Piotr Witek: fostering digital accessibility
I am trainer and expert in accessibility and assistive technologies. I work at the Institute for Regional Development Foundation and its company, Utilitia. Plus, I run my own website called Moja Szuflada.
I read articles and listen to podcasts. I use the platform to find out about different methods of trainings. I am also interested in new trends in education. I would like to learn more about adult education experiences from different perspectives. My main goal is to develop my training skills. I hope to become more of an active member of the EPALE Community in the future.
In my work, I coordinate the work of the digital accessibility team and play the role of advisor for local governments, public administrations, university staff and entrepreneurs. I train others in the needs and expectations of recipients and users in the area of available solutions, assistive and supportive technologies and their possibilities. I am blind and through my activities and educational activity I try to make the world around us more open to the needs of people with disabilities. I know the needs of people with disabilities, because as a person who has seen it all before, it is easier for me to present problems and design solutions.
In September 2020, I was invited by the Office for People with Disabilities from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań to present the issue of remote education for people with disabilities. My training was attended by lecturers who for the first time encountered the problem of remote education, the availability of digital educational materials, and different ways of presenting various content and conducting remote classes.
It was interesting to learn that some of the lecturers were not aware that their classes were attended by people with disabilities and that, until then, they had unconsciously denied them of the chance to get the most out of the classes.
The pandemic has shown that young people with disabilities - in this case students - have above-average ICT skills. Much more developed than their able-bodied peers. This is due to the need to use the latest digital services, such as e- govermment, online stores and banks, food deliveries and other ordered products, etc.
COVID-19 has forced lecturers working in the stationary space to immediately acquire digital skills. This need was combined with their acquisition of knowledge and skills in the field of digital accessibility.
During the training, participants learned about the tools for effective cooperation that ensure the appropriate level of accessibility for assistive technologies, as well as the methods and tools for creating multimedia materials. They also acquired skills related to presenting content in an accessible way, increasing the participants' activity by including online examinations in discussions.
It turned out that the discussed content aroused great interest and provoked a lively discussion. At the same time, there was an internal exchange of information related to the applied solutions.
My experience shows that the greatest effect in the area of accessibility comes from education combining digital competences with competences related to accessibility.
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