IDRC - Celebrating 25 Years

1993 - 2018

The Instructional Environment:
Optimizing Access to Web-Based Learning Resources


Laurie Harrison
Adaptive Technology Resource Centre
University of Toronto

Presentation Notes:


http://snow.utoronto.ca/access/ud

 

The Universal Design Opportunity:


  • Shift has occurred in the design of information technology as transformability is now being mainstreamed to enable a multi-modality architecture

Varied Demands:


  • Transformability
    • user preferences (hardware and software)
    • institutional preferences (evolving delivery systems)
  • Usability
    • translateability
    • indexibility
    • re-purposing learning objects

Challenges in Universal Design:


  • obtaining an overview and determining the structure of the material
  • orienting and moving to desired sections of the information or interface
  • obtaining translations of graphically / aurally presented information

General Principles: Multi- Modality


  1. Web as an information medium, not a visual medium
  2. Facilitate alternative rendering of content (ie auditory & visual)
  3. Accommodate user preferences for access

Some Examples:


  1. Web as an information medium, not a visual medium:
    Cascading Style Sheets

    2. Alternative rendering:
    Multimedia using SMIL and Real G2 Player
    • Allows rendering in varied modalities, depending on user preferences
    • Captioning, Descriptive Video, Languages

    3. Accommodating User Preferences:
    WebCT: A Case Study...
    • A before and after look at a courseware interface, modified for accessibility enhancement
Inaccessible Course Home Page Accessible Course Home Page
  • Graphical Banner Title
  • Icons have no ALT text
  • Frames only
  • Orientation ("Click here")
  • Text in visual columns
  • Selectable Text
  • Icons have ALT text
  • Frames or No Frames
  • Meaningful text
  • Linearizes

Web based learning on the rise...


  • dramatically increasing number of Web-based courses

     

  • spurred a growing industry of "courseware" tools to assist educators

     

  • courseware also used to complement traditional lecture-based programs

Examples:


  • WebCT, TopClass, CourseInfo, Virtual-U, Lotus Learning Space, Web Course in a Box
  • framework for curriculum, utilities and class management tasks
  • assembles Web pages created by instructor - into an organized framework
  • step-by-step guides create components - course home page, bulletin boards, quizzes

Potential...


  • courseware platforms could easily facilitate access to education for students with disabilities
  • ironically, very few have included basic accessibility considerations

Trends


  • Courseware developers are now scrambling to improve accessibility
  • Rehab Act compliance, ADA pressure
  • New versions showing improvements:
    • WebCT
    • CourseInfo

Useful Design Strategies


  • Intuitive, logical, consistent structure
  • Navigation / location information
  • Resource overviews
  • Options for more or less detail
  • Context sensitive help

Best Practices

  • Use non-proprietary formats (open standards such as SMIL, HTML…)
  • Provide standards, guidelines and templates
  • Provide combination support in instructional design / accessible design to instructors/faculty



What about PDF files?


  • Graphics and complex layouts can be problematic
  • Navigability depends on how it was created

 

Validation


Automated validation is available using the following tools: 1. BOBBY Online Validation (CAST)
  • Bobby is a web-based public service offered by CAST that analyzes web pages for their accessibility to people with disabilities as well as their compatibility with various browsers. The analysis of accessibility is based on the W3C's WAI Page Author Guidelines. http://www.cast.org/bobby

Validation


Automated validation is available using the following tools: 1. BOBBY Online Validation (CAST)
  • Bobby is a web-based public service offered by CAST that analyzes web pages for their accessibility to people with disabilities as well as their compatibility with various browsers. The analysis of accessibility is based on the W3C's WAI Page Author Guidelines. http://www.cast.org/bobby

Validation


Automated validation is available using the following tools: 1. BOBBY Online Validation (CAST)
  • Bobby is a web-based public service offered by CAST that analyzes web pages for their accessibility to people with disabilities as well as their compatibility with various browsers. The analysis of accessibility is based on the W3C's WAI Page Author Guidelines. http://www.cast.org/bobby

The Accessibility Challenge


  • The need for a more transformable and usable Internet, increasing accessibility for all users, will be a driving force in the shaping of the future development of learning resources on the Web.