Three years ago, in 2020, we started planning accessibility education at Tampere University. We had been teaching accessibility-related issues inside of other courses and study modules, but in 2020 the time was ripe to build a whole module targeted just for accessibility.
When we started, we were planning to have one course based on the basics of accessibility, one project course, and a couple of 5-credit courses focusing on different aspects of accessibility. However, what we ended up with was creating a 5-credit Fundamentals of Accessibility course, an Independent Accessibility Project Work course of 5 credits, and a collection of 1-credit courses, or as we call them, minimodules.
We piloted the concept of the basic course (Fundamentals of Accessibility) in two Tampere Summer Schools in 2020 and 2021 and collected valuable feedback and experiences from students, both domestic and international.
The module we had designed – Accessibility in Digital Society – was launched in March 2021 by offering the courses Fundamentals of Accessibility (5 credits) and Independent Accessibility Project Work (5 credits), as well as 20 minimodules focusing on diverse aspects of accessibility methods and technologies, such as picture communication, audio description, speech to text methods, games, and web accessibility. All courses were and are still taught entirely online, and students can complete the courses completely at their own pace, including holidays.
The courses were first opened only to Tampere Universities. Later, they were opened also for continuous/lifelong learning purposes. As the latest addition, the courses are now on offer via FiTech (from November 2022) to anyone interested in learning about accessibility.
Now, after three years of development, TACCU’s accessibility education module offers 27 minimodules in addition to the two 5-credit courses. We are proud to say we have the most extensive accessibility-related education offering in the world!
In addition to creating more course content, we have educated both our staff and our students for an accessible mindset. In total, our students have completed almost 800 accessibility-related courses and earned over 1800 credits, and the popularity of the courses is rising all the time! In total, nearly 300 students have completed the Fundamentals of Accessibility course either in the Summer School or as an online course.
We trust that the future will be more accessible, thanks to students who are eager to learn!