The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) specifies that “States shall take all necessary measures to ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children”, and “ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning”. (articles 7 and 24). While we encourage lecturers to expand access and increase flexibility by moving towards a more blended provision of their courses, they are specialists in their respective disciplines and not necessarily web developers or accessibility experts.
This paper describes research conducted to evaluate the accessibility of course pages within our virtual learning environment and specifically aligns with the theme “student data and learning analytics” particularly relating to learning analytics rather than student data. Furthermore this research also relates to the theme “learning technology for wider impact”. This paper will describe how, using existing open source libraries, we built a reporting tool to define which checks were carried out, how they were carried out, how this data was stored and reported on at module, programme, and faculty level. As the report is available at these various levels, a lecturer can self evaluate their own course pages and staff developers can identify the training and support that may be needed across an entire faculty.
A subset of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines was chosen for this study. These guidelines created by the World Wide Web consortium are a series of guidelines for improving web accessibility. Twelve separate modules within a programme were analysed for such checks as: are web links and images used on the courses accessible? Are headings within long passages of text used appropriately?
As such this study will aim to answer the question – did we make our courses less accessible by moving towards a more blended delivery model.
United Nations, 2006, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) [Online], [2 April 2019]. Available from: https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities.html
World wide web consortium web accessibility initiative. 2008. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). [Online]. [2 April 2019]. Available from: https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/