Accessibility of digital services is an important area of social sustainability
We are surrounded by more and more digital services. They have been developed in a relatively down-to-earth manner for a long time, providing solutions to certain individual challenges. Sometimes this means that there is no consideration as to whether the service is accessible to people with disabilities, for example. The Sustainable Digital Life Master’s degree programme was born out of the demand for experts with multidisciplinary skills in assessing the sustainability of and developing services throughout the design process.
“The programme pays special attention to accessibility and strives to create services to truly meet everyone’s needs,” says Professor of Interactive Technology and Programme Head Markku Turunen.
As specified in the teaching schedule, each student must complete a basic course in accessibility, in addition to which they have the opportunity to select courses from the accessibility entity awarding a total of 40 credits. The courses allow for students to study the legislation and regulations connected to accessibility as well as tools to test these through practical examples. The themes are also approached from specialised viewpoints, such as games and gamification.
The students will work on their master’s theses as part of a two-year cooperation project. According to Turunen, challenge-based learning is not utilised this comprehensively to a great degree in Finland.
“The problems in the projects are key challenges in terms of sustainable development. We are, for example, engaged in a project with KONE and Solita on solving issues related to sustainable and accessible travel as well as sensory defensiveness in travel. Another one of our projects is focused on the operation of Yle’s algorithms, and a third project examines the digital exposure of destinations important in terms of cultural history and the accessibility of culture together with the Tampere Lutheran Parishes.
The programme has been accepting applications since last year. According to Turunen, the group of Master’s programme students is diverse, but the students usually have a background or interests in the field of communications, media and the digital world. You can follow the progress of the student projects by reading their blogs.
Turunen hopes that others would also update their knowledge on accessibility. He recommends the MOOC online course Introduction to Sustainable Digital Life open to the public. Members of the Tampere University community also have the opportunity to complete a more comprehensive entity on digital accessibility.
Markku Turunen; markku.turunen [at] tuni.fi, 040 533 9689
Photo: Thomas Olsson
Text: Nina Jylhä