WCAG 2.0 and Assistive Technology in eLearning

 

Developing courseware for visually impaired students in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0

Technology is inevitably entering into the classroom reality and it is safe to say that it has a substantial impact on almost every aspect of education. This includes learning methodology and the courseware itself. Apart from numerous well-known advantages, such as improved access to learning materials, real-time feedback or self-paced learning, the development of technology provides a wide spectrum of new opportunities for learners. What is more, technology might be especially useful for visually impaired students whose ability to learn at the same pace as their peers is (to different extent) influenced by an external condition.

Although we thought WCAG 2.0 was a relatively niche topic, it turned out that due to the new centralized requirements all major publishers in the world were looking for guidance on how to create materials adapted to the needs of visually impaired learners. We are willing to share our experience and ready-made solutions. Never in history has the access to knowledge been so egalitarian. – Artur Dyro, CEO at Learnetic

Interactive content and accessibility

It is estimated that about 30% of learners require various types of facilitated access to e-learning content. This includes visually impaired students for whom access to e-books used to be either extremely difficult or even impossible. Sometimes it’s simply not enough to offer impaired learners some extra time to complete their assignments, as it might be needed to develop completely new approach towards creating courseware that can potentially and greatly enhance the learning efficiency and effectiveness.

As an expert in innovative educational solutions we decided to initiate efforts towards making eContent even more accessible. We had already presented a wide spectrum of possibilities and tools to build educational user-friendly content, but we wanted to reach out to those learners who might find it difficult to make fullest use of traditional eLearning. We believed that it was essential to understand where the problem area lied to be able to guarantee the best approach and solution. Therefore, backed by a thorough research and years of experience in providing our partners with possibilities to build educational user-friendly content, we decided to create a complete tool for educational publishers that enables developing WCAG 2.0 compliant courseware. Our intention to facilitate elearning access resulted in mAuthor (our proprietary authoring tool) becoming a market-leading solution dedicated to make interactive publications, e-books and multimedia resources with the highest level of accessibility.

Overcoming technical challenges

The requirement for making interactive educational content widely accessible has become a real need today. However, keeping the content interactive, attractive and engaging for regular users while at the same time developing its accessibility to reach users with disabilities and impairments is a serious technical challenge. mAuthor offers numerous new features helping content developers to create truly accessible, yet highly interactive content. New mAuthor features allow meeting most of the WCAG guidelines, offering at the same time extended support with the tool’s own native assistive technologies. 

Using resources developed in accordance with the WCAG 2.0 requirements helps visually impaired learners master the material effectively. All mAuthor’s activity modules are equipped with additional functionalities designed to make them accessible for people with disabilities. mAuthor is one of the first authoring tools enabling creating eContent that:

  • features keyboard navigation
  • offers larger font and a built-in screen reader
  • informs about the correctness of the answer not only with color, but sound also
  • offers adding audio description to videos and/or images
  • adding alternative texts to illustrations/video and text fragments (used for describing mathematical/physical formulae, for instance).

To turn on (off) the keyboard navigation mode, a user has to use the keyboard shortcut Shift + Enter. Navigation between modules is done using Tab and Shift + Tab keys. To activate a selected module, press Enter, to deactivate it press Esc. The selected item is highlighted.

Success Criterion 1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded): Captions are provided for all pre-recorded audio content in synchronized media, except when the media is a media alternative for text and is clearly labeled as such. 

In order to show the possibilities of the new features there has been created an interactive lesson presenting new functionalities and explaining to the users how to employ them. Please click the link below to familiarize yourself with selected WCAG 2.0 requirements and our solutions towards modern technology driven education regarding the WCAG guidelines:

https://www.mauthor.com/present/5213695509266432

Upon the occasion of expanding the mAuthor functionality, Artur Dyro (CEO at Learnetic) stated:

mAuthor works as a typical graphics software. No programming skills are required. The created content offers a wealth of multimedia, interactive exercises, real-time feedback, but above all, due to being WCAG 2.0 compatible, this is a revolution for learners who experience problems in learning context, as it now offers a range of features increasing the courseware accessibility. This is a breakthrough in developing customized content, designed specially to help overcome challenges and make the progress in learning much easier.

Supporting special education needs has always been deeply rooted into our philosophy, so in the months and years to come we are planning on completing and supplementing the functions related to the creation of accessible content. The project was EU co-financed due to the project of implementing Adaptive Learning System and the implementation of the WCAG 2.0 requirements, under the following name:

Expansion of the mAuthor system with an innovative Adaptive Learning package and implementation of the WCAG 2.0 requirements for creating interactive content addressed to the physically impaired” in the amount of PLN 980 000.00. 

Visit https://www.learnetic.com/ if you are interested in learning more about our Development Platform and the benefits of the elearning technologies for publishers.

 

Learnetic Lands a Perfect Score for Education Software

Access to textbooks has historically been a huge roadblock in the path toward educational equality. Today, with the help of rapid advances in technology, many schools are taking advantage of digital textbooks to provide top-tier educational resources to their students at a fraction of their former cost.

That opportunity for students around the world is why we at Learnetic developed a proprietary textbook-digitizing software. Our solution makes it easier than ever for textbook providers like Kreativni to help schools to make the switch to digital education. And, according to satisfied customers like them, our work is helping.

They’ve turned to Clutch, a B2B services platform that hosts detailed, unbiased ratings and reviews to share their experience. In our first review, we ranked 5 out of 5 stars in every category.

Highlighting the way we prioritize cross-team communication, they explain their satisfaction with our “well-designed application, ”calling it “easy to manage and use.” – Technical Editor, Kreativni.

Our customers are the most important component of our success, and we are confident that delivering great experiences to them is the only thing we need to focus on to do well. That’s why we love hearing reviews like these!

