The future of
THE GAP BETWEEN OPENNESS
AND ACCESSIBILITY: THE AU
EXPERIENCE WITH OERS
Sandra Law, PhD
Learning Designer, Centre for Learning Design and
Assistive Technologist, Access to Students with Disabilities
October 24, 2013 Session 2
• Students with disabilities in PSE
• Obstacles to accessibility in OERs
• Difficulties in locating accessible resources
• Designing OERs for accessibility
– Basic principles
• Resources for assessing accessibility or OERs
• Making a contribution to accessibility of OERs
Persons with disabilities…
• 14% CAN pop, 15+ yrs claims to have disability. UN 10%
have disability that affects learning.
• > 25% have not graduated from high school vs 13.5%
• Less likely to have college or university degrees (33% vs
48% complete a bachelor degree)
• Have greater expenses (medical, technology, low
• Often hit roadblocks that prevent comprehension of
educational content due to poor course design and
Making the learning
An inclusive learning experience is one that
matches the needs of the individual learner.
Some of the needs that can affect learning
• sensory, motor, cognitive, emotional and
• individual learning approaches
• linguistic or cultural preferences;
• technical, financial or environmental
Obstacles to accessibility in
• Accessibility is an afterthought
• Often seen as constraining creativity
• Inflexible, proprietary formats are used
• Assumptions about the need (medical model)
• Learning object repositories (LORs) may not
foster good practice re: accessibility
– Inaccessible interfaces
– Hard to locate accessible OERs
• Inadequate support & resources for content
designers (UD training, resources, time)
Difficulty in locating accessible
• Merlot.org has a summary of the set of
resources on its LOR that is accessible in
• OER Commons does not provide
accessibility information, interface has
• Connexion (cnx.org) – The content
delivered on their platform is not accessible
though original is.
Designing OERs for
• Use guidelines to inform design process:
– WCAG Perceivable, Operable, Understandable,
– UDL – multiple means of expression, representation,
– AccessForAll – EU interoperability labeling
– Institution accessibility policy and BP
• Use accessibility tools and features available in
software/OS/browser to test (e.g. MS Office, WAVE
toolbar, Accessibility Checker)
• Use accurate metadata when configuring your material or
uploading to an LOR
Making your content more
• Flexible styling
• Keyboard & mouse control
• Audio or text descriptions of non-text information
• Text captions for audio that are indexed and searchable
• Navigation Aids (headings, TOC, skipping links)
• Open formats Accessible Digital Office Document (ADOD)
• Avoid sensory cues (colour, sound, shape cues)
• Label resources appropriately to match user needs.
• Allow creation of variations by the OER community
Improving accessibility of OERs
• Accessibility reviews of open textbooks
• Accessible online libraries (bookshare.org)
• Accessibility information for resources
posted in some repositories (e.g. Merlot)
• Open Courseware Consortium ToolKit
• What could improve this resource”
• What does this OER do right?MIT OCW
Physics I: Classical Mechanics
• 3PlayMedia (2013). 2014 Roadmap to web
accessibility in higher education. 22p.
Available from http://www.3playmedia.com.
• Gruszcynska, A. (2011). Accessibility
issues in the context of UK Open
Educational Resources Programme. 15p.
• Hocking, C., Brett, P. & Terentjevs, M.
(2012). Making a difference – inclusive
learning and teaching in higher education
through open educational resources.
Distance Education, 33(2), 237-252.
• Raue, K. & Lewis, L. (2011). Students with
disabilities at degree-granting
postsecondary institutions. (NCES 2011-
018). Department of Education, National
Center for Education Statistics.
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing
• Open Educational Quality Initiative (OPAL)
(2011). Beyond OER: Shifting focus to open
educational practices. The OPAL Report
• Scanlon, E. (2011). Open science: trends in
the development of science learning. Open
Learning, 26(2), 97-112.
• Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology.
(December, 2011). Opening the Door:
Reducing Barriers to Post-Secondary
Education in Canada. 130p.
• Willems, J. & Bossu, C. (2012). Equity
considerations for open educational
resources in the glocalization of education.
Distance Education, 33(2), 185-199.
• WAVE (wave.webaim.org)
• AChecker.ca – urls, upload html
• Color Checkers (Color Filter, Vischeck,
Accessibility Color Wheel, Colour Contrast)
• The Accessible Digital Office Document
• OER Resources
– Floe Inclusive Learning Design
– Open Educational Resources InfoKit
Video/audio: only a very small minority (1%) were accompanied by a transcript. From Designing OER with Diversity in Mind” presentation; PowerPoint presentations used small font, were overloaded with text, used relatively small font. Fail to use unique titles for slides, most did not use alt descriptions for images and charts. Majority of resources failed to use “True styles” to apply headings and formatting correctly
Difficulty locating accessible OERs
- What about making your contribution to OERs
Inadequate support and resources available to content designers
-Guidelines that are too confusing or complex to apply
OERCommons is pretty good you can personalize the display to suit own needs by changing bg and text colour, font size, line spacing, links (prominence of), navigation (show TOC) but can’t skip to content. Need to press space bar to select an radio button. No skip to content link that I can see.
Merlot accessible OER section
Problems with accessibility information in Merlot. The submitter just links to the accessibility policy or statement of the submitting organization. However in many cases these documents are not available – receive 404 error. And the policy of the organization does not tell you about the actual learning object.
Separate presentation from content (transform resource, augment, replace)
Flexible styling - spacing, colour, font, size, linearize (CSS)
Audio or text descriptions of non-text information presented in videos, graphics or images
Text captions of information in audio. Text captions are index-able and searchable
Avoid relying on sensory cues (colour, sound, shape)
Semantic mark up (navigation, styles, headings, TOC, skip links)
Keyboard function as well as mouse cotnrol
Open formats that can be repurposed and exchanged. The Accessible Digital Office Document (ADOD) Project Variations by the OER community
Label resources appropriately to match anticipated user needs
1 Navigation - make navigation consistent, simple and accurate - this includes meaningful headings, skip to content links, reduce multiple pages opening, dynamic menus that function for keyboard users too.2 Naming practices - avoid "click here" or similar vague text. Just make the item a link with meaningful text, reduce duplication3 Don't rely on sensory cues to convey information - the ability to perceive colour, shape, or sound should not be the sole method used to convey information or participate4 Choose fonts that are san serif and at relative, compared to absolute values. Minimum 11 point5 Alternatives for non-text items - meaningful and relevant alt text or long descriptions for images, transcripts and captions for multimedia content6 organization - use plain language, chunking of information and bulleted or numbered lists as appropriate7 100% keyboard functionality - allows users to take advantage of built in navigation elements that help them get to the desired area quickly, then to function and interact with the item.8 Getting Help - users should find it easy to find help, compatibility statements and if accommodations are required the appropriate information is readily available9 Accessible Documents - if providing documents to students, provide ones with accessible features such as navigation and organization via use of styles, alt text for images, narration or captions/transcripts for multimedia. This includes PowerPoint, Word, Excel and PDF documents. At minimum the document should be searchable for any word in that document. And a transcript for any multimedia embedded.10 Choose LMS/CMS wisely in an informed manner - many have accessibility features built in. These features ensure maximum independent use by those who are intended to use the application. Be informed.
Keyboard control with YouTube video, Subtitles and transcripts, lecture notes,