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Last Updated: 4/2005 Access to Technology: Questions & Challenges Jeff Carter Executive Director, D.C. LEARNs, Washington, D.C. Webmaster: LiteracyTech.org.

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Presentation on theme: "Last Updated: 4/2005 Access to Technology: Questions & Challenges Jeff Carter Executive Director, D.C. LEARNs, Washington, D.C. Webmaster: LiteracyTech.org."— Presentation transcript:

1 Last Updated: 4/2005 Access to Technology: Questions & Challenges Jeff Carter Executive Director, D.C. LEARNs, Washington, D.C. Webmaster: LiteracyTech.org Jeff Carter Executive Director, D.C. LEARNs, Washington, D.C. Webmaster: LiteracyTech.org

2 Last Updated: 4/2005 Why Is it Important to Think About Learners’ Special Needs When Integrating Technology?

3 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: Adults with Learning Disabilities, ERIC Digest No. 189 and Assistive Technology: Meeting the Needs of Adults with Learning Disabilities, National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center, 1996 Why Is it Important to Think About Learners’ Special Needs When Integrating Technology? Many learners have disabilities and most technology is designed for people with “normal” abilities. For example, it is estimated that as many as 50%-80% of ABE students have LD. Media is becoming increasingly complicated to decode, due to new kinds of media technology, such as the World Wide Web. Many learners have disabilities and most technology is designed for people with “normal” abilities. For example, it is estimated that as many as 50%-80% of ABE students have LD. Media is becoming increasingly complicated to decode, due to new kinds of media technology, such as the World Wide Web.

4 Last Updated: 4/2005 Assistive Technology: What Is It?

5 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: Adults with Learning Disabilities, ERIC Digest No. 189 and Assistive Technology: Meeting the Needs of Adults with Learning Disabilities, National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center, 1996 Assistive Technology: What Is It? ”[A]ny technology that enables an adult with learning disabilities to compensate for specific deficits” A technology device designed to “increase the independence of individuals with learning disabilities by enabling them to compensate for deficits, enhance self-confidence, and participate more fully in all settings: work, school, home, and leisure.” It tends to refer to technologies that are high-tech and/or computer- based. ”[A]ny technology that enables an adult with learning disabilities to compensate for specific deficits” A technology device designed to “increase the independence of individuals with learning disabilities by enabling them to compensate for deficits, enhance self-confidence, and participate more fully in all settings: work, school, home, and leisure.” It tends to refer to technologies that are high-tech and/or computer- based.

6 Last Updated: 4/2005 Assistive Technology vs. Making Technology Accessible Assistive technology helps learners compensate for the disability. Making technology accessible: Tools and practices that assist learners get around barriers created by poorly designed technology. Similar, but not the same…. Assistive technology helps learners compensate for the disability. Making technology accessible: Tools and practices that assist learners get around barriers created by poorly designed technology. Similar, but not the same….

7 Last Updated: 4/2005 Using Technology with Learners: Rarely “One Size Fits All” Technology is flaky and unpredictable. Software that is a “gem” to one person may be a stinker for you. Moreover, because every individual has a unique set of strengths, weaknesses, interests, and experiences, not all technologies will be appropriate for all adults. For each situation, consider:  the individual's unique set of strengths, weaknesses, etc.;  the function to be performed; and  the particular context in which the technology will be applied. Technology is flaky and unpredictable. Software that is a “gem” to one person may be a stinker for you. Moreover, because every individual has a unique set of strengths, weaknesses, interests, and experiences, not all technologies will be appropriate for all adults. For each situation, consider:  the individual's unique set of strengths, weaknesses, etc.;  the function to be performed; and  the particular context in which the technology will be applied.

8 Last Updated: 4/2005 Example: Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities Can you name some?

9 Last Updated: 4/2005 Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities Complex or incoherent design Inconsistent or confusing navigation or organization Distracting visual or audio elements that are hard to turn off Lack of alternative ways or modes of presenting information,  Lack of graphics  Alternative text for graphics (can be converted to audio captions)  Captions for audio Animated text, blinking objects Poorly chosen colors:  Color that is used as a unique marker to emphasize text  Text that inadequately contrasts with background color Complex or incoherent design Inconsistent or confusing navigation or organization Distracting visual or audio elements that are hard to turn off Lack of alternative ways or modes of presenting information,  Lack of graphics  Alternative text for graphics (can be converted to audio captions)  Captions for audio Animated text, blinking objects Poorly chosen colors:  Color that is used as a unique marker to emphasize text  Text that inadequately contrasts with background color

10 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: How People with Disabilities Use the Web, W3C Working Draft, 4 January 2001, Web/Overview.html Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #1: Online Shopper with Color Blindness Mr. Lee is in the market for some new clothes, appliances, and music. As he frequently does, he is spending a weeknight evening shopping online. He has one of the most common visual disabilities for men: color blindness.  What is color-blindness?  How might shopping online present difficulties for Mr. Lee? Mr. Lee is in the market for some new clothes, appliances, and music. As he frequently does, he is spending a weeknight evening shopping online. He has one of the most common visual disabilities for men: color blindness.  What is color-blindness?  How might shopping online present difficulties for Mr. Lee?

