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Introduction

In preparation for the requirement that obligates organizations in Ontario to follow W3C WCAG 2.0 guidelines to ensure their Web content is accessible, the first phase of the project will develop a Web-based course aimed at Web content developers to assist them in developing accessible Web content. The course will be distributed in a standardized format, under a public license allowing free modification and redistribution.

Rationale and benefits

The aim of this project is to develop instruction that teaches Web content authors about Web Accessibility

The proposed Web based course is timely and useful to Web developers and obligated organizations within Ontario wishing to comply with legislation around the world (as well as the AODA) and wishing to ensure that their Web content is accessible to everyone. The proposed course will be available when WCAG 2.0 becomes a W3C recommendation, preparing Web developers to effectively respond to the new guidelines

Released under a Creative Commons license, these training materials can be modified, customized to a particular context or use, or translated and redistributed without cost to users. As standardized interoperable content, the course material can be used in many compliant learning environments or learning management systems used by educational institutions, or simply downloaded and opened locally in a Web browser where learners can learn on their own.

Released under a Creative Commons license, these training materials can be modified, customized to a particular context or use, or translated and redistributed without cost to users. As standardized interoperable content, the course material can be used in many compliant learning environments or learning management systems used by educational institutions, or simply downloaded and opened locally in a Web browser where learners can learn on their own.

Project Goals

The overall goals are to educate organizations and specifically Web developers within organizations in the inclusive design of Web sites, to make the creation of accessible Web sites a part of standard Web development practice, to embed accessibility sensibilities into the standard workflow. The goal is:

  1. to provide a moderated online learning environment where Ontario employees can improve their understanding of the new guidelines, of accessibility issues, and of inclusive content development strategies.

Partners

  1. Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (ATRC) (Lead) is an accessibility research and development centre at the University of Toronto. The ATRC is involved in information and communication technology standards development globally, making sure that accessibility is integrated into ICT interoperability standards. The ATRC is also involved in a variety of technology development activities, developing accessible information technology and producing exemplars intended to model inclusive design practices.
  2. Cantor Access Inc. is a provider of training on accessibility, assistive technologies, and employment accommodations, and provides accessibility consultation for facilities, products, software, and Web sites.
  3. Vubiz Inc. is an e-learning service provider, offering interactive learning content development services, as well as LMS consulting and hosting.

Target Audiences

  1. Web Content Developers
  2. Web Application Developers
  3. Managers
  4. Web Content Procurement Staff

Project Deliverables

  1. a Web-based course released and distributed under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share-Alike licence (NC-SA), that provides training on implementation of, and conformance with the W3C WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards. The NC-SA licence restricts use of the course as a commercial product by anyone other than the copyright holders, preventing others from selling the content and benefiting financially from the efforts of others. The license does allow others to make modifications, or enhance the course, and once again redistribute it under the same license. Full details of the license can be found at the following location.
    Creative Commons NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
  2. a moderated course offered on four occasions over a period of one year, where Ontario employees can participate in an interactive online environment, experience accessibility issues through hands-on activities, and test their knowledge of the information they are learning.

Methodology

A steering committee will be formed to oversee the development of products to come out of this project. The committee will be made up of a senior ATRC Staff member, and a Ministry Representative. A representative from Cantor Access.Inc will act in an advisory role in the development of instructional materials, and in the review of reports generated by the AChecker tool. Throughout the course of the project representative stakeholders from organizations that will be using the deliverables and consumers requiring WCAG compliant Web sites will be called upon to provide input on design and development issues. The WCAG 2.0 course and AChecker development are expected to occur in parallel.

Steering Committee:

  1. ATRC Senior Staff
  2. Ministry Representative

Advisory Committee:

  1. Cantor Access Inc.
  2. Representative consumer and services provider stakeholders

WCAG 2.0 Web-based Course

The first task in achieving the goals of this sub-project is to collect WCAG 2.0 related instructional materials, expand on those materials where necessary, develop hands-on activities to help learners better understand concepts and principles of accessibility, and bring these instructional materials together as freely distributed course modules in standardized, interoperable formats.

The second task will be to implement the instructional materials in a Web-based course that will run on four occasions during the year following the release of WCAG 2.0, and make this course freely available to organizations in Ontario.

The development of the WCAG 2.0 Web-based course is expected to take 20 weeks to complete.

The development process will be as follows:

1. Planning

The steering committee will meet prior to beginning work to review the proposed project plan, and recommend adjustments to the plan where necessary.

ATRC and Cantor Access staff will inventory materials available internally within the two organizations, identify additional external resources, and develop a format for presenting learning units.

After identifying available content, the advisory committee will recommend additional content that should be created for the course.

Each unit will take on a structure roughly as follows:

  1. The Principle
  2. The Guidelines
  3. The Reasons
  4. Experiencing Barriers
  5. Methods to Remove Barriers
  6. Other Considerations
  7. Resources & Information

2: Content Development

Based on the recommendations made by the advisory committee, ATRC and Cantor Access will assemble existing content, and create additional content for each learning unit. Content will focus on addressing the most common barriers, as well those that are most likely to have a significant impact on users' ability to access Web content.

