Learning technologies offer excellent opportunities to make Higher and Further Education fully inclusive for people with many kinds of disabilities, as well as providing a better learning environment for all students. The drive to deliver ever-increasing quantities of visually attractive learning, support and service material, however, can lead to designs which embody insurmountable barriers to access by a range of people with disabilities. Issues of accessibility to disabled users are beginning to be addressed seriously, but there is a constant need to ensure empirically that materials, which are provided, are actually accessible.
This report is the result of research conducted into the arrangements that can be implemented by awarding bodies on behalf of disabled candidates in the UK. Findings are based on the procedures and advice made available by a selection of awarding bodies. Applications of technology in this area are of particular importance to the work of TechDis in enhancing access to learning, teaching and assessment.
After a semester of working with the population of Deaf students on a larger southwestern, suburban University campus, it became clear that the institution would not be able to provide reasonable accommodations requested by deaf students. As I witnessed students, rightfully fighting for reasonable accommodations (as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act), I saw individuals both inside and outside the institutional structures attempt change only to find themselves rebuffed. The institution itself was not able to accommodate the reasonable and lawful demands of the deaf population of students at the university, but interestingly the efforts of reformers inside the institution were similarly unable to enact significant change. The institution was unable to hear the pleas of its students but was equally unable to accommodate the demands of members of the administration seeking to provide services to these students.
This course is designed for web content developers to learn about the disability access issues faced by people with disabilities in using the web and how web resources can be designed to improve accessibility. The course provides a foundation on how people with disabilities access information on the web using mainstream browsers and specialized assistive technologies like speech renderings. Participants will learn about the two main standards for web accessibility, the W3C Web Content Accessibility Standards and the Section 508 requirements for web materials. The strengths and weaknesses of different evaluation and repair tools will be presented to help participants understand how to use the available tools to evaluate and repair their web resources. Participants will learn about common HTML accessibility problems, and HTML and CSS techniques that can be used to improve accessibility. Captioning of multimedia materials is also covered for Microsoft Media Player, Real Player and Quicktime, and the accessibility of non-W3C technologies like PDF and Flash will also be discussed.
Web accessibility is a hot topic, and now there is a brand new place to gain the knowledge and credentials you need to succeed in this increasingly important field. Northeastern University, in Boston, Massachusetts-- already well known for its technical writing program-- is now offering a graduate certificate program in Interactive Design. This new program, one of the first in its kind, focuses specifically on topics surrounding web accessibility and design for interactive media of all kinds.
With the increasing use of virtual learning environments (VLEs) in further and higher education, the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) which comes into force in September 2002 has particular relevance to developers and providers of VLEs. Developers and vendors can also help to ensure that VLEs are inclusive learning media by understanding the barriers that individuals face (whether or not they use assistive technology) and creating hardware and software designed to be accessible to all users. They should also understand the importance of designing accessible VLE content in order to provide guidance for users.