Archive for April 4th, 2007

Web Accessibility

The Web offers an unprecedented tool for teaching and learning. Unfortunately, the Web also creates many obstacles for learners with disabilities when accessing the Web. Today, approximately ten percent of the general population has some form of disabilities that will interfere with their use of the Web. Inaccessible Web content is an obstacle that prevents learners with disabilities from fully participating in the information revolution. Unless the Web sites are carefully designed with Web accessibility in mind, the effective use of the Web in teaching and learning are limited that may leave learners with disabilities discouraged and dependent upon others as before.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) established the Web Access Initiative (WAI) to promote and achieve Web functionality for people with disabilities. In 1999, the WAI published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG) [www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/] which consists of fourteen guidelines, each with three checkpoint levels for Web developers to meet. In addition to a set of fourteen guidelines for assisting Web developers to create accessible Web sites, WAI published a list of ten quick tips to accessible design.

The Web is transforming teaching and learning and it has the potential to open new information worlds to the learners with disabilities. In addition, the Web offers independence and freedom and provides so many new opportunities to learners. However, these independence, freedom, and opportunities will not become reality for all learners unless all educational Web sites are created with Web accessibility in mind. As teachers, we need to make our educational Web sites accessible for all of our students.

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