ATRC will produce content aimed at informing Web content developers about technical aspects of accessible Web content, outline each WCAG guideline, describe inclusive development practices, and provide example markup that authors can copy to assist in implementing their own accessible Web content.

Cantor Access will produce content aimed at informing Web content developers about reasoning behind developing accessible Web content, as well as problems experienced by people with disabilities when they encounter inaccessible content, providing non-technical descriptions of accessibility issues, and providing examples of how accessibility issues affect users of assistive technologies.

3: Simulation Development

Vubiz Inc. will create interactive learning modules based on the assembled content.

Four simulations will be created to illustrate key WCAG 2.0 principles. The propose of the simulations is to help learners experience issues associated with the principle as they might be experienced by persons with disabilities.

Simulation 1: Is Content Perceivable?

This simulation will reproduce the experience of a user who can not perceived certain content, such as a user who is blind encountering an image without a text alternative, or a user with colourblindness asked to complete a task that requires the ability to distinguish colours, as well as other experiences where sensory characteristics of the content are removed.

Simulation 2: Is Content Operable?

This simulation will reproduce the experience of a user who can not operate a mouse, for example a blind user, and ask learners to complete a task using only keyboard input, within a specified time period, and with poorly defined interface features (such as non-meaningful link or button text), or data tables without proper column or row headings.

Simulation 3: Is Content Understandable?

This simulation will reproduce the experience when Web users encounter content whose meaning is not well defined, content that changes dynamically, and input controls that are not labelled in a meaningfully way.

Simulation 4: Is Content Robust?

This simulation will reproduce the experience when Web users encounter content that is technology specific, or has been created in such a way that certain technologies are unable to understand the content due to non-standard or sloppy markup practises.

4. Implementation

The ATRC will setup an installation of the ATutor Learning Management System that will be accessible to Ontario employees, assemble content in distributable interoperable content packages, develop self-assessments for each unit, implement the lesson format designed in Phase 1, and setup distribution for the training units.

5. Evaluation

The advisory committee, including people with disabilities, will assess the online course and review the content to ensure that it is fully accessible and usable by people with disabilities, and that it sufficiently covers topics relevant to specific disability groups.

The steering committee will meet to discuss the outcomes of the review and recommend changes to the course where necessary.

The ATRC will make adjustments to the course based on recommendations made by the steering committee.

6. Online Course

TBD 1 Year following the release of WCAG 2

With the release of WCAG 2.0, the training materials will be made available to Ontario employees as a self-guided online course. Employees will be able to access the content, activities, discussions, and assessments online at anytime, from anywhere. At four times during the year following the WCAG 2.0 release, employees can take the course with an expert moderator. During each of the four sessions, each of the four modules will be offered one per week over the duration of four weeks.

Communication, Promotion, Marketing

The intent is to distribute the learning content and the tools developed in this project to a global audience. The ATutor community Web site will provide the main distribution point, where downloads will be tracked to provide distribution statistics for a period of one year following the completion of this project. The ATutor site receives many visitors specifically interested in accessibility issues, and ranks high in search engine results for various topics associated with accessibility. Meta data for the AChecker and course distribution areas of the site will be refined to increase search rankings for topics related to accessibility.

Links to the primary downloads will be added to other ATRC Web sites, to Cantor Access, and Vubiz Web sites, and be posted to accessibility-related public forums, blogs, and wikis

Sustainability

The content developed in this project will be released under the Creative Common NC-SA license, thus it will continue to exist in the public domain indefinitely.

AChecker will be released under the Open Source GNU GPL license, thus will also exist in the public domain indefinitely. The ATRC is committed to maintain and update the tool through a number of future projects as the tool is a relevant means of achieving the ATRC mission. In the unlikely event that the ATRC discontinues maintenance, the tool will be available to any other group at no cost to continue its development.

Project Evaluation

The sub-projects will each take 20 weeks to complete, and at the end of that period, the products of each sub-project will be freely available for download.

Download statistics will be monitored to track changes in distribution of the training materials and the accessibility checker over the first year of the project.

Responsibilities

The ATRC will administer, coordinate, implement and deliver all components of the project in consultation with the Ministry. For the AChecker redesign sub-project, the ATRC will provide technical expertise focused on re-engineering the AChecker tool, extending current information provided with additional instructional materials, and setting up and managing an open source community through which AChecker can be distributed and maintained. For the WCAG 2.0 course, the ATRC will provide content area expertise focused on technical aspects of accessibility, and provide content development, Learning Management System (LMS) hosting, promotion and distribution, and management.

Cantor Access will provide an objective review of the reports generated by AChecker using content area experts and people with disabilities to ensure accessibility checks are accurate and provide thorough coverage of common accessibility issues. For the WCAG 2.0 course Cantor Access Inc. will also provide non-technical, user experience based content for each of the learning units, and conduct usability and accessibility testing with people with a range of disabilities, and advise on the content and its implementation as an online course.

Vubiz will be responsible for developing interactive simulations for each unit in the WCAG 2.0 course, based on the content provided by ATRC and Cantor Access Inc. Each simulation will aim at helping learners experience Web content from the perspective of persons with disabilities.

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