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Accessible Online Learning: Personalized Access to NSDL, Teachers' Domain and Access for All standards

Access for All Standard

With support from the U.S. Department of Education, NCAM established a working group on access within the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS), which includes learning companies, educational institutions and international standards groups. This working group has developed and is promoting open access specifications for online learning platforms that embed the capacity to transform and customize presentation of content based on individual user profiles. The Access for All specification has been adopted as an international standard (ISO/IEC 24751: Individualized Adaptability and Accessibility in E-learning, Education and Training) and can be implemented in learning management or knowledge transfer systems across every possible domain, from K-12 and post-secondary learning resources to professional development and lifelong learning.

Personalized Access to NSDL: An Accessibility Portal

NCAM is currently working with the National Science Digital Library(NSDL) to create a portal which will allow users to search for accessible resources across all participating NSDL collections. The project will add Access for All metadata to the NSDL Collection System (NCS). Project partners Teachers' Domain, Science and Math Informal Learning Educators (HowToSmile), and the Middle School Portal: Math and Science Pathways (MSP2) will include their resources' accessibility metadata in the NCS, and the portal will provide a unified search interface that finds the right resources to match the needs of students with disabilities. Additional collections are welcome to add their own Access for All metadata. Documentation will be provided and training will also be available.

Teachers’ Domain: Transforming Resources for User Preferences

NCAM and WGBH Interactive collaborated to embed the Access for All standard within WGBH’s Teachers’ Domain, a K-16 library of rich-media science resources that support standards-based teaching and learning. NCAM added descriptions to the video and images in the middle school life sciences strand to make these resources accessible for users who are blind or have low vision; resources also have captions for students who have difficulty hearing audio, and many resources can be used by students who require keyboard controls for their preferred assistive technology. User profiles allow teachers to efficiently find resources that meet the needs of individual students in different classes. Students with disabilities can find and access the same content as their peers. The National Science Foundation supported this real-world implementation within Teachers Domain to model how digital libraries that utilize IMS/ISO Access for All specifications can automatically respond to individual needs and preferences, paving the way for improved learning experiences for all users. The project evaluation showed that Teachers' Domain's accessibility metadata greatly reduced the time it took for teachers to plan lessons for their students with disabilities.

Teachers’ Domain: Lesson Plans developed with Perkins School for the Blind

Support from the Grousbeck Family Foundation enabled NCAM to work with faculty at the Perkins School for the Blind to adapt or develop lesson plans built around Teachers’ Domain resources. These lesson plans as well as a summary of strategies and resources for teaching students with visual impairments are available for use by any teacher with a blind or visually impaired student.