The Karten Trust grant awarded to Linkage’s Weelsby campus has had a significant impact upon the Linkage blended learning approach. Learners are now able to regularly access the equipment beyond the Karten centres, and this has enabled learners to develop their skills and led to a reduction in support required from teaching staff when completing a range of tasks and activities. To date 73 of the 83 learners at the Weelsby campus (88%) have accessed equipment funded by the grant outside of formal Karten centre sessions.
Prior to the lockdown in March 2020 the media group of 15 learners planned, developed and facilitated an exhibition to showcase their fantastic work. Some of the group were working towards a qualification in Creative Media Production and creating images was a key aspect of their course of study. The theme for the photography project had been ‘Nature’. Having some beautiful grounds, we were very lucky to be able to capture images of nature every week with slightly different themes and purposes, for example macro photography, remembrance photography, landscape photography, autumn, Halloween, and Christmas. The images were a mixture of original and edited images all created by the learners. Showcasing their work really boosted their confidence and pride in their work and ability.
The exhibition was promoted to families, other Linkage services and a range of stakeholders. Visitor data was collated and in total 94 people accessed the exhibition. Feedback from attendees was extremely positive with students receiving specific individual feedback regarding the high quality of their work.
Linkage have embedded the equipment purchased within the assessment process. Learners have experienced interactive assessment sessions and virtual campus tours have also taken place.
Four digital champions are undertaking Jisc training to develop their skills, understanding and use of a variety of learning resources. Information and expertise is being shared through the peer review and development group of specialist colleges within the East Midlands.
Staff have this year attended the online TechAbility conference in November covering innovative practices surrounding assistive technology, participated in training as part of the EdTech Hub and attended captioning training delivered by Natspec.
We are also in the process of working with Liz Howarth from the Karten Network as part of the Nuvoic project to support, test and feedback on accessible smart home control for people with dysarthric speech.
We are endeavouring to build our relationship with the Karten Network, and have been developing the roll out of cross-campus competitions using the Karten centres with a view to opening these up to the network.
Case study: Chaz L
Chaz has significant visual impairment which includes an involuntary oscillation of the eyes, which causes her vision to be blurred and indistinct. She is registered as disabled, although wants to be seen as with an ability which is different.
Chaz benefits from the Zoomax magnifier on a daily basis, which enables her to perform tasks independently, and develop a range of skills including communication and functional skills by using the equipment within a retail environment in preparation for her external work experience.
The increase in availability of iPads and the centralised booking system has also benefited Chaz, as previously she has struggled to sustain focus. She now regularly uses an iPad with the assistive technology apps to support her progress across the curriculum, and has also used it within personal social and development lessons to increase her confidence in planning travel routes.
Case study: Emma W
Emma W is using the mixed colour upper and lower case keyboards. Emma W has significant learning difficulties and has difficulties with fine and gross motor co-ordination. The keyboards have enabled her to grow in confidence, and to easily identify letters, which is really improving Emma’s communication and literacy skills.
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