
– We had assistance from both the JISC RSC’s and
TechDIS to publicise the project
– We had a massive response, in all 24 enquiries were
made prior to the deadline, more enquires since
– It is clear that there is an unmet need
– We have engaged with 8 colleges
The DART Project
• The Partner Colleges
• Beaumont College:
Runshaw FE College
Dovestones at Tameside
Henshaws ISC
Wirral FE
• National Star College:
Bournemouth and Pool FE College
Swindon FE College
Oakwood Court ISC
South Bristol Skills Academy (FE)
About Runshaw College
• Runshaw College is a Beacon College based
on three sites in Leyland, Euxton and
• Over 4000 full time students 16-18
• Adult FE, HE,WBL and commercial courses
• The 2011 examination league tables
published by the Department for Education
show Runshaw to be the best performing
college in the country.
• Grade 1 across the full range of provision
• A dynamic and successful ALS provision with
a strong ethos of Continuous Improvement
• Visited November 2010 as part of an Ofsted
Good Practice Survey receiving excellent
feedback on both ALS and LDD.
Runshaw College: A DART case
The vision
• To be able to identify and implement cost effective, efficient
technologies, strategies and equipment which will enhance
the ability of students to work independently and have
barriers to learning and reliance on others reduced. This will
increase their resilience and competence, allowing them to be
included as equals in the learning and external environment,
thus promoting their inclusion in society.
Study Support
• We knew we wanted to develop learning and assistive technology
• We knew what we wanted but didn’t know how to get there
• We have great IT facilities, an IT team and ILT mentors but everyone was
busy with other developments
• A Senior Support work was responsible for our technology but also had a
growing HE/DSA responsibility
• Study Support did not have the technological skills to support the vision
• The main driver for what we wanted to achieve was to be more Inclusive
and believed technology was the way to achieve this.
What we have achieved so far
 Assistive technology now in the strategic plan
 Head of Study Support now a member of ILT strategy group
 Head of the library to take on a lead role in developing technology as part of a
change in roles and development of a new library and Study Support and has been
freed up from some duties to achieve this
 Funding identified for a joint post of Assistive Technologist for LDD and Learning
Technologist for the rest of the college
 Piloting assistive and learning technology in two areas-Science and Hair and
Beauty- Re vamped Science Atrium
 New Windows with assistive and learning tools
 JISC software on wristbands and pen drives to be given to all study Support
students and
 All Support staff have had Jisc presentation and training on software and pen
 Dolphin pen drives bought- 100 plus for students with dyslexia
 Visits to Beaumont, Burnley College and Warrington College to pick up good
What next?
The recruitment of an Assistive Technologist and
work continuing on the two pilot areas and
rolling out technologies.
The ILT trainers are going to train selected staff
on the Dolphin software
The DART Project
• Visits have taken place with all colleges
• We have identified what the colleges wish to develop as
part of the project, this includes:
– Elements of the Technologist role to be embedded in an
existing role
– Transfer of assistive technology knowledge to specific staff,
work shadowing etc
– Training and development for staff in the partner colleges
– Advice on sourcing equipment, software etc
– Advice on adapting mainstream hardware
The DART Project
• The Partner Colleges
– Beaumont College and National Star are working to develop a
program of activities with each college individually
– At least four days has/will be spent with each college
– Opportunity to review, adapt and change direction as
emergent needs are identified
– Intended to foster two way learning, we wish to learn from all
partner colleges
– The project is intended to have a legacy of web based
resources that can be used by the sector more widely
The DART Project
• The Project website
– Hosts information about the project
– Will be updated regularly
– Has a number of case studies available now:
• Accessible media centre
• Computer access for visually impaired switch users
• Switch access to digital SLR cameras
– More case studies to be added soon

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