Session 6. Accessibility and Inclusive Design

Good morning @feb21-cohort! Today, we’ll meet and talk about accessibility and inclusive design. We think it’s important to cover this topic before you all dive headfirst into creating, editing, and reviewing your content. I’ll provide an overview of some common terms used when talking about accessibility in OER. We’ll also breakdown how accessibility integrates into the production process and share tips that you can keep in mind.

You can take a look at the:

  1. Handout: Accessibility and Inclusive Design
  2. Slides: Accessibility and Inclusive Design

Thanks for attending this week’s session, everyone! I hope the conversation on accessibility and inclusive design was helpful as you get started with the heavy-lifting work of creating content for your resources.

As always, I’ve saved our chat transcript and have highlighted the links shared:

Session Recap

This session, we explained terms like accessibility, inclusive design, remediation, and discussed how this all relates to open publishing and your OER creation project. Accessibility is often thought about as just being for students with disabilities, but as we see it, accessibility benefits all readers, even if implemented measures are designed for those at the margins or in smaller groups. It’s about ensuring that what you are making, whether it’s a website, drawing, video, etc. can be used and understood by all people, regardless of location, language, context, tools, disability, or more. It’s about reframing disability as a mismatch between an individuals’ requirements and a particular resource, product, or service. It’s about making sure everyone can have a part to play in making these resources. We can think of web accessibility, content accessibility, and even how this can extend into pedagogy.

Inclusive design is about flexible solutions that provide people the space to create their own paths and meet their needs. The three core dimensions of inclusive design are:

  1. Recognize diversity and uniqueness - Understand that a one-solution-fits-all approach will not work, rather, there is more value to a flexible solution that users can adapt.
  2. Inclusive process and tools - Teams should include individuals who have a lived experience of the users the designs are intended for. Equitable creation is one where you promote just and fair inclusion throughout society and create the conditions in which everyone can participate, prosper, and reach his or her full potential. Maha Bali said it best!
  3. Broader beneficial impact - Designing not only to ensure that certain needs are met, but in a way that that design can benefit a larger group. This is what’s often called the ‘curb-cut effect.’

Take a look at the Inclusive Design Research Center (IDRC) for more resources, tools, and principles.

Remember that both accessibility and inclusive design is inextricably tied to equity — as we reframe what disability means and how accessibility/inclusive design approaches can meet these requirements (IDRC).

Access is one of the fundamental principles of the open movement broadly. Given OERs’ digital-first nature, this is all the more relevant as resources should not only conform to web accessibility standards, but they should also be available for reading in offline and print formats. The Rebus approach to open publishing in particular is about opening up the opportunities for both creation and use to all people around the world, and being transparent about how it works so that anyone can replicate it. Working with a collaboratively developed process like ours ensures that community interests remain at the forefront, and that resources produced are ‘ready to use’ straight out of the box with little to no remediation required.

Remediation is the work done to a text to make it accessible to a particular student or set of students. This work is often expensive, and in the case with All Rights Reserved materials, may need to be repeated from institution to institution. As part of our open publishing processes, we can minimize the amount of work needed to remediate a book for students by ensuring our books are accessible from the moment of publication. This doesn’t need to be a lot of work — in fact, much of it is already baked into the stages we’ve discussed so far! Build this work in at each stage, rather than trying to retrofit it in the end. This intentional approach will lead not only to a more improved and impactful resource, but will change the way you use these materials with students.