A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

TechDis

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1.
#19222

Accessibility and Learning Technology

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.

Webb, Ian. TechDis (1999). Academic>Accessibility>Technology

2.
#19221

Accessibility on the Web: A Brief Overview

In order to make your website as accessible as possible, not only to users with disabilities, but also to those with slow connections, or different browsers or operating systems, the best guidelines to follow are those offered by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative.

McCarthy, Dave. TechDis (2001). Design>Web Design>Accessibility

3.
#19224

Arrangements of Examination and Awarding Bodies for Disabled Candidates, Including Applications of Technology

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.

Harrison, Sue. TechDis (2003). Academic>Accessibility>Technology

4.
#19226

Computer-Mediated Communication and Disability Support: Addressing Barriers to Study

The case study reported here formed part of a linear series of studies undertaken as doctoral research at the Institute of Educational Technology of the Open University between 1994 and 1999. It explored ways in which computer-mediated conferencing (one type of computer-mediated communication [CMC]), could address barriers to study encountered by undergraduate distance learners with long-term health problems, identified by a large scale postal survey of volunteers. These problem areas include: difficulty with handwriting, academic and social isolation and fatigue, together with a need for better interactive communication with support agencies. The approach taken was designed to maximise student autonomy in relation to their studies. Thirteen participants were provided with access to the services of an on-line educational counsellor, both by e-mail and in a confidential peer group conference in the environment of a 'Virtual Campus'. The findings suggest that informal contact with the counsellor in the group environment helped to build rapport and develop confidence for these students to approach her by e-mail when more private advice or help was needed.

Debenham, Margaret. TechDis (2002). Design>Web Design>Accessibility

5.
#19227

Designing Accessible Web Based Courseware with Authoring Tools

Creation of Web based courseware has become easier and quicker, particularly, for non-Web experts with the advent of authoring software which allows authors to put together resources without requiring to learn HTML. However, there are problems regarding the accessibility of resources produced by such software, and this article discusses the nature of these problems and how they can be overcome.

Sloan, David. TechDis (2000). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online

6.
#32920

A Dyslexic Perspective on e-Content Accessibility

This paper gives the web developer an insight into the issues of web accessibility for users with dyslexia (and/or other specific learning difficulties). It covers the four main areas of accessibility: presentation, content, structure and navigation.

Rainger, Peter. TechDis (2006). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility

7.
#19217

A Dyslexic Perspective on e-Content Accessibility

This paper gives the web developer an insight into the issues of web accessibility for users with Dyslexia (and/or other specific learning difficulties). This paper covers the four main areas of accessibility: presentation, content, structure and navigation. The material covered by this paper forms part of TechDis wider range of research into usability and accessibility issues of electronic educational content.

Rainger, Peter. TechDis (2003). Design>Web Design>Accessibility

8.
#19235

E-Learning and Legislation

Using electronic media for learning and teaching is widespread. E-Learning offers opportunities for staff to convey material in a variety of ways and ultimately on 'anytime, anyplace' basis. E-learning materials can range from the simple act of putting lecture notes on line to simulations of real life. This means that distance learning (both off and on campus) is a realistic possibility, with students able to take part in class discussions via email and online discussion forums, and at the same time being able to remotely access materials and information. These materials do not need to be static web pages, as technologies such as broadband improve audio and video may be made available on a faculty Intranet allowing students to review material already covered, or prepare for lectures and tutorials. For example, medical students may review a video of clinical procedures 'streamed' over the intranet and then discuss them in a tutorial, the flexibility of streaming would allow the students to view the video at the their own pace and at times which suit them.

Sloan, Martin. TechDis (2002). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online

9.
#19237

Institutional Web Sites and Legislation

The issue of accessible Web sites and legal arguments for providing them has seen much debate over the past eighteen months. In many countries across the world, anti-disability discrimination legislation has provided the acorn of an argument that service providers should provide their Web presence in a form that is accessible to the disabled community. However, like the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), and its associated guidelines, the providers, and indeed the designers, of the majority of Web sites have by and large ignored these arguments. However, following a recent case in Australia, there is now a very persuasive legal argument for including Web accessibility in the scope of anti-disability legislation in the UK. It is the purpose of this article to review these arguments, consider their consequences for the Web sites of Higher and Further educational institutions and, finally, to consider how the recent Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 might extend these duties further.

Sloan, Martin. TechDis (2002). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Persuasive Design

10.
#19238

PDFs and Accessibility

Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format that allows the page creator to ensure that all fonts, formatting and graphics etc are preserved throughout the document regardless of the platform on which it is being viewed. Due to the control the author has over the style of the document, a number of accessibility problems can be identified.

Draffan, E.A. and Sue Harrison. TechDis (2002). Design>Information Design>Accessibility>Adobe Acrobat

11.
#19240

The Speechlet Project

Speechlet is a system which allows blind students of the Java programming language to use existing course material. Most Java courses use program examples that generate graphic output. The main reason for this is that students enjoy writing programs that produce interesting and exciting outputs. However, a blind student is unable to see the output of their program and is unable to even gauge that their program has worked. Speechlet was therefore produced to allow a blind student to move the mouse pointer over the screen and hear a spoken description of what is there. This paper discusses the reasons for the development of Speechlet, followed by a description of its operation and finally a discussion of its use in practise.

Mullier, D.J. TechDis (2003). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Software

12.
#19220

The TechDis Accessibility Database

The TechDis Accessibility Database is part of the JISC funded TechDis service, alimented by the University of Sussex Institute of Education. This site provides an on-line resource of information about products which are available to assist those with disabilities. The resource is designed to provide information on assistive, adaptive and enabling technologies to the United Kingdom Higher and Further education sectors.

TechDis (2003). Resources>Directories>Accessibility

13.
#19245

To Logo or Not to Logo?

As the new disability legislation becomes law in the UK, Academic websites will be coming under close scrutiny from Disability Rights Organisations. Long established tools that have been used to test websites could, if used in the wrong way, be more of a liability than a benefit. The use of websites as medium for academia is now well established, with a plethora of materials being distributed over Intranets and Extranets. Furthermore, the pervasive Virtual Learning Environment is lending itself to opportunities for interactivity hitherto only possible in face-to-face teaching. But, as more and more material is distributed in this way there is a need for guidelines to ensure access for all.

Phipps, Lawrie, Neil Witt and Anne McDermott. TechDis (2002). Articles>Accessibility>Education>Online

14.
#19242

Towards Accessible Virtual Learning Environments

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.

Cann, Chris. TechDis (2003). Academic>Accessibility>Technology>United Kingdom

15.
#19241

Usability and Accessibility of PDAs in Education

This report is targeted towards students, teachers and educational technology specialists in order to help them understand the practical issues of Personal Digital Assistants, also known as Palmtops or Handheld PCs.

Rainger, Peter. TechDis (2002). Articles>Education>Accessibility>Usability

16.
#19219

User Style Sheet Wizard

This is a simple 'wizard tool' to create a User Style Sheet. These can be extremely useful for students with visual impairments, scotopic senstivity or visual processing difficulties such as some forms of dyslexia. User Style Sheets are a client-side application of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), they can be used to overide the presentation of HTML based web pages. They can be extremely powerful in enforcing the way in which the user desires a web page to be presented. You can set option of text font, size and colour. The font colour of hyperlinks etc. The user style sheets can be used in Internet Explorer, Opera and Mozilla.

TechDis (2003). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Software

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