Accessibility support for Sisu at Aalto University

Accessibility issues have been found in Sisu, the new student information system that will be fully deployed in August. Aalto University is committed to providing students with individual support until the issues have been resolved.

Several functionalities of Sisu, the core information system for teaching and studies, have already been taken into use at Aalto University. Sisu is scheduled to fully replace the previous system, Oodi, on 9 August. Oodi has reached the end of its life cycle. Sisu, the new system shared by several universities, will enable more efficient planning of studies, course registration and monitoring of study progress, among other benefits. The implementation of Sisu is part of an extensive digitalisation project whose goal is to develop teaching and learning services, improving the process of studies for all students at Aalto University.

Severe accessibility issues have been found in Sisu. They are recorded in a university-specific accessibility statement. A link to the accessibility statement is also available on Sisu’s log in page at sisu.aalto.fi. In practice, the accessibility issues mean that the system is difficult to use with a screen reader, and not all functionalities can be operated through a keyboard, for example. Accessibility refers to accessibility in the online world, based on understandable content, technical accessibility of the implemented solutions and a clear and easy-to-use interface.

The Sisu system is being developed by Funidata Oy, owned by Aalto University and six other universities where Sisu is or will be in use. Funidata is developing Sisu taking account of the needs of the owner universities and user feedback provided by them. Following an accessibility review of the Sisu system, Funidata and the universities owning it jointly emphasise the need to have Sisu’s accessibility challenges resolved. Some issues are expected to be resolved in 2021, while some are estimated to be resolved as late as in 2023. The estimated schedule of the repairs is explained in closer detail in the accessibility statement. As the accessibility issues cannot be resolved fast enough from the users’ perspective, Aalto University will provide users with individual, flexible user support in the short term.

‘Equality is an extremely important matter for Aalto University, and we are making constant efforts to achieve it. Accessibility is part of equality, as everyone must be presented with equal opportunities to use different systems. For many people, accessibility is a real, everyday problem that must be solved,’ says Provost Kristiina Mäkelä, Chair of Aalto University Equality Committee.

Accessibility is part of equality, as everyone must be presented with equal opportunities to use different systems.

‘Here at Aalto University, we are developing teaching and learning services as a cohesive whole, and accessibility is an important principle guiding this development. We have a major digitalisation project going on in the fields of education and learning and related services, called Leap for Learning. It will have multiple benefits for students and staff, for example by making all student services starting from academic guidance to student communities available in a single online view. At the same time, some services such as Oodi will come to the end of their long service life. Following the principle of continuous development, we will gradually introduce and develop functionalities based on user feedback and testing,’ says Eija Zitting, Head of Learning Services at Aalto University.

Individual accessibility support available for students

Until the issues in Sisu are resolved, students will be given individual support to overcome Sisu’s accessibility barriers. Students who need accessibility support are kindly asked to contact the Starting Point service desk for assistance in making a personal study plan (HOPS) and registering for courses and examinations. An individual support plan will be made for each student in need of support by Aalto’s Sisu experts and the individual study arrangements contact person of the student’s school. The plan will contain detailed information on what support is needed and where the student will get it easily and flexibly.

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