Thursday, November 30, 2006

Making e-Learning Accessible

Texas has a new law that requires all government web sites to be accessible. We believe that this law also applies to online education provided by state governments. This really isn't new. The laws have been on the US Government books for a long time. But, it sometimes take a while for these things to trickle down.

I'm intersted in this because it's been a concern of mine for a long time. I wrote the first Special Needs policy for the Virtual High School when we first got it going. I've been talking about equity and access for years.

The virtual schools have begun to pay attention to the issue, but most of them don't have policies about course design to insure accessibility. Public organizations should have been thinking about the access issues for a long time, but some haven't, or don't thoroghly understand the issues. It's not a single issue, there are a number of them.

There are many resources on the web to help. Here are just a few of my favorites:

Watchfire is a free service that will provide an accessibility report on any single web page entered on the site.

The National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) has a variety of resources including MAGpie which is a free tool for adding captioning and audio descriptions to rich media.

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