Around 15% of Vision Australia’s workforce is blind or low vision, making accessibility in technology non-negotiable for all the training the company provides. Vision Australia overhauled how it delivers training with the decision to use D2L’s Brightspace learning management system to provide diverse and inclusive communication and education to stakeholders. Using Brightspace, Vision Australia quickly setup online video training sessions, the shift to remote work arrangements and within two weeks established a competency structure for telehealth.
In the face of COVID-19 social distancing requirements and restrictions, Vision Australia successfully trained its workforce and network of volunteers on telehealth and remote working best-practice with the Brightspace learning management system (LMS).
As the organization’s mission is to support blind and low vision Australians to live the life they choose, the online courses had to be highly accessible to engage learners who are blind or have low vision.
Vision Australia is a leading national provider of blindness and low vision services in Australia. The not-for-profit employs 800 people and manages a network of 2,500 volunteers who support more than 25,500 blind and low vision Australians.
With around 15% of its workforce blind or low vision themselves, accessibility is non-negotiable for all training and development Vision Australia provides. Dan Casey, Capability Development Manager at Vision Australia, said it first implemented D2L’s Brightspace platform in February 2020 to provide diverse and inclusive communication and education materials to its stakeholders.
“What set Brightspace apart for us was that D2L really understood accessibility,” he said. “Accessibility was built into the platform from the ground up, it wasn’t just an afterthought that was bolted on retroactively.”
Laura Hendrey, Learning and Development Coordinator at Vision Australia, said after having used Brightspace for seven months, the LMS helped Vision Australia overcome some of the logistics challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All our client work was previously face-to-face, so we had to rapidly develop training around providing telehealth services – we ran a number of training sessions on Zoom which we recorded and uploaded to Brightspace, so people could view it whenever they needed to,” she said. “We then set up a basic competency structure for the telehealth training, along with some assignments which were aligned to the competencies. Also, we had to get people working from home quickly, so we used Brightspace to set up a working from home agreement, then released it as a survey for people to complete and submit online.”
With Vision Australia’s workforce spread across the nation, Hendrey said the platform’s Manager Dashboard also greatly simplified the process of monitoring who had completed mandatory third-party courses – such as an infection control course issued by the Commonwealth Department of Health for essential workers.
“Because we’d already established the platform as a one-stop-shop for learning and training, we were able to simply collect links to any mandatory courses and send them to all our employees and volunteers through Brightspace,” Hendrey said.
“We then made it an assignment for anyone who had completed those courses to upload their certificates so we could run reports with just a single click to know who was up-to-date with their training.”
• Accessibility. Vision Australia’s diverse workforce includes a number of employees and volunteers who require the use of screen readers and screen magnifiers. Brightspace’s ability to easily integrate with applications like the JAWS screen reader and ZOOM text magnifier ensured all stakeholders could fully engage with their training: “One of the main things that attracted us to D2L’s Brightspace platform was its rich accessibility options. As well as being compatible with a wide range of screen readers, the built-in Brightspace Accessibility Checker helps us detect potential accessibility issues in our courses automatically,” Hendrey said.
• Monitoring. Previously, Vision Australia found it difficult to keep track of learner progress because their prior LMS relied on Excel spreadsheets and Word documents which were cumbersome and time-consuming to manage – with Brightspace, detailed reports that track to learning outcomes can be generated with a single click: “From an audit perspective, we can now show real evidence of the competencies and learning outcomes that each learner has developed through real-time snapshots of everyone’s progress. With the competency feature, we can now show more than just whether someone has completed a course, but whether or not they’ve comprehended it – that’s really powerful for us.” Casey said.
• Support. Beyond the technical capabilities, Vision Australia has received on-going support in how to best design courses and use the platform’s functionality to achieve desired learning outcomes: “Any questions we have or help we need, D2L has always been there to support us. They really understand what it is we’re trying to achieve, so for us the relationship is more like a partnership,” Casey said.
“There’s no half-measures when it comes to accessibility – a platform meets the standards or it doesn’t,” said Tony Maguire, Regional Director ANZ at D2L. “Vision Australia has proudly led the way in ensuring those who are blind or have low vision can more equitably participate in educational and employment opportunities. Thanks to Vision Australia’s work there is real choice and increased independence for all its stakeholders.”Click below to share this article