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Rosa Navarrete, Sergio Luján-Mora. Evaluating accessibility of Open Educational Resources websites with a heuristic method. Abstract Book of the 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference (INTED 2015), p. 1707, Madrid (Spain), March 2-4 2015. ISBN: 978-84-606-5761-3.
There is a growing trend in using Open Educational Resources (OER) to improve quality in teaching and learning processes. The importance of OER is recognized in government initiatives and instances such UNESCO in the 2012 World Open Educational Resource Congress.
OER are digital contents with educational purpose available through websites that can be freely reused by educators and self-learners. However, people with disabilities usually face access barriers when using these resources. The causes of access barriers are two-fold: OER can be no accessible or websites can have accessibility issues in their design.
According to a last estimation of the World Health Organization, there are over a billion people with distinct disabilities living in the world. Nowadays it exists a global commitment to protect their rights, including access to educational opportunities, therefore the accessibility of OER websites is essential to make certain that people, in spite of their disabilities, can take advantage of this initiative.
In previous works, we conducted accessibility evaluation in OER websites through automated tools as a preliminary and quick way of evaluation, but with some drawbacks related to the reliability of results. Some of these tools have problems related to correctness and completeness of results: it is possible to obtain false positives (warnings of non-problems) and false negatives (non recognizing of real problems).
These evaluation tools can automatically analyse a vast amount of web pages in a short time, but they can give low accuracy rates and no necessarily the evaluation results reported by each of them are coincident.
The aim of this research is to complement the evaluation of web accessibility in OER websites, using a heuristic method based on “Barrier Walkthrough”, proposed by Giorgio Brajnik, a web accessibility researcher.
In this method, an accessibility barrier can be perceived by a user with disabilities as a condition that affects his effectiveness to complete tasks in the website with or without specific assistive technology. The barrier depends on the kind of disability, the type of assistive technology being used, the proposed tasks, the features of the web pages, and further effects of the barrier.
This method requires the identification of some scenarios. A scenario is defined by a user profile and a description of tasks to be achieved. The user profile includes users and assistive technology like: blind users with screen readers, low vision users of screen magnifiers, and so on.
Finally, it is necessary to define a list of problems and its connection to a barrier in a scenario. For each of these cases an assessment of its severity is done considering their impact in effectiveness, productivity, satisfaction and achievement of goals.
The results presented in this paper contribute to validate the method and offer another perspective of web accessibility evaluation of OER websites based on specific disabilities. Additionally, this work is part of a method for evaluating the quality of OER and the websites where these are published.