Accessibility in U-Learning: Standards, Legislation, and Future Visions

Accessibility in U-Learning: Standards, Legislation, and Future Visions

Kleber Jacinto (Rural Federal University of Semi Arid, Brazil), Francisco Milton Mendes Neto (Rural Federal University of Semi-Arid, Brazil), Cicília Raquel Maia Leite (State University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil) and Kempes Jacinto (Federal University of Alagoas, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4542-4.ch012
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Abstract

Accessibility means free access to content and services, regardless of one’s physical and cognitive limitations, maximizing the user’s aspect of hardware and software platform independence. Providing this access is a technical issue more than an ethical issue because the characteristics and limiting standards of accessibility are widely known but little used by software engineers, developers, and content producers. Although there is a specific set of standards and legislation to address these difficulties, accessibility is still far from being a priority among developers and content producers. One of the challenges for ubiquitous teaching, in the present and near future, is building tools to support the creation of accessible learning objects, in compliance with current and future standards. This chapter concerns accessibility standards and points out technological ways to enable the creation of support tools in order to minimize accessibility flaws.
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Background

Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media and one of the forerunners of the term Web 2.0, asserts that this new Internet, which provides a platform for “Rich Internet Applications” (RIA), is not a technology, a static pattern, a market niche, but rather, attitudes, concepts and principles which are increasingly dependent on people’s interaction. That is, it depends on everyone being able to collaborate, interact and access knowledge (O’Reilly 2007).

This concept incorporates the existence of all kinds of access devices, with non-interoperable hardware and operating system, leaving the applications to concern about compatibility, and it cannot be denied that most of the content on the Web is designed only for desktop computers (Yang & Chen, 2006). Dealing with adaptations or creating specific content with features compatible to a particular device, are the most usual alternatives, although there are situations where the use of mobile devices is still considered infeasible (Trifonova & Ronchetti, 2003).

The use of mobile devices, from cell phones to ultrabooks, through a wide range of devices such as tablets, for teaching actions comprise the creation of learning objects that compensate the weaknesses of each platform, leverage the specific capabilities and are able to motivate students (Oliveira & Medina, 2010). Having these barriers broken, a fundamental concept in u-learning is implemented, Universal Access (Yang & Chen, 2006).

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