Why electronic content is not always accessible to visually impaired students

O'Reilly, D. and McKeever, R. (2008) Why electronic content is not always accessible to visually impaired students. [Conference Proceedings]


During the transition from paper to electronic distribution of learning material, the needs of visually impaired students are being overlooked. This is happening despite the emphasis on equal access for all to higher education. If the electronic content that is uploaded onto Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) is intended to be used by students about whom no presumptions of visual ability can be made, then accessibility must be guaranteed for all users. In this paper, we attempt to identify the various reasons why so much electronic content is un-accessible to visually impaired students. This paper is based on the quantitative analysis of a survey conducted on 130 university lecturers in February 2008. This paper examines the current laws and standards that exist for accessibility of online electronic documents, and the extent to which these laws and standards are implemented in the electronic content that is added to VLEs. We set out the basic standards to which all electronic material should conform to ensure that it is accessible to users with visual impairments. We show that the majority of accessibility problems that exist for visually impaired students result from people incorrectly using technology. © 2008 IADIS.

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