1 National Polytechnic School (ECUADOR)
2 University of Alicante (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN14 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 111-120
ISBN: 978-84-617-0557-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The increasing availability of Open Educational Resources (OER) has become a valuable alternative to democratize access to training and education opportunities in all educational levels. This fact has been recognized by Unesco in the "2012 World Open Educational Resources (OER) Conference", which promotes the use of OER to expand social inclusion.

The educational resources are digital pieces usually conceptualized as Learning Objects (LOs). LOs are prepared for use in environments of teaching - learning, they can be designed in a variety of formats, and they have distinct scope and complexity.

LOs are collected in a Learning Object Repository (LOR), which is a kind of a digital library or database, accessible through a website. The LOR stores both LOs and their metadata. The metadata aims to describe LOs in a uniform and stable way, through some significant descriptors.
The success of searching and retrieving of LOs depends on the metadata schemata used to characterize their content.

To take advantage of the large amount of LOs available through the Web, it is fundamental that a website provides to the users a mechanism for their searching and retrieval. The search facility in the website must be broad enough to incorporate user requirements like: discipline or subject, educational level, format, pedagogic issues, and some others. For efficient retrieval of LOs it is necessary that the learners’ preferences can match the descriptors in metadata tag.

In the context of this research the discoverability of LOs based on the users' requirements, is associated to the search facility in the website that explores the metadata in use and selects the LOs to meet his specific need. However, if this scenario is analysed from the perspective of users with disabilities, there are additional considerations that not necessarily have been incorporated by the metadata standards used in LOR linked through well-known OER websites.

According to World Health Organization more than a billion people in the world today experience some disability. There is a global awareness about the rights of persons with disabilities, and access to educational opportunities is one of them. This research concerns to web based learning and consequently in such context, web accessibility is an important issue for users with disabilities.

One of the aims of this study is to verify the accessibility of the website that provides support to the LOR; that is, evaluate how the user with a limitation of hearing, movement, sight or cognitive ability, can reach without restrictions to the search facility to carry out the exploring and acquisition of the LOs that he is looking for.

Furthermore, this study performs a review of the most important metadata standards associated to LOR that are behind the most widely known OER websites, to verify if these metadata standards take into account descriptors that cover special needs of learners with disabilities. This study also reviews some metadata standards that truly consider accessibility issues. Finally, based on the results, we can evaluate the current situation in the use of metadata in LOR from the perspective of disabled users’ requirements.
Learning Object (LO), Learning Object Repository (LOR), accessibility, web, disabled, handicapped.