11 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: How People with Disabilities Use the Web, W3C Working Draft, 4 January 2001, Web/Overview.html Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #1: Online Shopper with Color Blindness Color blindness is a lack of sensitivity to certain colors -- often the inability to distinguish between green and red.

12 Last Updated: 4/2005 *Graphic: Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #1: Online Shopper with Color Blindness

13 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: How People with Disabilities Use the Web, W3C Working Draft, 4 January 2001, Web/Overview.html Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #1: Online Shopper with Color Blindness Mr. Lee may have difficulty reading the text on many Web sites. For example, where the sale prices are indicated in red text on a green background. Possible Solutions? Mr. Lee may have difficulty reading the text on many Web sites. For example, where the sale prices are indicated in red text on a green background. Possible Solutions?

14 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: How People with Disabilities Use the Web, W3C Working Draft, 4 January 2001, Web/Overview.html Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #1: Online Shopper with Color Blindness Mr. Lee may find that on some sites, the colors can be controlled by his own user style sheets that he can use to override the styles defined by the Web site author(s). For example, on those sites where the sale prices were indicated in red text, he might be able to change that style. (Try out style sheets here: Mr. Lee may find that on some sites, the colors can be controlled by his own user style sheets that he can use to override the styles defined by the Web site author(s). For example, on those sites where the sale prices were indicated in red text, he might be able to change that style. (Try out style sheets here:

15 Last Updated: 4/2005 Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #1: Online Shopper with Color Blindness Unfortunately, user-defined style sheets only work well with sites that are designed to accommodate them, and they are not easy to create. Note, however, that some sites—even some software— offer the user options for viewing their pages. See for example: Unfortunately, user-defined style sheets only work well with sites that are designed to accommodate them, and they are not easy to create. Note, however, that some sites—even some software— offer the user options for viewing their pages. See for example:

16 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: How People with Disabilities Use the Web, W3C Working Draft, 4 January 2001, Web/Overview.html Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #2: Classroom student with dyslexia Ms. Olsen attends a community college. She has attention deficit disorder with dyslexia, and the combination leads to substantial difficulty reading. Her school recently started to use more online curricula to supplement class textbooks. She is worried about reading online. How might her needs be accommodated? Ms. Olsen attends a community college. She has attention deficit disorder with dyslexia, and the combination leads to substantial difficulty reading. Her school recently started to use more online curricula to supplement class textbooks. She is worried about reading online. How might her needs be accommodated?

17 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: How People with Disabilities Use the Web, W3C Working Draft, 4 January 2001, Web/Overview.html Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #2: Classroom student with dyslexia She might try text-to-speech software. She may find that she is able to read along visually with the text much more easily when she could hear certain sections of it read to her with the speech synthesis, instead of struggling over every word.  Sample synthesized speech: She also finds that some Web sites are much easier for her to use than others. How might the graphics of a site be a factor? She might try text-to-speech software. She may find that she is able to read along visually with the text much more easily when she could hear certain sections of it read to her with the speech synthesis, instead of struggling over every word.  Sample synthesized speech: She also finds that some Web sites are much easier for her to use than others. How might the graphics of a site be a factor?

18 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: How People with Disabilities Use the Web, W3C Working Draft, 4 January 2001, Web/Overview.html Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #2: Classroom student with dyslexia Some of the pages that rely heavily on graphics might help her focus in quickly on sections she wants to read. In some cases, though, where the graphics are animated, it is very hard for her to focus, and so it helps to be able to freeze the animated graphics or text. (examples: Some of the pages that rely heavily on graphics might help her focus in quickly on sections she wants to read. In some cases, though, where the graphics are animated, it is very hard for her to focus, and so it helps to be able to freeze the animated graphics or text. (examples:

19 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: How People with Disabilities Use the Web, W3C Working Draft, 4 January 2001, Web/Overview.html Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #2: Classroom student with dyslexia Can you think of some other suggestions for students who have dyslexia?

20 Last Updated: 4/2005 Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #2: Classroom student with dyslexia People with reading difficulties often benefit from adjusting the contrast or switching to white-on-black. Windows XP and Mac OS X, for example, have this feature built in. Other ideas:  Customize the colors/backgrounds with user style sheets, as Mr. Lee did in the previous example.  Print the information onto paper. People with reading difficulties often benefit from adjusting the contrast or switching to white-on-black. Windows XP and Mac OS X, for example, have this feature built in. Other ideas:  Customize the colors/backgrounds with user style sheets, as Mr. Lee did in the previous example.  Print the information onto paper.

