OERs and Accessibility

It was a great morning at Open Ed 2015. I spent the morning in sessions with Amanda Coolidge, Sue Doner, Sam Johnson, Tara Robertson, Skip Stahl, Jutta Treviranus because I am particularly interested in the connections between OERs and instructional design. I would like to see our use of OER become a natural part of the course design process just as accessibility is now. The following notes are a pastiche of links, cut and pasted description from the program and random notes, mostly for myself and the IDs back at HSU.

This special session took an in-depth look at the accessibility efforts of BCcampus, CAST, and the FLOE Project as they relate to open educational resources.

1. User Testing Open Textbooks with Students with Print DisabilitiesBC Open Textbook Projects – 40 free and open textbooks for highest enrolled and then 20 for skills and tech training

The project: don’t reinvent – they went out and adopted proven open textbooks. They did faculty reviews. Disability resource centers often start the semester without the needed text because they are not accessible. They created 135 open textbooks, 294 adoptions, saving over a million dollars for students. BC Campus Open Ed

Tara Roberts did user testing.

Accessibility Toolkit
Instructional Designers can use this who “may not know what they don’t know.”

Delivered in Pressbooks.

Emphasis on UDL and integration of students personas “a web for everyone.”

What’s next? Incorporating it into the dev process, french translation, second round of testing with trades students with disabilities.


BCcampus will briefly describe the process of user testing open textbooks with post-secondary students who have print disabilities. The focus will be on the lessons learned in this process and how this data fed into the creation of a toolkit on accessibility for open textbook authors. Presenters will share failures and reflect on how to improve this process in the future. The presentation will showcase the BC Open Textbook Accessibility Toolkit and share best practices with the audience on how to make all open educational resources accessible, therefore making the materials truly open to all.

2. CAST projects
Skip Stahl and Sam Catherine Johnston
Started as an assistive learning project around Universal Design for Learning.
Created “Book Builder” in 2006 with support and prompts built in – available at cast.org

Three learning networks: recognition, strategic, and affective – the what how and why of learning. Evidence, Interoperability and accessibility are the most important issues in OER today.

Quality, not quantity are the keys to adoption today.

Inclusion, mixed use. These problems require distributed intelligence. A framework for extending the capabilities of the individual mind.


CAST’s Book Builder
STEM Bridge program: Case method in college OERs – math, communication and problem-solving skills through case method. Multiple means of engagement.

Interoperability is one of the most important issues in k-12 – we need to know how students are accessing and using OER. This should happen in the same way that we are with the LMS analytics.

Project Open (https://open4us.org) is an initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help TAACCCT grantees meet OER, accessibility, and quality requirements for grant deliverables in the U.S. Department of Labor’s two billion dollar Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College & Career Training (TAACCCT) program. We will describe the process of working with community and technical colleges to develop Open Educational Resources that follow universal design for learning (UDL) guidelines and web accessibility standards. We will focus on what we have learned about how to support UDL implementation and web accessibility best practices from our engagement with colleges through the largest OER initiative to date (the Department of Labor’s TAACCCT program). We will showcase udloncampus.cast.org a set of web resources we have developed to help postsecondary stakeholders integrate Universal Design for Learning into the development of course materials, teaching methods and assessments and discuss how OER creators can move from addressing web accessibility to designing for all students through UDL.

The Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) Center (http://aem.cast.org/) has a mandate to provide technical assistance resources designed to increase the availability and use of curriculum resources and delivery systems designed accessible from the outset, including elementary, secondary, postsecondary and workforce-related OER. We will review best practices in OER creation with an emphasis on EPUB3; the emerging importance of equipping OERs with the capacity for data interoperability related to student usage, and we will emphasize the important role of accessibility as foundational component in the creation of UDL-aligned OER.

3. FLOE project

The FLOE Project (http://floeproject.org) leverages the diverse pool of Open Education Resources (OER) and the opportunity to create variants to optimize learning for the full diversity of learners. FLOE supports learners in discovering and refining their understanding of how they learn best, specifying this, and then the FLOE services can be used to match those needs for a given learning goal.

Inclusive Design Research Centre 23 years of designing for inclusion. Design that considers the full range of human diversity. Disability is the mismatch between the needs of the individual and the service environment offered.

Three Dimensions of Inclusive Design
Participatory – “nothing about us without us” – co-design accessible design and tools
Systemic – cognizant of context and larger impact

Collaborative and connected
Economic and Digital Exclusion – lack of accessibility leads to lack of access to jobs
Compared to the virtuous cycle of Digital Inclusion


Learner Dashboard for Lifelong Learning
Floe project ecosystem
learning analytics where you are self represented.
They have hack-a-thons on accessibility.

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