Free online course enabling improved digital accessibility
Academics from the Web and Internet Science (WAIS) research group within Electronics and Computer Science are lead educators on a new, free online course that aims to help learners understand how accessible digital technologies can overcome barriers encountered by people with sensory, physical or cognitive impairments.
The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society has recently been launched on the FutureLearn platform and already thousands of students from more than 50 countries have signed up.
The course has been designed by members of the University of Southampton’s Electronics and Computer Science Accessibility Team in collaboration with seven other European universities as part of the Erasmus+ MOOC Accessibility Partnership – a European project running until September 2017 that aims to provide education on accessible design in ICT.
The course highlights how inclusive design and a better understanding of users’ needs can enable technologies to be more accessible and provide a more inclusive environment. It also aims to make people aware of the wide variety of assistive technologies.
Course Lead Educator Professor Mike Wald, from WAIS, said: “Technology is fantastic but it is important to be aware of the barriers they might cause if digital accessibility is not considered.
“By overcoming these barriers you can involve everyone in the exciting world of technology, so they can enjoy their everyday lives and work.”
The five-week MOOC is open to everyone and, if required, can be completed over a longer period to suit individual needs.
Mike said: “We are delighted to launch this course that we have designed for everyone, including web developers, business managers, elderly or disabled people, and parents of disabled children.
“People have very diverse needs, skills and abilities and, while some products and services are designed to take this into account, others sometimes create barriers for people who have physical, sensory or cognitive impairments.”
The MOOC covers the wide spectrum of accessibility in digital media, and explores how the digital world can be made more open to everyone. It includes the accessibility of the web, as well as a wide variety of different technologies both inside and outside of the home, including computers, mobile phones, washing machines and ATM machines.
Mike added: “The course gives students the unique opportunity to benefit from the extensive knowledge and experience of accessibility experts from eight universities across Europe, as well as the personal experiences of disabled or elderly people.”
To register for the course or to find out more visit www.futurelearn.com/courses/digital-accessibility