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Accessibility

Overview

Accessibility is a significant concern for developers of elearning resources. For some, accessibility is a focus in order to meet government regulations (Section 508), for others, it is a desire to provide better service to a wider mix of today's learners.

Designing for accessibility is identical to any other design process: define your audience, define their needs, then provide solutions. The audience for accessibility can be vision impaired, hearing impaired, color blind etc. Careful consideration to the unique needs of these learners can provide a more universally appealing learning resource...and, after all, learning is about breaking boundaries.

In elearning, accessibility involves eliminating barriers to learning that many learners have found in traditional classrooms.

Resources

Creating Accessible Adobe .pdf Files

Alliance for Technology Access
"The Alliance for Technology Access (ATA) is a network of community-based Resource Centers, Developers and Vendors, Affiliates, and Associates dedicated to providing information and support services to children and adults with disabilities, and increasing their use of standard, assistive, and information technologies."

Advocate
An excellent overview of components of Section 508." This article will provide an overview of these new section 508 requirements...to become accessible to persons with disabilities who are federal employees or members of the public who would ordinarily need access to that technology."

Macromedia Accessibility
Good resources for users of Macromedia products (bit of a sell job...but that's to be expected from a commercial site). Quote: "Accessibility involves two key issues: first, how users with disabilities access electronic information, and second, how web content designers and developers enable web pages to function with assistive devices used by individuals with disabilities. "

Workshop - Barrier-Free Online Learning
"Online learning, distance learning, distributed learning, e-learning or whatever it is called is the fastest growing movement in today’s education... One of the results of this explosive growth is that little attention has been paid to making these technologies accessible to people with various disabilities."

Section 508
You can spend hours here. Many useful resources, background information on the development of accessibility regulations, etc. Excellent resource.

CAST
"Founded in 1984 as the Center for Applied Special Technology, CAST is an educational, not-for-profit organization that uses technology to expand opportunities for all people, especially those with disabilities."

Side-by-Side
An excellent comparison of Section 508 and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (W3C). Good series of "implementation resources" also listed. Must read.

Web Accessibility Initiative
The (W3C) initiative for accessibility. Quick Tips page is particularly useful.

Accessibility Course
Looks like a great course...no idea when it is offered again. If interested, probably best to contact the instructor (info is listed on main page).

WebAIM
Excellent resource. Great overview of accessibility, resources, tips, and courses/workshops.

Introducing Accessibility
Good beginner resource

Bobby
"Bobby WorldWide is a tool for Web page authors. It helps them identify changes to their pages so users with disabilities can more easily use their Web pages. For example, a blind user will be aided by adding a sound track to a movie, and a hard-of-hearing user will be aided by a written transcript of a sound file on a Web page. Bobby will recommend that these be added if they do not already exist."

Screen reading software

Speaking to Write
"Realizing the potential of speech recognition for secondary students with disabilities"

GW Micro

Freedom Scientific (JAWS)

All links verified June 2005.

   

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