About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4284-4293
Publication year: 2014
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain

IS INTERNET AN ACCESSIBLE LEARNING RESOURCE FOR SIGHT-IMPAIRED STUDENTS?

I. Caponetto

CNR - National Research Council (ITALY)
The importance of Internet use in education is widely recognized. The educational potential of the Web is enormous and we see that nowadays it plays an important role in both informal and formal education. Advanced net-technologies can well improve the quality of learning by facilitating access to educational resources and services and also by providing new and enlarged opportunities for interpersonal communication thus allowing for meaningful, content-rich and educationally effective exchanges.

What makes the Web an increasingly effective and essential learning resource is mainly the possibility it offers to access extensive information; nevertheless, more importantly it also offers the ground for communicating with other actors in the learning process and, as a consequence, it allows and supports the sharing of ideas, information and, more generally, of knowledge. In particular, the adoption of collaborative learning strategies is fostered by net-based tools such as e-learning platforms, wikis blogs etc…, and these features provide students with significant added value from the cognitive as well as from the motivational and relational point of view.

Online learning environments offer to students interesting, flexible and highly customizable learning solutions and are characterized by a high degree of usability and ease to use. Despite this, if we take into account students with disabilities, we see that a number of accessibility issues often arise that make web use highly problematic for them with the upshot that the differences are exacerbated rather than smoothed out.

In this paper we take the viewpoint of sight-impaired students and try to answer the research question whether can Internet be considered an accessible learning resource for them and/or to what extent. We explore the specific difficulties that pupils with visual impairment encounter when surfing the net and in tackling this issue we separately consider and evaluate the difficulties encountered from the one hand by blind and from the other by low vision students.

The reported specific considerations are drawn both from field experiences conducted and from the thorough examination of examples of learning resources compliant with existing laws and accessibility guidelines.
In fact, if it is true that well established criteria for accessibility exist for web sites and that the specific requirements drawn up in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) should be rigorously followed, only the direct observation of sight-impaired students at work could shed light both on their actual needs and on the difficulties they encounter.

In particular in the paper we will refer to the four basic principles found in the W3C Guidelines, namely to the characteristic of web- based environments of being:
- perceivable, with reference to the availability to the senses, either through the browser or through assistive technologies;
- operable, with reference to the full possibility of interaction through controls and interactive elements (mouse, keyboard, assistive devices…);
- understandable thanks to the presence of clear content, not ambiguous and confusing;
- flexibile i.e. providing possibility to access the content through a wide range of technologies, be they innovative or traditional.

In the light of the accessibility principles mentioned above the specific requirements for low vision and blind students will be examined and possible solutions will be envisaged and discussed.
@InProceedings{CAPONETTO2014ISI,
author = {Caponetto, I.},
title = {IS INTERNET AN ACCESSIBLE LEARNING RESOURCE FOR SIGHT-IMPAIRED STUDENTS?},
series = {8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2014 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-8412-0},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {10-12 March, 2014},
year = {2014},
pages = {4284-4293}}
TY - CONF
AU - I. Caponetto
TI - IS INTERNET AN ACCESSIBLE LEARNING RESOURCE FOR SIGHT-IMPAIRED STUDENTS?
SN - 978-84-616-8412-0/2340-1079
PY - 2014
Y1 - 10-12 March, 2014
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2014 Proceedings
SP - 4284
EP - 4293
ER -
I. Caponetto (2014) IS INTERNET AN ACCESSIBLE LEARNING RESOURCE FOR SIGHT-IMPAIRED STUDENTS?, INTED2014 Proceedings, pp. 4284-4293.
User:
Pass: