What is ITQ for Accessible IT Practice?
ITQ stands for Information Technology Qualification. It is an up-to-date, nationally recognised IT user qualification tailored to business and individual needs. These certificates are accredited and awarded by the City and Guilds.
Visit http://e-skills.com/ for more information about ITQ.
JISC Techdis have mapped ten of the support programme topics to ITQ Units to form ITQ for Accessible IT Practice. By working closely with City and Guilds this unique qualification has become one of the most highly respected adaptations of ITQ.
The essential element of ITQ for Accessible IT Practice
ITQ for Accessible IT Practice draws on 10 ITQ Units and the relevant criteria relating to those Units. There are three core units which everyone must complete. There are seven optional units and learners will need to complete at least 2 of these for a Level 2 Certificate and at least three for a Level 3 Certificate.
All learners need to attain all the criteria for each Unit undertaken. However, evidence produced for ITQ for Accessible IT Practice must also demonstrate a level of skill and understanding of accessible IT practice. This 'layer' on top of the ITQ criteria is essential and must be evidenced.
The units are explained in more detail by clicking on the appropriate links below.
The Core Units
The Optional Units
The Core Units
To ensure everyone took a fundamental approach when considering accessible IT practice 3 Core Units were selected. These are:
- User Fundamentals
- Text-to-Speech software (Bespoke)
- Improving productivity using IT (mandatory)
This unit looks at basics in using a computer including how to effectively use all the accessibility options within a Windows or Mac environment. It also looks at the way we access the Internet and incorporates how to use browser plug-ins to improve an IT user's browsing experience. In addition, the use of Access Apps, (free portable assistive applications that run off a memory stick), is brought into this Unit. The User Fundamentals Guide (see Programme Resources) provides prompts for 10 tasks, the great majority of which covers the required criteria for User Fundamentals Unit. The suggested evidence looks at the way we use computers and technology using keystrokes, screen readers or with limited colour vision.
This unit looks at a range of free, simple-to-use tools you can use to listen to documents and texts. This is a chance to explore ones you may already use, such as DSpeech or Robobraille, or you might have access to commercial versions such as Read Write Gold. Evidence for this Unit can cross reference to the Word Processing Unit. The Text-to-Speech Guide (see Programme Resources) provides prompts for 3 tasks where Text to Speech software has been used and analysis of the functions, features and successful output according to an IT user's needs.
Improving Productivity using IT
This unit draws all units together and it is the Mandatory Unit in ITQ. To gather evidence for this Unit you reflect on all stages of IT use from planning to use a piece of software for an intended purpose and for specific target audience, to implementing its use then reviewing to identify whether it has been successful and how it has made you or others more productive or efficient. The Improving Productivity Guide (in the Programme Resources) offers prompts to consider evidence produced for the remaining Units and link to reflection, analysis and evaluation of the process of using IT for a purpose.
The Programme Resources also contain learning materials to help fill the general IT knowledge and skills gaps.
The Optional Units
The selection of seven Optional Units was carefully made to acknowledge the different use of IT skills in various roles. Remember, you will need to complete 2 Optional Units if aiming for a Level 2 Certificate or 3 Units for a Level 3.
The Optional Units are:
- Word Processing software
- Presentations software
- Spreadsheet software
- Using the Internet
- Using Audio or Video
- Xerte software (Specialist)
- Website Software (Level 1)
Let's now look at these seven in a little more detail and see how an assessor can look for the 'layer'.
This unit looks for good word processing skills such as displaying, layouts, styles, editing and formatting but the additional 'layer' for ITQ for Accessible IT Practice is evidence of an understanding about producing documents that are as accessible as possible, especially if presenting them via a web interface. An assessor should ensure there's an understanding and skill in accessible word processing such as:
- Creating structured documents to include styles, headings, layouts
- Use of a Document Map and MindMap for visual interpretation of the document
- Contents table
- Captioned images and objects
- Suitably displayed content in tables for screen reader access
- Creating pdf documents with ReFlow functionality
For Level 3 the assessor is looking for the more advanced use of the word processing software and full use of its features and functions including embedding objects such as video, sound and other objects.
This one is similar to the Word Processing Unit as it looks at creating and editing presentations, use of styles and how to use presentations in an accessible and supportive way. This Unit encourages the learner to look at various choices of presentation software to meet the needs of the IT user. An assessor should ensure there's an understanding and skill in creating accessible presentations such as:
- Structured presentations, using Master Slides and consistent elements.
- Purposeful and individualised navigation using action buttons
- How to present to an audience with a varying need for visual information.
For Level 3 the assessor is looking for the more advanced use of the presentation software and full use of its features and functions including the full and correct use of Notes Pages and embedding objects such as video and sound.
This unit looks for an understanding of the advanced functions and formulae of a spreadsheet including 'what if' analysis tools, pivot tables and scenarios but it also asks for an awareness of how information can be displayed in an ideal format to be accessible for users. An assessor should ensure there's an understanding and skill in creating spreadsheets and using the numeric functionality but it also looks for the ways colours, images, drop down boxes, slides can provide the IT user with a better graphical understanding of the numeric data. For Level 3 the assessor would need to see complex spreadsheets and those that include the use of forecasting tools within the software.
This unit is available for those who carry out web research and downloading on a regular basis. This Unit asks for more than the use of Google - it looks for sound skill in filtering and going beyond the existing portals and repositories.
Using Audio or Video Software
This unit recognises the skills in creating, editing and presenting sound files. Many resources and materials need to be available in audio format to support the IT user. An assessor should ensure there's an understanding and skill in capturing, editing and distributing sound files such as:
- Ensuring there's sufficient description within the sound file to provide visual clues.
- Providing a transcript for those unable to hear the sound file as intended.
- Selecting a way to distribute that would allow the IT user to adjust the settings for better listening.
- Providing a 'before' and 'after' file during the editing process.
For Level 3 the assessor is looking for more advanced use of sound capture and editing software, exploring accessible sound players and distributing easily using RSS feeds or podcast route.
Xerte software (specialist)
This is award winning free software that allows the IT user to create impressive and accessible presentations including text, images, video and interactive elements. This software offers templates and step-by-step instructions so exciting e-learning or training material can be produced very quickly. An assessor should ensure there's an understanding and skill in creating accessible Xerte objects such as:
- Avoiding lengthy panels of text requiring scrolling
- Appropriate use of images that convey messages i.e. contrast, resolution, clarity etc.
- Clarity of sound file recording used if used for a main purpose
- Readability fit for purpose and needs of the IT user.
For Level 3 the assessor is looking for more advanced use of the Xerte software with full use of its advanced templates such as creating and converting video, use of transcript reader, linking to YouTube and other video and animations, adding an RSS feed link and creating advanced hot spots diagrams.
Website Software (Level 1)
This unit looks at good practice associated with the creation of website creation and web-based materials so that they are accessible as possible. This Unit is ideal for anyone responsible for developing resources and materials for an online training area, creating a simple website or blog. An assessor should ensure there's an understanding and skill in creating websites such as:
- Presenting documents, images, sound and video files, alternate description, transcripts or alternative formats where possible.
- Presenting tabulated data in a way for screen readers to access the information logically and easily.
- Presenting guidance for the website visitor so he/she can adjust the experience to suit their needs.
- Testing the site for keystroke use, screen reader access and to identify accessibility issues.
This is only available at Level 1 within ITQ for Accessible IT Practice. It requires the learner to create linked web pages with content and external links and for it to be uploaded to the web using file transfer protocol. The 'layer' should be shown in the reflection within the personal statements accompanying the evidence of the website. Some of the evidence however can be gathered by using an online learning platform, blog or shared web space.