Posted on 1 February 2023
Open Polytechnic, a business division of Te Pūkenga, has been working closely with Ako Aotearoa to gain the Dyslexia Friendly Quality Mark (DFQM) accreditation.
To achieve the Ako Aotearoa DFQM, an organisation must build processes and create content that is accessible and safe for ākonga (learners) with dyslexia.
“As an online learning provider, we are uniquely placed to make a huge impact by ensuring our programmes and resources are accessible for all ākonga,” says Alan Cadwallader, Executive Director at Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga.
“During 2022, 47 kaimahi (staff) attended the Ako Aotearoa Dyslexia 101 training, increasing responsiveness and building confidence in how kaimahi work with those with dyslexia.”
“We are grateful for the recognition that Ako Aotearoa have shown for our efforts and for the dedicated mahi of our kaimahi in making this happen.”
Throughout 2022, a dedicated and passionate team led by Dr Lynne Brice and Erin Fitzgerald from Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga, worked with Ako Aotearoa to achieve the DFQM accreditation.
The process began with a self-assessment of practices, identifying existing strengths and opportunities in responsiveness to dyslexia. An action plan sought to address further opportunities, and the implementation process developed into a comprehensive portfolio of evidence to support the application.
During the action plan and implementation stages, the group also worked with a Disability and Access Advisory Group to get direct feedback and to ensure the ākonga voice informed what they were creating.
Disability and Access Lead Erin Fitzgerald says, “Undertaking the work to achieve the Dyslexia Friendly Quality Mark has been quite a journey, but also a very useful tool in assessing our work in terms of accessibility for ākonga who may experience barriers or impairments.”
In the final step towards successfully receiving the accreditation, the Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga team hosted Ako Aotearoa in a virtual site visit, demonstrating the accessibility of the institution’s iQualify learning platform and content alongside assistive technology tools.
Manager Learner Engagement and Success Services in 2022, Dr Brice says, “We are delighted with the increased awareness and our responsiveness to dyslexia.”
“We are focussed now on maintaining this momentum and continuing to push the edge of what we can do to increase participation and success for the many ākonga who have not been able to access tertiary education because of their dyslexia.”
Ako Aotearoa also interviewed kaimahi and ākonga to gain a full perspective of the organisation’s responsiveness to dyslexia.
“We are pleased that the DFQM recognises the hard work of this passionate and dedicated team and their fantastic achievement towards making meaningful changes to the lives of their ākonga and kaimahi,” says Annette Tofaeono, Senior Advisor - Foundation Learning at Ako Aotearoa.
“The team progressed exceptionally well through the DFQM process, taking a strengths-based, collaborative and considered approach to making changes and implementing new approaches, processes, strategies and support measures. The assistive technology support offered is one of the best we've seen. We loved that changes were also informed by ākonga and kaimahi voice, resulting in increased awareness, understanding and inclusiveness.”
“We are excited to see our DFQM's impact across the tertiary education sector. Positive feedback from ākonga is a sure indication this approach works, with the commitment of passionate educators and organisations.”
Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga always provides a range of dyslexia-friendly services, such as assignment support, online study tips, and accessible web services on its website and iQualify learning platform.
For information and resources around dyslexia and specific study tips visit the disability and access services section of the Open Polytechnic website.