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NCDAE: The National Center on Disability and Access to Education

Improving web accessibility in higher education
through system-wide reform

ATIA 2006 Presentation Highlights

On January 20, 2006, the National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE) and the National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education (AccessIT) teamed to sponsor a mini-strand at the ATIA National Conference held in Orlando, Florida. Each presenter has graciously allowed us to archive their presentation on the NCDAE site.

The ATIA summary is also available.

Marsha Allen

Marsha Allen of the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access presented information about accessibility and usability. She focused on the need to ensure that electronic information technology is usable, which assumes accessibility. Her second session focused on specific strategies for accomplishing this goal.

In Marsha Allen's second session, she presented the steps to create a distance learning module accessible to all students. The module development guideline can be easily altered to help a distance learning program get started on the accessibility pathway.

Pat Brown

Information technology has many potential benefits for people with disabilities. Pat Brown and her team at AccessIT developed an awareness video of the barriers experienced by students with disabilities to accessing information technology in education settings. The video also included some suggestions for making positive changes to increase accessibility in these environments. This awareness video was offered as a key resource to any information technology training.

Madeleine Rothberg

Madeleine Rothberg discussed how everyone learns differently, and therefore, how one accessibility compliant resource may mean accessibility for everyone, but be optimal for no one. Therefore, a transformable, flexible resource system is more conducive to personalizing learning. Rothberg and her colleague Joseph Scheuhammer from the University of Toronto Adaptive Technology Resource Centre then demonstrated a number of accessibility technologies. One example includes Web-4-All, which provides users with a personal "smart card." This smart card automatically changes a computer's settings to that of the individual's preference, thus providing an individualized computer accessibility solution. The Inclusive Learning Exchange (TILE), Collection Workflow Integration System (CWIS) and ANGEL Learning were also demonstrated.

Sheryl Burgstahler

More people, including those with disabilities, are looking to distance learning to obtain an education. Sheryl Burgstahler discussed her research regarding accessibility and distance learning. Accessibility is usually not included in the production phase of distance learning programs.  In her research, Burgstahler found ten indicators of an accessible distance learning program that can easily be applied easily to any distance learning program.

Martin Blair and Kurt Johnson

Martin Blair and Kurt Johnson hosted the last session of the NCDAE strand. This session consisted primarily of questions regarding accessibility issues. Blair and others provided additional information on some of the services and resources provided by the organizations that had presented earlier that day. Many education institutions are implementing distance education programs and are experiencing problems regarding accessibility. This session provided attendees with information for making their programs more accessible.