Joint BSI/JISC CETIS Accessibility Workshop

February’s Accessibility SIG (Special Interest Group) meeting was jointly run with BSI (British Standards Institution) as an informal workshop, focussing on the accessibility standards’ work being done around the world across various domains. It took advantage of the presence of a number of international standards developers and strategists, who were in the UK (United Kingdom) at the time, to foster exchange of work and ideas between the standards and education communities.

Presentations ranged from an overview of the accessibility standards work being done across the globe by Alex Li (Microsoft) to the development of accessible widgets by Elaine Pearson and her team at Teesside University.

Several of the presenters talked about their ongoing work in accessibility specifications and have asked for feedback from the community. So if you would like be involved in helping to shape these developments, people working on the following specifications would really appreciate your feedback:

* Standardisation Mandate M/376 (Phase 2) – Dave Sawdon from TRE Limited described how this work will create European accessibility requirements for the public procurement of products and services in the ICT domain (similar to the American VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template), which was introduced by Ken Salaets of the Information Technology Industry Council). The development team are particularly looking for public procurement officials to help define this standard.
* Access For All v.3.0 – works on the premise that personalisation preferences need to be machine readable, so it uses metadata to describe these personal needs and preferences. Andy Heath and the specification development team at IMS would like people to download it, try it out, implement it, check it works, and provide feedback.
* BS 8878:2010 Web accessibility. Code of practice – Jonathan Hassell, BBC, talked us through the background and purpose the recent web accessibility Code of Practice and Brian Kelly, UKOLN presented BS 8878 in the context of an holistic approach to accessibility. However, whilst it is now available for public use, user testing of the Code of Practice can only really be done in the field, so please join the community of practice and provide feedback on your experiences of implementing BS 8878.
* Mobile Applications Accessibility Standard – This standard, proposed by Yacoob Woozer of the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions), is still very much at the drawing board stage, with the focus on mobile applications rather than on creating websites that can viewed on different devices. However, suggesstions on what to include in the standard would be welcome.

Several of the presentations focussed on the work of specific standards bodies – David Fatscher from BSI gave us an overview of BSI; the various ISO standards which feature accessibility elements were introduced by Jim Carter from the University of Saskatchewan; and Shadi Abou-Zahra of W3C talked about the WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) guidelines.

And finally, I am very much appreciative of the work that the BSI staff and Andy Heath put into making this event such a success. It was it was a great opportunity for the standards and education sectors to get together and I hope that some lasting collaborations have been forged.

AccessApps Wins Best Accessibility Solution Award

Those of you who attended last week’s JISC CETIS Accessibility SIG meeting and saw Craig Mill (from JISC RSC Scotland North and East) demonstrate the AccessApps toolset will be pleased to hear that it has won the Best Accessibility Solution award at the IMS Global Conference in Barcelona.

JISC describes AccessApps in their news story as “a collection of open source and freeware portable applications – all running from a USB stick and designed to give learners the tools they need to experience learning in the way that suits
them, when they need it”.

It was great to see how customisable the toolset can be and for those of you who couldn’t make it, I’m just in the process of writing up my notes from last week’s meeting. They should be ready in the next day or so.

Congratulations to Craig and the AccessApps team!

First Three Parts of ISO Multipart Accessibility in e-Learning Standard Published

The first three parts of the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) “Individualized Adaptability and Accessibility in E-learning, Education and Training” Standard have just been published (16th September 2008).

This standard integrates the IMS ACCLIP (Accessibility for Learner Information Package) and IMS ACCMD (AccessForAll Meta-data Specifications) into a single multi-part standard.

The first three parts are now available (cost is around £65 each) and consist of:

* ISO/IEC 24751-1:2008 Individualized Adaptability and Accessibility in E-learning, Education and Training Part 1: Framework and Reference Model.
Part 1 of the multi-part standard. It lays out the scope and defines the reference model for Parts 1 and 2 below.

* ISO/IEC 24751-2:2008 Individualized Adaptability and Accessibility in E-learning, Education and Training Part 2: “Access For All” Personal Needs and Preferences for Digital Delivery.
Part 2 of the multi-part standard. It covers the IMS ACCLIP Specification and defines accessibility needs and preferences, which can then be matched to resources (as defined in Part 3 below).

* ISO/IEC 24751-3:2008, Individualized Adaptability and Accessibility in E-learning, Education and Training Part 3: “Access For All” Digital Resource Description.
Part 3 of the multi-part standard. It covers the IMS ACCMD Specification and defines the accessibility meta-data that expresses a resource’s ability to match the needs and preferences of a user (as defined in Part 2 above).

A further four parts have been given “New Project” status and will cover non-digital learning resources and physical spaces.  They have a target publication date of December 2010.

Part 8 of the multipart standard will describe how language and learning preferences will be referenced and is expected to be published by the end of 2009.