Making your module accessible
Part of the point of having an Open Educational Resource as an open project is that anyone can use it; so, it makes sense that you’ll want to make it accessible. Accessible means different things to different people, but for the purpose of this module, think of it as meaning that it is useable by as many different people as possible. There are three things to think about: Technology - Presentation - Language
- Is the technology useable by all? For example, some types of videos (Codecs) only work on some platforms and not others (so WMV works on Windows PCs and Windows Phone, but not always on Androids and not normally on Applie or iOS devices).
- How will your OER work if people are using assistive technology, such as screen magnifiers or screen readers to help them? For example, some websites need to be a certain size and if they are expanded the text won’t fit or be readable. A screen reader reads the “ALT TEXT” contained in any images to the person accessing the page. Have you used appropriate ALT tags to ensure they can participate too?
- Is your webpage or learning platform compatible with accessibility standards or is it something you’ve made yourself that might not work for everyone?
Many people find they can read, digest or see information better online and printed if it is displayed in a particular way. For example, many people with dyslexia can read a sans-serif font (one without the feet / lines on letters) and find black on yellow a much easier colour scheme to process. There are two specific things that need considering:
- Original Presentation: What fonts, colours, pictures, and descriptions have you used? Have you put text over images or cluttered things in a way that may make some readers anxious?
- Adaptable design: Sometimes a document can be designed so that it can easily be adapted to meet a users unique need. This applies, amongst many others, to those created in Microsoft Office. For example, if your word document uses “styles” and each heading is saved in a “Heading 1” style, the user can simply adapt that style to a font a colour that suits them and all the headings will change.
At first, it may seem obvious that the language you use will affect who can use your OER. But it isn’t just the national language, but also the words you choose. Many people struggle to read long words or may find particular subjects or words threatening or offensive.
- Long words are best avoided as are long sentences. Keeping words simple can make a real difference to how people can use your OER.
- If your OER is designed for international translation also think about how the words might be understood. For example, using particular slang or colloquial words might not work and neither would mottos such as the English saying “a bird in the hand” (which an English person would take to mean you should be happy with what you have, but a foreign language speaker might not understand at all). Equally, certain words or phrases that are considered casual in some countries could be considered swearing or offensive in others.
- Different cultures have very different approaches to situations. Using examples that could be unusual or offensive to others needs to be considered. For example, a maths question that relates to measure of alcohol in a pub might not be usable by some religious or cultural groups. One example might not matter, but if a whole resource was based around setting up a bar, you might make it inaccessible to many users.