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Rosa Navarrete, Sergio Luján-Mora. Accessibility considerations in learning objects and open educational resources. Abstract Book of the 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (ICERI 2013), p. 1144, Seville (Spain), November 18-20 2013. ISBN: 978-84-616-3849-9.
The importance of web-based learning environments is growing increasingly, since they significantly influence the scope of the educational proposals that they support. In such context, the Open Educational Resources (OER) Initiative, promotes the teaching, learning and research, through public domain resources that can be found in the Web and have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others, depending on which license is used.
The OER initiative seeks to use information technology to promote equitable access to knowledge and educational opportunities across the world. The initiative targets educators, students, and self-learners worldwide. The digital resources provided in such environments are called Learning Objects (LO), i.e., pieces of knowledge designed by instructors that make sense for themselves and are independent of the context of use. In this regard, LO are fundamental elements of a new conceptual model for content creation and distribution. They are destined to change the form of learning, highlighting the content design, development, and delivery.
The development of LOs must include didactical issues, applicability and interoperability of the technology, and its adaptability and reusability in different contexts. Moreover, its development should also address the concept of web accessibility to ensure access by people with disabilities, considering physical and mental limitations of individuals due to birth problems or problems associated to aging. Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of making websites and web content usable by people with disabilities: it means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web.
Currently, there are some standards that deal with LO’ accessibility issues, such as users’ models, learning scenarios, interaction preferences, devices capabilities, metadata for specifying the delivery of any resource to meet users’ needs, and software accessibility and usability.
In particular the IMS AccessForAll project proposes an adaptive model for digital resources that attempts to match resources and services to users’ needs and preferences. There are two AccessForAll specifications: the Accessibility for Learner Information Package specification (AccLIP) that expresses the learner’s accessibility needs and preferences, and the AccessForAll Meta-data specification (AccMD), which fully describes accessible learning content and its ability to match a learner’s preferences.
There are quite a few websites that offer OER (e.g., OpenCourseWare websites), but the level of accessibility of these websites varies greatly. Therefore, in this paper we present the results of the analysis of the accessibility of some of the most important websites of OER, in consideration of the above specifications. The analysis is conducted from two points of view: on the one hand, the accessibility of the website itself is analyzed; on the other hand, the accessibility of the OER available on those websites is also analyzed.