Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Do the Funders Know the Online Accessibility Requirements?

I was invited to participate in a symposium at Harvard in November.  This is a follow-up to a similar event about a decade ago resulting in the publication of Dede’s Online Professional Development for Teachers – Emerging Models and Methods (2006).

I had made it clear that I've not been doing online teacher professional development lately.  That I was currently more focused on issues of access and equity in online education.  I even recommended some other folks currently doing more with oTPD (online Teacher Professional Development).  But, they invited me anyway.

I was asked to write a piece for discussion.  It was interesting to go back to the online teacher professional development project and my attempts to bring more accessibility to our online courses. The laws haven't changed much over the past decade, but our understanding of what access is, and the enforcement has changed.

One thing I was thinking about though, was that at the time, the program officers never mentioned access.  I don't think it was on their radar screen.  Clearly, every grant that's funded by either ED or NSF carries with it agreements to meet applicable civil right legislation.  

I asked, in my paper, if the oTPD programs that exist today are meeting their accessibility obligations, and if the funders are asking.

I'll post more about the reaction to my paper, after the event.