BBC Jam is having to suspend its free online learning resources – see BBC Suspends Net Learning Project. These resources are aimed at children in the 5-14 age range and one of the main objectives was to try and make the resources as accessible as possible.
The developers have worked hard. The learning objects are engaging and there is a suite of accessibility preferences, which can be saved by the user and re-presented at log-in without having to set them up again. Preferences include:
* text to speech;
* facility to change text size and colour, and background colour;
* a set of standard text and colour combinations;
* and choice of language (English, Gaelic, Welsh).
Many of the learning resources have been developed in Flash, so there are a couple of sticky bits, but on the whole the concept seems to work quite well. One of the things I particularly liked was that the text to speech facility also worked in Welsh (however I couldn’t seem to get the text to be read out in Gaelic – but that could just have been me!).
There were also interesting plans to make certain core subjects available this year:
* for people with severe learning disabilities;
* people with visual impairments (audio described video);
* people with hearing impairments;
* in BSL (British Sign Language);
* and symbol supported resources.
So you’d better hurry if you want to take a look at one way in which accessibility preferences can be included in a learning environment, as the BBC Jam website is only available until 20th March 2007. I do hope this work is re-instated as it proves that learning resources can be engaging, interactive, and accessible.