Centre for Scholarship and Innovation
Sonifications are audio representations of graphs, and as such are an ‘alternative format’ which could be used to improve accessibility of module materials. This project explored the utility of sonifications to all students enrolled on a module, specifically students on the 17J presentation of M140 Introducing statistics. In this case all the graphs corresponded to scatterplots. The first goal of this project was to demonstrate how sonifications can be made available to students via the module website, thus providing a template for any future implementation. Page 2 of 10
Students were asked to give their feedback on the sonifications via a short questionnaire placed on the module website, and 83 students chose to do so. Amongst these respondents, 37% listened to most or all of the sonifications and 31% listened to no more than 2 of them. Despite being given no training in how to interpret sonifications, 71% felt they could imagine the shape of the scatterplot at least some of the time. However of those who chose to comment, 54% provided generally negative comments about whether the sonifications helped them understand the scatterplots. Also 26% said they would listen to sonifications if they were provided for other units.
The pilot has demonstrated that audio representation of graphs can be implemented on a module and made available to all students on that module. The student response indicates that for a small number of students, whether visually impaired or not, the alternative format is valuable and requires no training to access. However it is also clear that any further rollout would need to clearly explain to students that the materials are alternatives and not additional requirements to study in the module.