Open Educational Resources as an opportunity for access to learning for people with disabilities in Latin American and Caribbean
Rosa Navarrete, Sergio Luján-Mora
Abstract Book of the 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference (INTED 2014), p. 1306, Valencia (Spain), March 10-12 2014. ISBN: 978-84-616-8411-3.
(INTED'14b1) Congreso internacional / International conference
A significant number of universities around the world have deployed an important effort for increased access to learning in open context; indeed the most important Open Educational Resources (OER) websites are maintained by high prestige universities. The OER initiative is particularly important for people from developing countries to whom the access to formal learning is restricted by social-economic conditions and by the limited number of universities of high qualification. These educational resources have been released by their authors with an open free license and are available through websites for self-learning and reuse by the educators. For people with disabilities, self-learning through web resources becomes a valuable alternative that can overcome access barriers to formal learning, allowing them to improve their educational level and consequently develop skills to achieve a higher level of employment. However, despite the increasing offer of OER, there is no significant response in relation to resources that can be suitable for people with disabilities. According to the World Report on Disabilities 2011, released by the World Health Organization of the United Nations, more than a billion people live with some kind of disability, experiencing a lower quality of life, with severe barriers to access to educational opportunities and employment. The exposed scenario is critical in countries where the issue of disability is combined with the high incidence of poverty and low coverage of health and social assistance, like some countries in Latin American and Caribbean. For this region, the report released by the World Health Organization mentions 85 millions of people with disabilities. For people in Latin American and Caribbean countries, the language barrier is added, so it is necessary that the OER websites provide content in Spanish language. This research explores some of the most representative OER websites that offer content in Spanish language, to verify the existence of resources that meet accessibility conditions to recommend their use in the context of self-learning and as resources to support teaching of people with disabilities, particularly for Latin American and Caribbean countries. Additionally, considering that most efforts to improve the educational level for people with disabilities are focused on the initial or basic education, is important to verify that the educational level of the open resources correspond to high school as minimum. Since visual and auditory disabilities have a high rate of incidence in the population, this study focuses on the accessibility considerations about resources for people with such disabilities. The accessibility analysis is performed based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 developed by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), because is a world-wide standard accepted by many countries. This study can be useful to verify that the universities involved in the OER initiative encourage the inclusion and equitable access to learning opportunities to people with disabilities, and therefore, they fulfill their role to support the vulnerable sectors of society.