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Free online learning course opens up accessibility to all

An online learning course on digital accessibility, designed by field experts from a computer science team, has been launched.

‘Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society’ is free and open for anyone to enrol on, and no previous accessibility knowledge is required. The course aims to teach learners how accessible digital technologies can aid people with a range of impairments, as well as explaining the universal benefits of inclusive design.

Topics explored on the course include the following: ‘What is Digital Accessibility and why care?’; ‘Challenges and Barriers met by Disabled People, including Video and Audio Barriers and Subtitles’; ‘Desktop, Laptop and Mobile Accessibility’; ‘Digital Accessibility and Business’; and, ‘Screen Reader, Braille, Switch Access Technologies’.

The ‘Digital Accessibility’ course is classified as a ‘MOOC’ – massive open online course – a term for online learning programmes with no limit on the number of people that can study them. So far, around 2,500 people from more than 125 countries have signed up.

Course content has been designed by members of the Web and Internet Science (WAIS) research group within the Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) Accessibility Team from the University of Southampton.

The programme is being taught by Mike Wald – a professor at the University of Southampton leading a team that teaches digital accessibility – and E.A. Draffan – a senior research fellow and member of the university’s Electronics and Computer Science team.

Lead educator Mike Wald told e-Access Bulletin that after years of teaching digital accessibility at the university, the ECS team wanted to find a way to reach more people. Wald said that the course allows learners to “explore how a better understanding of users’ needs can enable the development of technologies that are accessible and provide a more inclusive environment.”

The course programme runs over five weeks on the Future Learn website, with approximately three hours per week of study time needed. Although the official start date was October 17, anyone is free to join at any point, as learners can study at their own pace and make up the extra time whenever they choose. Resources also remain available online after the course finishes. Wald said that he expects the programme to run again in February.

‘Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society’ is supported by MOOCAP (MOOC Accessibility Partnership – a European project that provides education on accessible design) and funded by the ERASMUS+ grant programme of the European Union.

To sign up for ‘Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society’, visit the future Learn website at the link below:
http://eab.li/30 .

Find out more about the MOOC Accessibility Partnership at the project’s website:
http://eab.li/31 .

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