ICT for Information Accessibility in Learning
What were the main aims of the initiative?
Location, setting, Scope, key events etc.
The ICT for Information Accessibility in Learning project is a multi-partner network of European and International organisations that represent both the learning and ICT communities. The Agency acts as project co-ordinator for the network and works together with European Schoolnet, the International Association of Universities, UNESCO, the DAISY Consortium and the Global Initiative of Inclusive ICTs on all activities.
Geographically the project focuses on Europe as it is funded by a grant by the European Commission under the Lifelong Learning Transversal Programme, Key Activity 3: Information and Communication Technologies. However, through the participation of both partners and experts with an international perspective it is hoped to both gather knowledge and exploit results globally.
There have been three opportunities to network and exchange knowledge with experts and project partners:
The following countries took part in these events: Australia Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, UK, Uganda, USA, Zambia, Zimbabwe
What issues/challenges does the example address?
To achieve the aims stated above, partners and experts from the respective networks have collaborated to develop the Guidelines for Accessible Information. The Guidelines address the challenge of providing learning material that is accessible to all learners. This is especially relevant for teachers working in inclusive classrooms and should be included in initial teacher education and professional development programmes.
The Guidelines for accessible information are an open educational resource (OER) to support the creation of accessible information in general and for learning in particular. These Guidelines aim to summarise and provide links to useful resources that can help people who do not have experience/expertise in information and communications technologies (ICT) to produce accessible information.
The purpose of developing such Guidelines is to support practitioners and organisations working in the field of education to provide accessible information for all learners who require and will benefit from information in more accessible formats. The procedure for creating accessible information is universal and will therefore support all individuals and organisations wishing to make their information more accessible.
How was the Initiative implemented?
In implementing the project plan, the ICT4IAL network set out a number of concrete objectives:
Knowledge exchange and networking
The ICT4IAL network worked with experts in education and ICT from across Europe, as well as those working with key international organisations. The exchange and collection of multi-disciplinary knowledge with regard to accessibility of information for learning lead to the drafting of guidelines for organisations to help them to improve their information accessibility.
Developing and Trialling of Practical Guidelines
The Guidelines developed within the first year of project activities were trialled within three organisations (the Agency, EUN, IAU) working across the compulsory and higher education sectors with the support and direct input of key advisory bodies for ICT (DAISY, G3ict and UNESCO).
Reflection and Evaluation upon Implementation
The process of implementing the Guidelines was closely monitored and evaluated in order to identify learning points that will be of use to other organisations considering future developments in this area of work.
Details of this implementation including the challenges and successful approaches to overcoming challenges within work processes were recorded in an Implementation Evaluation Report for each of the implementing organisations (the Agency, EUN and IAU).
Validation of Guidelines
A process of feedback and validation of the Guidelines via the European and International country network members of the Agency, EUN and IAU, but also the global membership of UNESCO led to a set of agreed practical guidelines to support organisations in providing accessible information.
Dissemination and Exploitation of Results
In addition to the ICT4IAL network sharing project information publicly, each organisation disseminates project outcomes and news within their respective networks and through their established channels. In addition UNESCO will investigate the possibility of international endorsement of the Guidelines and implementation process findings through its official bodies. G3ict will plan a global dissemination campaign among education professionals and people with disabilities.
What where the key Outcomes? What impact/added value did they prove? What were the biggest challenges?
The key outcome has been the Guidelines for Accessible Information. The added value is that these Guidelines were developed as an open educational resource, which can be reused and adapted to the user context. The option of adapting the Guidelines is supported by offering them in various formats – text document, PDF and as a web source. The web source allows for commenting and adding of resources, enabling the Guidelines to be adapted and to promote the sharing of new knowledge and methods for making information accessible.
Although the main focus of the project work was within the European context, feedback from an international audience as well as dissemination to an international audience allows for exploitation of results beyond Europe.
Has the initiative been evaluated or are there plans for this in the future?
As this project is an EU funded initiative, the European Commission regulations for reporting apply. This project was evaluated mid-way by through a formal reporting tool and will be evaluated again at the end of the project in 2016.
Have any plans been made for future direction of the initiative?
All partners have committed themselves to using the project results. As an example the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education has committed to implementing the Guidelines within their organisation, including the development of an accessibility policy for the organisation. This will potentially impact on the production of project outputs from drafting to dissemination as well all Agency activities involving the sharing and exchange of information.
The project website will be upheld to allow future usage and adaptation of the Guidelines for Accessible Information.
What are the main learning points?
Improving the accessibility of ICT and information for learning benefits and empowers all learners, taking account of issues such as equal opportunities, accessibility and the promotion of quality of education.
Providing information on and for learning so it is accessible to all users is crucial, and key information providers within lifelong learning need to act as role models in the field of accessibility and ensure that all information and resources shared are as accessible as possible for all user groups.
To ensure that information on accessibility is shared within school/organisations and integrated into daily practice, school leaders and senior managers must commit to the development and implementation of an accessibility policy and allow time for staff development activity.
While it is important to recognise that there are differences in countries’ policies, practices and educational contexts, it is anticipated that the guidelines will be have broad application. It will be necessary to review this area of work on a regular basis in order to keep up with rapidly changing technology.
Are there further information about supporting materials?
Project website: www.ict4ial.eu
Guidelines for Accessible Information: http://www.ict4ial.eu/guidelines-accessible-information
A guide for making organisation's information accessible: http://www.ict4ial.eu/docs/accessible-for-all.pdf
Case studies, digital learning resources, teacher support re: using ICT in inclusion of learners with SEN: http://sennet.eun.org/studies-and-evidence-wp2
Further information on digital learning resources: http://sennet.eun.org/digital-learning-resources-wp3
Online course on Inclusion and Technology (available in Portuguese, German, Flemish, Estonian, Italian and Turkish): http://sennet.eun.org/teacher-support-wp4