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Ict to Make Information and Learning Accessible

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on Mon Jun 01, 2015

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New European Union Guidelines

The European Union has brought out new Guidelines for Accessible Information. These cover how to make information accessible for learning and covers books, worksheets, video, audio, PowerPoints, PDFs and more. Following the steps set out in the Guidelines should  mean that learners with visual impairment, physical disability, dyslexia or other form of support need have much better access books, worksheets and other materials.

The intended audience for the Guidelines is wide, covering:

  • school staff
  • librarians
  • colleges and universities
  • publishers
  • support groups and voluntary organisations to name but a few. 

  Together with Education Scotland and Enquire, CALL attended a recent EU meeting held in Riga, Latvia.  CALL's attention was on the ICT4IAL or ICT for Information Accessibility in Learning event, the third and final one in the series on this topic. 

Participants had all contributed to the guidelines and it was now a chance to hear about and agree the final version. A two-step approach is taken with concrete examples included for each step. 

  • Step 1 describes how to make information accessible. It does this for text accessibility, image accessibility and audio accessibility.
  • Step 2 describes how to make other media information access - electronic documents, online resources / websites, or print. 

Following the process set out in Step 1 allows Step 2 to build upon it.

Usually the EU confines itself to making policy and setting out recommendations. In this case, they implemented their own policy and did a fine job in the process. The EU Agency has revamped completely their ICT4IAL website area. More accessible versions of the Guidelines are now available in:

  Why take this step?

The European Union is gradually tightening policies on web and other forms of accessibility. For some years now the UK has been a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Rights for Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). That means that we, the UK, have signed up to the various Articles including Article 9 on accessibility that covers accessibility of information. The EU is now moving to the position where countries have to show what we are all doing to make these policies a reality. 

New requirements on web access will soon come out that will force all public body websites to adapt to the rules. By trying to anticipate these laws now, Scotland can stay ahead of the game.  In parallel with developments by the EU similar ones stapes taking shape in the USA with a full revision of their well-known Section 508 that requires organisations to ensure accessibility for disabled people. 

 

Getting information accessibility right for learners 

What does it mean for you in schools? The Guidelines offer useful descriptions on how to make learning accessible to students. Many schools already do this but the two step approach is helpful as it breaks down steps and gives links to useful tutorials and resources.

 CALL will highlight some of this in future webinars we are planning so if you have questions or want help to try things out, check out our site over the next few weeks.

Tags: visual impairment, dyslexia, accessibility, EU

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