Accessibility 2.0: Blended Learning For Blended Accessibility

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Brian Kelly gave a plenary talk on Accessibility 2.0: Blended Learning For Blended Accessibility at the 'Blended Learning to Splendid Learning' Technology Innovation in Higher Education Conference at the Manchester Metropolitan Business School on 9th June 2006.


  • 1. Accessibility 2.0:Blended Accessibility For Blended Learning Brian Kelly UKOLN University of Bath Bath UK Email [email_address] UKOLN is supported by: About This Talk Brian Kelly reviews the traditional approaches taken to addressing the accessibility of Web resources. Although a political success, Brian argues that the WAI model is flawed. An alternative approach, developed by UKOLN and TechDis, is described. Brian concludes by arguing for a user-focused approach Accessibility 2.0 This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 licence (but note caveat)

2. Contents

    • Background
    • WAI The Answer To Universal Web Accessibility?
    • WAI Limitations
    • An Alternative Way: A Holistic Approach To E-Learning Accessibility
    • Building On This Work: The Tangram Metaphor
    • Accessibility 2.0
    • Questions

3. About Me

  • Brian Kelly:
    • UK Web Focus
    • Adviser on best practices and innovative uses of Web
    • Funded by JISC and MLA (Museums, Libraries and Archives Council)
    • Supports Higher and Further Education and cultural heritage communities
    • Based at UKOLN, University of Bath
  • Related work:
    • Providing advice on maximising access to networked resources
    • Working with JISCs TechDis advisory service
    • Co-author of several papers on e-learning accessibility: CJLR paper in 2004, ALT-C and W4A paper in 2005, W4A paper in 2006,

4. About You

  • Are you:
    • Familiar with WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative)?
    • Using WAI WCAG guidelines in your:
      • Web site development?
      • e-learning development work?
    • Using the guidelines successfully?
    • Using any other approaches to e-learning accessibility?

5. WAI

  • WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative):
    • Part ofWorld Wide Web Consortium (W3C) since 1997
    • Aims to develop strategies, guidelines, and resources to help make the Web accessible to people with disabilities
  • Developed guidelines for:
    • Web content: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
    • Authoring Tools: Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG)
    • User Agents (e.g. browsers): User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG)
  • WAIs work:
    • Has had high impact
    • Is being embedded in legislation e.g. US Section 508, UK SENDA,

WAI 6. Problem Solved?

  • Is the accessibility of e-learning solved?
    • We just need to ensure WAI guidelines are implemented
  • Your views:
    • We should be ensuring our e-learning resources are universally accessible
    • Following WAI guidelines can help ensure we achieve this
    • We have to, or we could be sued

Rreview of WAI Approach

  • But:
    • Is the WAI model simple or simplistic? (flawed as we cant do much about browsers and authoring tools)
    • What about other developments in IT?
    • Is the WAI approach designed for Web sites relevant for learning services?
    • Is universal accessibility possible or is it more of a rallying call / an aspiration?

7. Reviewing WAI

  • WAI's ambitions are clearly laudable
  • But does its approach work?
  • Let's briefly look at:
    • Experiences of use of WAI
    • The WAI model
    • The WCAG guidelines
    • The context of use
    • What is accessibility?

Rreview of WAI Approach 8. WCAG Conformance

  • Page authors can only follow WCAG guidelines. Several surveys carried out using automated tools (which gives upper limit on accessibility)
    • DRC report: 19% A, 0.6% AA conformance based on 1,000 Web sites
    • UK Museums report: 42% A, 3% AA conformance based on 124 Web sites
    • UK Universities surveys (2002, 04):43%/58% A, 2%/6% AA based on 160+ Web sites

DRC Disability Rights Commission, independent body legislated to stop discrimination and promote equality of opportunity of disabled people.

  • Implications
  • These low conformance levels can indicate:
    • Public sector organisations don't care
    • Guidelines are difficult to implement
    • Guidelines are inappropriate, misleading, wrong,

Rreview of WAI Approach 9. The WAI Model

  • The WAI model:
    • Requires all three components tobe implemented in order forthe WAI vision to be achieved
    • Is of limited use to end userswho have no control over browseror authoring tools developments
    • Is confusing many think WCAG is WAI
  • A simple model developed in late 1990s, but:
    • Does the evidence suggest it work?
    • Does it reflect the diversity of Web usage?
    • Does it reflect real-world technical environment and developments?
    • Does it reflect real-world political and cultural environments?

Review of WAI Approach 10. WCAG Difficulties

  • Certain Priority 2 and 3 guidelines cause concerns:
  • 11.1 Use W3C technologies when they are available and appropriate for a task ...
    • Promotes own technologies
    • Appears to ignore major improvements in accessibility of non-W3C formats
  • 11.1 and use the latest versions when supported
    • Goes against project management guidelines
    • Logical absurdity: when XHTML 1 came out WAI AA HTML 4 compliant sites downgraded to A!
  • 3.2Create documents that validate to published formal grammars
    • Dodgy HTML (
      ) can be rendered by browsers this is an interoperability issue

Rreview of WAI Approach 11. Universal Accessibility?

  • Is universal accessibility:
    • A legitimate aim, which can be achieved with an appropriate set of guidelines?
    • Possibly a useful political slogan, but not achievable in reality?
  • Our thinking:
    • How can scholarly work in HE be accessible to people with learning disabilities?
    • Underlying approach should be widening participation
  • Universal approaches:
    • For machine-to-machine communications (XML), and is not suited for the diversity of individuals (e.g. their abilities, environment, cultural environment, requirements, )

Rreview of WAI Approach 12. Framework For Diversity: Accessibility

  • Accessibility the Challenges
    • WAI WCAG important area and high visibility
    • But the model is flawed, fails to take into account developments e.g. can you use Podcasts?
  • Holistic ( Blended) Approach
  • Holistic approach to e-learning accessibility developed
    • Accessibility of learningoutcomes(not necessarily digital resources) is paramount
    • WAI WCAG areguidelines
    • See " Implementing A Holistic Approach To E-Learning Accessibility " prize-winning ALT-C 2005 paper
    • Follow up paper at W4A 2005 (May 2005) further developed model

Holistic Model WAI 13. Accessibility in Context

  • A framework has been developed which places accessibility & usability within a wider context:
    • The context
    • A range of policies
    • A compliance regime

Purpose Sector Funding Resources Context Accessibility/Usability Privacy Policies Finance External Self-assessment Penalties Learning Compliance Digital Library Programme Broken Standards Research External factors:Institutional issues (funds, expert