Consortium Pursues Online Learning for the Visually Impaired
As pervasive as the Internet has become, there is one group of people that is still unable to realize many of its benefits. However, thanks to the work of CANnect, a consortium of schools and philanthropists dedicated to overcoming this obstacle, the visually impaired may soon acquire unprecedented access to the Web and much of its affiliated technology.
Working with a $50,000 grant awarded in November 2008 by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, CANnect is pursuing three projects aimed at giving the visually impaired new opportunities for full access to Internet technology:
- A comprehensive "How-to Guide" for creating accessible online learning content. The guide shows course content developers how to create learning materials that are usable and accessible for all students.
- A series of workshops aimed at raising the awareness of Web site developers and course designers to the principles of universal design--ensuring that Web and online learning content is usable for all students.
- A study that examines the popular learning management system Moodle in terms of usability for blind/visually impaired students. While CANnect's report found that the vast majority of Moodle is technically accessible, the report lays out ways in which the experience can be improved for blind/visually impaired students.
Said a spokesperson for CANnect, "These new resources can change how educators and content developers design online learning programs, thus making such opportunities more accessible for all learners."
Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.