Session descriptions: Accessibility

We only have 2 presentations in this category, but they are going stretch our thinking about instructional design and accessibility.

Category Accessibility

Accessibility in Online Learning, Chad Leaman, Neil Squire Society

There is no perfect “accessible” website – even Google, who’s mission is to make the world’s information universally accessible, continues to struggle in making user environments that are accessible to all users.

At the Neil Squire Society, we utilize a variety of e-Learning delivery models to provide computer skills, career development, and health and wellness courses online to a variety of Canadians with a variety of disabilities.  Accepting that there is no “one-size fits all” for the needs of all learners, nor for all disability use cases, we have found two major themes in accommodating a variety of learners: universal design and open source / open APIs.

In the showcase, a variety of free, open tools and simple programming techniques will be shown in practice.  The focus will be on simple things you can immediately do to make your learning environments more inclusive and accessible to all learners.

Moodle for the Visually Impaired, VCC

One never know what someone else sees, or hears, until they put themselves into the other person’s shoes. We had heard in a couple of occasions that the Visually impaired (VI) program was having some challenges with Moodle, but didn’t really understand what that could be all about.  The project was assigned to the new DLSupport person. She took this task very seriously, with a pair of earphones, and working through the material like a Visually Impaired person, she worked on the course for 1 month. She consulted with the department every step of the way.  Some of the most important changes were:

*       Removed blocks that were unnecessary or inaccessible

*       Consolidated information (week 0 and week 1)

*       Changed links and labels so everything starts with a number to correspond to the week

*       Removed formatting in the content to read more smoothly in a screen reader

*       Organized content to view in pop-up windows so it is easier for visual impaired navigation.

We also considered some best practices in this process:

*       Simplicity is best

*       Taking into account screen reading capability when designing text and content

Currently the course is a good model and template for other accessible courses and future development. We know that if we develop Moodle courses with these guidelines in mind, they will be accessible and wont need a complete overhaul of the existing courses.

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