Wednesday, 21 October 2020 10:37

Vision Australia trains employees, volunteers on COVID-19 measures with D2L Brightspace learning management system


Blindness and low vision services provider Vision Australia has successfully trained its workforce and network of volunteers on telehealth and remote working best-practice with the D2L's Brightspace learning management system (LMS).

Vision Australia says the training has been completed in the face of COVID-19 social distancing requirements and restrictions.

“As the organisation’s mission is to support blind and low vision Australians 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 said in a statement on Wednesday.

With around 15% of its workforce blind or low vision themselves, Vision Australia says accessibility is non-negotiable for all training and development it provides.

Dan Casey, Capability Development Manager at Vision Australia, said the organisation 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 Australia, 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.”

“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 have 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.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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