Accessibility

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Image courtesy of MalKav

Publishing in an accessible manner should be easy, if you have paid attention to accessibility in the other parts of the OER life cycle. However, there are a few final accessibility considerations when publishing OER.


Self-publishing

Though an OER may meet accessible standards, the website it is published through should also be accessible. There are several things that can be done in the underlying HTML code to make it more accessible to screenreaders and other accessibility devices (see Use Accessibility for more information). To check whether or not a web page is accessible, use the Wave Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool[1]. However, even if a web page is tested through an accessibility validator, there may still be parts of the website that are inaccessible. The only way to know whether a website is accessible is to test it with feedback from a person with disabilities. When self-publishing, you should provide some method of contact, whether it is an e-mail or physical address. By including contact information, learners can provide feedback about accessibility issues and other aspects of the OER.

ADA and Section 508

U.S. law stipulates through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that persons with disabilities must be accommodated in public spaces. There has been some disagreement about just how much accommodation a website must provide (Brodkin, 2007). But regardless of how particular lawsuits are settled, it is clear that there is at least some expectation of accommodation for persons with disabilities. And in the open education movement, where the primary goal is to increase access to learning opportunities, these expectations are even higher. See Accessibility in the Adapt OER chapter for steps that can be taken to make your OER more accessible.

Section 508 is a part of U.S. law that stipulates federal agencies provide equal access to electronic information. If you are an employee of a federal agency you are required to make educational materials accessible to persons with disabilities (United States Access Board, n.d.).

Third-party publishing

Many large repositories have accessibility features. Some features are built in to the software used, such as MediaWiki and Plone (See Learning Support Systems in Compose OER), and others are developed on top of the software. The level of accessibility differs between repositories, but most are at least readable by screenreaders. Some might require, or at least allow, closed captioning or alternate versions of the OER that are more accessible. You should contact a repository before submission to find out what accessibility features are available. They may also have suggestions on how to your OER more accessible.

Some repositories that would be useful for improved accessibility:

Notes

  1. http://wave.webaim.org/

Sources

Brodkin, J. (2007, January 5). Blind Americans demand web access; Target fights back. Network World. Retrieved June 18, 2008 from http://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/010508-target.html?page=1
United States Access Board. (n.d.). Section 508 Homepage: Electronic and Information Technology. Retrieved June 18, 2008, from http://www.access-board.gov/508.htm

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