At the end of November 2016 I studied on the FutureLearn’s new MOOC on accessibility; Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society. The course was led by Professor Mike Wald of the ECS Accessibility team at the University of Southampton, and supported by members of the Erasmums+ MOOC Accessibility Partnership. Previously in my role at the University of Southampton, I was lucky enough to call Mike a colleague so was looking forward to engaging in the MOOC.
Unfortunately, due to work pressures, I wasn’t able to start the MOOC until the week after it finished – but completed before it officially ended!
I was incredibly impressed with the MOOC and enjoyed engaging with the learning materials; videos produced showcasing interactions from users with different needs, contributions from academics across Europe and discussion forum contributions from end users with accessibility needs and those who support users.
A good reminder for myself at the start of the course was that digital access is the physical (e.g. interacting with a washing machine), in addition to the UXD of the virtual interaction.
In the introduction video there were a number of ‘voices’ from all the contributors to the MOOC (I really liked this part) and Mike’s message:
“Everybody can think of themselves as only temporarily not having a disability, because at some point in their life as they get older, they will have some sort of disability.”
Professor Mike Wald, University of Southampton
Contributors came also from industry, where organisations have leads for accessibility, who gave great insight into leading on accessibility in an organisation and instigating change:
“You could boil the ocean when you think about accessibility!”
“So responsive design, responsive web is incredibly important, and knowing how mobile technologies use accessibility, if I’m honest, is probably more important than software accessibility.”
David Caldwell, IT Accessibility Manager, Barclays Bank
There was a useful reminder about the differentiation between usability, accessibility and user experience:
- usability – whether something is usable by a target group, for a specific purpose
- accessibility – whether all users can access the system
- user experience – any experience of a user related to technology
The topics I found of particular interest, and wish to follow up further:
Transcription / captioning
We currently offer transcriptions for video materials, but are considering our approach to this in the future i.e. what would be preferable to the end user and we can manage from a resource perspective.
Accessibility checker tools
I didn’t realise there was an Accessibility Checker tool for Word, Excel and PowerPoint and found it useful to play around with.
We have been keen to explore user testing (in addition to the user feedback we already gather), but have not yet progressed. Will add this to the road map and ensure it includes consideration around accessibility user testing and conformance testing.
I’m keen for us to investigate seeking an accessibility kite mark for UDOL Content, and will investigate further e.g. Daisy.
Accessibility road map
For Content Development I plan to create an accessibility road map planning activity over the next few years.
I will be adding this MOOC to the team’s staff development plan, so they can undertake it during a future running. I will also look at staff completing tutorials on accessibility, such as those offered by W3.org and webaim.
Post the new trimester start, I’m looking forward to sharing my reflections on this with the team.