Colleges and Universities have, for a good few years, made use of Virtual Learning Environments alongside face-to-face teaching to deliver courses. Schools, in contrast, with the vast majority of their learning being delivered in person, were only just dipping their toes in, with only a minority of teachers setting online homework and revision. The advent of the pandemic changed all this as schools needed to shift at pace to a new model of delivering education to pupils at home.
Online learning offers a number of advantages but it has been recognised that it is more accessible to some than others, for a variety of reasons. This has caused significant numbers of pupils to fall behind. One group of children who have been affected are those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who have been unable to access learning resources efficiently because they have not been provided in accessible formats. Specifically, pupils with low literacy, dyslexia, vision impairment and hearing impairment, will have difficulty if accessibility has not been considered when resources were created.
It would seem therefore, that removing the exemption for schools from The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 would be appropriate. At the time the regulations were introduced, schools were providing the majority of education face to face so the exemption was justified. However, now schools have online learning up and running, it is highly likely that they will continue to use it, even after schools open fully, for homework, revision and cover lessons. It is vital therefore that online learning is made accessible to all pupils.