E-Safety Wiki e-Responsibility / e-responsibility and learners with disabilities
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e-responsibility and learners with disabilities

Page history last edited by Julia Taylor 8 years, 2 months ago

E-Safety and disability


Everyone is to some extent at risk online. Some people may be more at risk online than others for a number of reasons including age, disability and health. Fully inclusive and responsible e-Safety practice, procedures and policies can help ensure that everyone is safe and no-one is excluded.

Those who use online and mobile technologies need to be up-to-date with the technology and may need or feel pressured to use it at speed, often on the move. Information comes at you in a variety of formats and from a variety of directions and there is a lot to take in. Some learners may miss out on all of the information they need to make informed decisions for a variety of reasons. They may not be able to keep up with or assimilate all of the information and for many they may not be able to access it adequately. Some learners may not so easily be able to read the meaning of emails and written communications and they may be easily influenced by what is written or said. They may also be easier to make contact with online rather than in a face to face situation.

Below are examples of the types of problems that may be encountered by some learners with disabilities:

Some learners who are blind may

not be able to access all the information on a web page or may not realise that they are missing information or know what is being displayed on the screen;

inadvertently click on spoof buttons (accessing inappropriate buttons or downloading a bot) or post a message to the wrong address;

not realise someone is listening to information being read out by a screen reader (always wear headphones);

not realise someone is looking at their screen (can switch screen off)

Some learners who have difficulties seeing may

not see all the information – large magnification may mean graphics and text are not visible on a screen;

make private information more visible to other people by having an enlarged screen;

not see be aware that someone is looking over their shoulder.


Some learners who have difficulty hearing may

have difficulties understanding where there is an absence of facial and other visual clues;

have difficulties communicating if they usually use sign language;

have difficulties with abstract concepts for example that online "friends" may be complete strangers.

Some learners who have difficulty understanding may

take longer to respond and/or may feel pressured to respond;

have difficulties with abstract concepts;

be susceptible to tempting on-line offers which look like a ‘bargain’ or something for nothing.

Some learners who have difficulty communicating may

misunderstand what is being said particularly when others are communicating in ‘cyberspeak;’

not realise that their  text-to-speech facility can be overheard;

have difficulty conveying what they mean in written format which may lead to misunderstanding.

For an overview of the issues that affect learners with disabilities see the TechDis video at http://www.jisctechdis.ac.uk/techdis/pages/detail/online_resources/tdtuesday_e-Safety 


JISC TechDis have produced a resource pack for Effective Practice on eSafety that includes a range of resources to use with vulnerable learners. 


Key organisational aspects to consider


  • Communication - e-safety guidance and policies should be written with knowledge of the activity of both staff and learners. Acceptable use policies need to be in a format which all staff and learners can both access and understand.
  • Scope - e-safety policies may be framed within the context of the whole college or organisation community.  All members of the community have a duty of care to each other and may be able to influence or support those not in their direct line of contact;


  • Curriculum -  many e-safety issues such as finance and fraud are not covered within the curriculum areas but are a crucial aspect for independent living;


  • Inductions – staff and learners’ induction to the IT systems need to include user friendly guidance on e-safety principles such as password use, (creating, remembering and changing), security of data as well as social media guidelines;


  • Risk Assessment - all learners are individual and their circumstances may change.  Many learners will have a risk assessment included within their induction it is important to have procedures in place to initiate risk management .measures if a member of staff is concerned at any time throughout the academic year. 



Residential Settings and Specialist Colleges


Monitoring and supervision may be acceptable and relatively straight forward in a learning environment but may seem more intrusive in someone's own home.


  • Residential setting - does guidance and policy include recreational and personal use of the internet, do teaching and support staff have the knowledge and skills to be able to support the policies?;


  • While there may be considerable training given to teaching and support staff within the college setting, care and other support staff may not have the opportunity to access this training. Similarly, there may be legal e-responsibility issues with some care staff who do not understand or realise the consequence of their own behaviour online such as file sharing and social networking use;


  • Risk assessment should include considerations of the learner’s situation and circumstances as well as any difficulty and/or disability?  Is scope for additional measures included within the management of any perceived risk?;


  • Colleges and learning provider organisations are communities of adults.  Do your policies and procedures reflect this?  Do the staff and learners have the opportunity to shape or add to the policies, guidelines or recommendations and do these reflect residential aspects? 



Work by JISC TechDis and partners has begun to map some of the above  but this work is at an early stage and any organisations with specific expertise would be very welcome to get in touch with their JISC RSC (Regional Support Centre) or contact JISC TechDis directly or contribute to the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/esafetyforvulnerablelearnersgoodpractice  


Related links


East Midlands E-Safety Project Resources by and for learners with disabilities. The 5 eSafeT's  is an easy to follow overview.

Childnet International – SEN resource (for under 16 but useful)

Defining vulnerable learners

ISC Self -Assessment Audit Tool based on Ofsted Quick Audit