Disability Pride Month, a Reminder to Promote Digital Accessibility

According to the World Health Organization more than one billion people live with a disability. Physical and digital supports allow increased participation in society. These supports also benefit us all through experience consistency, and alternate options of access. In the spirit of July being Disability Pride Month, BCcampus, British Columbia Campus, is sharing an open and free resource to support digital accessibility development for educators. This includes instructional developers and front-line teachers.

Disability Pride Month

Disability Pride Month is highlighting the diversity and individuality of people with disabilities. It is also a means of advocating for approaches and innovations to allow all access to physical spaces, resources and experiences. Disability Pride Month was first celebrated in 1990 in the same years as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was made into law to stop discrimination against people with disabilities.

Free Accessibility Toolkit

I’ve facilitated presentations, awareness sessions and practical webinars over the past few years with the intention of inspiring educational stakeholders to embrace good digital accessibility practices. At these sessions, the reception is warm and genuinely concerned. However, when I have the opportunity to follow up months later, most confess directly or evidenced through their digital wares that they are not making digital accessibility a priority. Time and support guides are reasons reported. BCcampuses’ Open Education Accessibility Toolkit is a practical support document that may nudge some educators’ development practices towards full digital accessibility by providing an easy to read support guide. The Open Education Accessibility Toolkit is a complete guide or reference book for teacher/instructional developers to use to enhance accessibility with their digital learning objects. Developers and instructors can use the hyperlinks on the book’s menu to jump to the area of concern.

The Accessibility Toolkit provides guidance on the following topics.

  • Key concepts
  • organizing content
  • dealing with images
  • colour contrast
  • hyperlinks
  • tables
  • multimedia issues
  • formulas
  • fonts
  • accessibility standards

The eLearningWorld post, Instructors, Improve Accessibility on Your Moodle Courses (3.10), identifies disabilities that can be addressed with good accessibility development practices, details the benefits of implementing accessibility feature when developing digital content and it raises awareness of Moodle accessibility features. A earlier eLearningWorld post, A Few Tips to Create Accessible Word Documents, describes general guidelines to improve digital document readability by adhering to some good accessibility development practices. It might be a good idea to check out these posts to get an overview and then and then open the Accessibility Toolkit for more detail.

Final thoughts

Using good accessibility development practices benefits all end users through learning object consistency, alternate modes of interaction and presentation. These can accommodate permanent, temporary and situational disabilities. Practical resources such as the Accessibility Toolkit are means for all of us to promote digital accessibility. We can use this month as a vehicle to remind developers and instructors that we should consider developing with good accessibility practices to ensure our digital learning events are made to a higher standard and allow all of us to participate in eLearning. There are more open textbooks at the BCcampus Open Textbook OpenED resource if you are curious about this project.

Resources

Amanda Coolidge; Sue Doner; Tara Robertson; and Josie Gray. (2018). The BCcampus Open Education Accessibility Toolkit – 2nd Edition. BCcampus. https://opentextbc.ca/accessibilitytoolkit/open/download?type=pdf

Allan, J. (2022). A Few Tips to Create Accessible Word Documents. https://www.elearningworld.org/a-few-tips-to-create-accessible-word-documents

Allan, J. (2021). Instructors, Improve Accessibility on Your Moodle Courses (3.10). https://www.elearningworld.org/moodle-accessibility-basics-for-instructors

BCcampus Open Textbook Collection. https://collection.bccampus.ca

United Way Canada, Disability Pride Month. https://www.unitedway.ca/blog/disability-pride-month-creativity-and-courage-in-the-face-of-societal-barriers

United States Department of Labor (Labour), https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/odep/odep20220622

John Allan
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John Allan

John is a Canadian who writes about learning object development and online facilitation from a teacher's perspective.

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