We are excited about the opportunity to showcase our skills and services on Clutch, which provides a variety of information sources aimed at helping buyers find the best service provider for their business needs. The Manifest presents readers with blog-style directories of leaders in each industry, and Visual Objects offers a portfolio of projects involving elements of design. Each site brings in a lot of potential partners who could help grow your business!

Textbook digitization is just one of the ways we help support better learning in the digital age. To learn more about the services we offer and how we can help you build better educational experiences for K-12 education, contact us today!

 

TOP 5 THINGS TO DO @ BUCHMESSE 2019

 

 

Every October Frankfurt becomes the pulsating heart of the publishing world. The history of the event that is considered the most important book fair in the world dates back to the middle ages. For 5 days this fall the Frankfurter Buchmesse will open its doors for exhibitors, publishers, journalists, writers and culture enthusiasts from all around the world, bringing together industry representatives, book lovers, and all those who seek cultural exploration, business opportunities, and, last but not least, exceptional festivities. Here’s your complete list of essentials of the Buchmesse 2019. 

 

Whether you are a professional having interest in publishing novelties and digital innovations, or a visitor fond of literature, cosplays or food, Buchmesse is bound to offer something you will enjoy. And there is plenty to choose from, as the event is so much more than just books on shelves. Be sure to make an appearance if you are interested in any of the following:

 

1. BUSINESS

First and foremost, Frankfurter Buchmesse is the world’s most important marketplace for print and digital content. The organizers direct their efforts towards expanding participants’ business opportunities. The fair is a splendid place to meet publishing experts, writers and creative professionals who gather around to network, give speeches and share their innovative visions on the future of literature, learning methodology and courseware. Moreover, since the venue gathers world-recognized companies from the technology and creative industries, Buchmesse is a perfect occasion to meet up with business partners, especially for the publishers who seek pathbreaking solutions for courseware development and e-learning platforms. The trade fairs provide the attendees with the opportunity to make important contacts or gather ideas regarding the future of the publishing industry, LMS or developing courseware using an authoring tool. Educational publishing houses that intend to go digital and create interactive versions of their traditional courseware might be interested in attending the speech on Integration of print and digital publishing processes that is going to be delivered on the second day (Thursday, October 17th, 12:30) by Artur Dyro, the CEO of Learnetic. For more information, visit Learnetic Stand – C.28 hall 4.2. 

 

2. EDUCATION

Since books are an integral part of education, the Best European Learning Materials Awards ceremony is going to take place at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The Best European Learning Materials Awards (BELMA) competition is presented every year to high quality educational materials that have been produced in Europe. An international jury of experts awards the winners during the first day (Wednesday, October 16) of the fair. In 2019 the ceremony will be held at Forum Bildung, in Hall 4.2. A must-visit event for all those interested in finding quality learning courseware for all stages of education.

 

3. BOOKS

Apart from being an extraordinary business event, Buchmesse is a great social experience. Bibliomaniacs from around the world gather in one city to celebrate, expand their private collections of books and meet their favorite authors. Readers fascinated by the Scandinavian literature will be thrilled to know that one of Norway’s most successful crime writers Jo Nesbø will present his new Harry Hole novel “Knife” during the second day of the fairs. Apart from the meeting with the bestselling Norwegian author, Bookfest 2019 is scheduled to offer numerous readings, concerts, parties and performances, some of which will take place in popular locations throughout the whole city of Frankfurt.

 

4. FOOD

Last in order but not of importance, Buchmesse offers some festivities that might be considered unconventional for a book fair. One such example is the Gourmet Gallery. The popularity of the Gourmet Gallery mirrors the attention people draw towards nutrition and other aspects related to eating, such as ecology, sustainability and the zero waste idea. Events in the show kitchen and the Gourmet Salon seem perfect for those who love making new culinary discoveries.

 

5. ENTERTAINMENT

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2019 will also be a place where the finals of the German Cosplay Championship will be held. On October 20th, the winner will be rewarded with a trip to Japan – the motherland of cosplays.

 

The world’s most important industry trade fair starts on October 16th. Be there, explore, get inspired, and celebrate with people from the publishing industry and booklovers from all around the world.

Pearson goes primarily digital in the US college market

Pearson, a British-owned, world’s biggest educational company has decided to change its politics regarding learning resources, announcing gradually phasing out printed textbooks.

Pearson CEO John Fallon explains that since over 50% of its annual revenues come from digital sales, the company has decided to make Pearson’s learning resources ‘digital first’, as far as the United States college market is concerned. From now on, the British provider of courseware will release its 1,500 active U.S. titles in digital form first, abandoning the previous business model based on revising printed course books every three years. According to Fallon, this model has dominated the industry for over forty years, and thus can be considered past its use-by date. Among numerous other advantages, converting traditional learning resources into digital form enables regular updates of the content, which results in both teachers and students having access to the latest versions of the content, without purchasing new books, since the publishers are able to make changes to the digital versions at all times.
Fallon said: “We learn by engaging and sharing with others, and a digital environment enables you to do that in a much more effective way.”

The company’s decision is also expected to help the 175-year-old firm in its efforts to cut costs. According to Pearson, they will be able to forecast more precise revenue, since students will have less reason to buy second-hand books. As for now, it is estimated that college students in the U.S. already access more than 10 million e-books and courses in digital form from Pearson, since these are often cheaper than traditional resources.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pearson-textbooks/pearson-goes-digital-first-in-u-s-college-market-idUSKCN1UA2IU

 

It is our great honor to have a number of Pearson’s foreign divisions use mAuthor – Learnetic’s proprietary authoring tool – to convert existing materials into digital content, as well as create new textbooks, courseware and e-books.