Open access encourages free use but does not necessarily provide any standards against which quality controls or suitability can be measured (Camilleri, 2014). The lack of awareness and planning for the difficulties faced by disabled students can unintentionally create more barriers with OERs than might be the case when accessing resources through traditional publishers, where the legal obligations of equal access may apply to all their customers. But as OERs facilitate collaborative practices (Ehlers, 2011), we suggest that working collaboratively can encourage content providers to develop resources that consider accessibility and usability issues.
The authors will discuss two ongoing projects involving OERs that not only seek to encourage collaborative authorship but also intend to include accessibility and usability standards as part of the authoring process and content outputs. The first is the MOOCa European project to develop a MOOC on accessibility and universal design with the involvement of seven countries. Course content has been planned in detail with activities related to different subjects allocated to each organisation. As the materials have been created, they have gone through a review process by at least one other organisation to consider the quality of the content and its accessibility. Activities have been created in small units or steps which have been found to improve engagement of online resource (Guo et al). Metadata is also used to provide information such as alternative descriptions, length of activity and keywords. This approach aided the remediation of accessibility issues, copyright clearances and the general organisation of activities. The second project involves the redevelopment of the SlideWiki platform for creating, collaborating and sharing slide-based OERs. By creating an accessible platform it aims to encourage a collective approach to authoring and sharing of resources while ensuring their accessibility. Recommendations will be made regarding the unique issues of accessible OER content, as well as encouraging those remixing and reusing the materials to retain and improve their intended universal design principles.
Camilleri, A.F., Ehlers, U.D. and Pawlowski, J., 2014. State of the art review of quality issues related to open educational resources (OER).
Ehlers, U.D., 2011. From open educational resources to open educational practices. Elearning Papers, 23, pp.1-8.
Guo, P.J., Kim, J. and Rubin, R., 2014, March. How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of mooc videos. In Proceedings of the first ACM conference on Learning@ scale conference, pp. 41-50. ACM.