21 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: How People with Disabilities Use the Web, W3C Working Draft, 4 January 2001, Web/Overview.html Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #3: Central-field vision loss, hand tremor, short-term memory loss Mr. Yunus has central field loss (he see only the edges of the visual field). He wants to use the Web to research family history and read the news from home. He also finds it confusing when new browser windows pop open without notifying him. What suggestions do you have for him? Mr. Yunus has central field loss (he see only the edges of the visual field). He wants to use the Web to research family history and read the news from home. He also finds it confusing when new browser windows pop open without notifying him. What suggestions do you have for him?

22 Last Updated: 4/2005 Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #3: Central-field vision loss, hand tremor, short-term memory loss Use a screen magnifier to help with his vision and his hand tremor; when the icons and links on Web pages are bigger, it's easier for him to select them. User style sheets. (Why?) Look for Web sites that do not have a lot of movement in the text. Use a browser that allows you to turn off pop- up windows Use a screen magnifier to help with his vision and his hand tremor; when the icons and links on Web pages are bigger, it's easier for him to select them. User style sheets. (Why?) Look for Web sites that do not have a lot of movement in the text. Use a browser that allows you to turn off pop- up windows

23 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: How People with Disabilities Use the Web, W3C Working Draft, 4 January 2001, Web/Overview.html Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #4: Clerk with cognitive disability Mr. Sands has bagged groceries for the past year at an online grocery service. He has Down syndrome, and has difficulty with abstract concepts. He also has difficulty reading and doing mathematical calculations. Recently, he visited the customer Web site for the grocery service from his computer at home. How could the grocer make the Web site accessible to Mr. Sands? Mr. Sands has bagged groceries for the past year at an online grocery service. He has Down syndrome, and has difficulty with abstract concepts. He also has difficulty reading and doing mathematical calculations. Recently, he visited the customer Web site for the grocery service from his computer at home. How could the grocer make the Web site accessible to Mr. Sands?

24 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: How People with Disabilities Use the Web, W3C Working Draft, 4 January 2001, Web/Overview.html Barriers to Using the Web for People with Cognitive or Learning Disabilities: Case Study #4: Clerk with cognitive disability It could use pictures wherever possible. Some of the products descriptions could use multimedia that includes audio descriptions. For an example of this, see the online tutorials at You could design the site so that you may interact with the site without much reading: For example, when he clicks on an icon showing a product, it could send his choice directly to an order form. It could use pictures wherever possible. Some of the products descriptions could use multimedia that includes audio descriptions. For an example of this, see the online tutorials at You could design the site so that you may interact with the site without much reading: For example, when he clicks on an icon showing a product, it could send his choice directly to an order form.

25 Last Updated: 4/2005 *From: How People with Disabilities Use the Web, W3C Working Draft, 4 January 2001, Web/Overview.html Barriers to Using the Web: More Tools Keyboard Navigation Alternative Browsers (such as Lynx) Keyboard Navigation Alternative Browsers (such as Lynx)

26 Last Updated: 4/2005 See: Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning Architects practicing universal design create structures which accommodate the widest spectrum of users possible. Designing for the needs of special populations increases usability for everyone. The classic example is the sidewalk curb cut. Although originally designed to help those in wheel chairs negotiate curbs, curb cuts ease travel for everyone. Architects practicing universal design create structures which accommodate the widest spectrum of users possible. Designing for the needs of special populations increases usability for everyone. The classic example is the sidewalk curb cut. Although originally designed to help those in wheel chairs negotiate curbs, curb cuts ease travel for everyone.

27 Last Updated: 4/2005 See: Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning Universal Design for Learning (UDL) draws upon and extends principles of universal design. Curriculum should include alternatives to make it accessible and appropriate for individuals with different backgrounds, learning styles, abilities, and disabilities Four fundamental assumptions:  Students with disabilities fall along a continuum of learner differences rather than constituting a separate category  Teacher adjustments for learner differences should occur for all students, not just those with disabilities  Curriculum materials should be varied and diverse including digital and online resources, rather than centering on a single textbook  Instead of remediating students so that they can learn from a set curriculum, curriculum should be made flexible to accommodate learner differences. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) draws upon and extends principles of universal design. Curriculum should include alternatives to make it accessible and appropriate for individuals with different backgrounds, learning styles, abilities, and disabilities Four fundamental assumptions:  Students with disabilities fall along a continuum of learner differences rather than constituting a separate category  Teacher adjustments for learner differences should occur for all students, not just those with disabilities  Curriculum materials should be varied and diverse including digital and online resources, rather than centering on a single textbook  Instead of remediating students so that they can learn from a set curriculum, curriculum should be made flexible to accommodate learner differences.

28 Where Does This Leave Us? Evaluation of classroom technology must include accessibility checks. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. There’s some recognition among software and Web site developers regarding Web accessibility, but more research is needed on the impact of using technology and electronic media with adult learners with special needs. Software designers, online course designers etc., need us to help them design more accessible technologies. Evaluation of classroom technology must include accessibility checks. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. There’s some recognition among software and Web site developers regarding Web accessibility, but more research is needed on the impact of using technology and electronic media with adult learners with special needs. Software designers, online course designers etc., need us to help them design more accessible technologies.


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