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Further Education Minister Unveils Improved Accessibility Tools for FE Sector

LSIS’s Excellence Gateway offers practical, online support The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) has launched an online toolkit which provides practical guidelines for teachers and trainers to make learning materials even more accessible. Now available on Excellence Gateway is a simple, one-stop shop for resources which merge pedagogical and technical advice where previously these have been scattered over several different channels.

Siôn Simon, MP, Minister for Further Education at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) unveiled the new accessibility guidelines, designed to ensure that teachers and trainers find the right guidance to widen participation and support to all learners, at an event at Lewisham College.

Produced for LSIS by JISC TechDis, a leading educational advisory service in accessibility and inclusion, the materials are available exclusively on the Excellence Gateway – the national online service for those working in the further education system in England. Grouped into eight categories (users who have difficulty seeing things; hearing things; understanding things; concentrating; handling and manipulating things, communicating with others, difficulty accessing text; are dyslexic) the resources will enable staff to create effective, engaging and accessible learning materials for learners.

The Minister was joined by Roger McClure, chief executive of LSIS at one of the first events of the new sector-led FE improvement body.

Also speaking were Kevin Carey, Director of HumanITy, who advised on the creation of the materials, and a learner and tutor from Lewisham College who spoke about the day-to-day reality of improvements in accessibility. Experts from Excellence Gateway and JISC TechDis were on hand to showcase the suite of resources.

Kevin Carey is uniquely placed to provide guidance because of his long involvement in education, his expertise in accessibility, and his standing as a blind author and speaker: "There is no single solution for accessibility, and often the most time-consuming and expensive adjustments are not always the most effective. These accessibility guidelines available on Excellence Gateway will help teachers to adapt and personalise delivery to all learners."

Roger McClure said: "These new accessibility guidelines will really make a difference to teachers and trainers across the learning and skills sector in their work with a diverse range of learners. As the new sector-owned organisation, LSIS has responded to a clear need to bring all the dispersed guidelines together in one place, easily accessible online. And here, at Lewisham College’s Professional Development Centre, we can see at first-hand the impact that an embedded approach to equality and diversity can make."

Siôn Simon MP, Minister for Further Education said: "The FE sector has the needs of learners at its core, and these accessibility guidelines will ensure that all learners can unlock their talent in an amazing and innovative way. As the new minister in this area, I would also like to congratulate LSIS which has supported the production of this toolkit and shown that, as a newly-formed organisation, it regards equality and diversity as a priority."

In addition to the accessibility guidelines, the Excellence Gateway incorporates some 50 education websites and an impressive resource bank comprising more than 75,000 pages, and 12,000 separate pieces of content. LSIS has joined forces with a number of partners to centralise resources on the portal including the Ofsted Good Practice Database, the Becta technology exemplars and evidence from the 9 JISC Regional Support Centres. Registration and use of the Excellence Gateway is completely free by visiting

About the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS)The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) came into operation on 1 October 2008. Combining the best aspects of two different and highly successful sector bodies – the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) and the Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) – LSIS will focus on learners and on developing excellent and sustainable further education and skills provision across the sector. Leadership development will underpin and form an important part of the organisation’s strategic role in the sector. LSIS was established after consultations with sector leaders identified a strong desire for an organisation that would be sector-led. As a sector-owned public body, LSIS will be owned, directed and governed by FE and skills colleges and providers, and will be dedicated to supporting excellence, leadership development and self-regulation in the FE sector. LSIS will be consulting with the sector during autumn 2008 and spring 2009 about its priorities and remit. While this is taking place, the activities and services of CEL and QIA will continue under joint branding; more information about their range of activities is available on their respective websites.

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