National Center for Disability Education and Training and Center for Public Management, University of Oklahoma
Development and Distribution of an Accessible E-Learning Authoring System Software and Model Course for Vocational Rehabilitation Services Personnel
Designers and developers of courses and training materials
Study purpose or goal:
The intended use of the tool is to assisted web-based course developers, trainers and educators providing accessible e-learning options for individuals with disability which in turn could increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Who administers this tool?:
The Tool and components are intended to be used by a semi-technical user, wanting to develop training that should/must be accessible to users using assistive technology.
Users are required to have some basic knowledge of computers and web development, especially Adobe Flash.
A Computer capable of running Adobe Flash 8. the Adobe Flash Professional software, an Internet connection, and a web host.
Are any approvals required?:
How is it administered?:
The “tool” is a set of Flash UI components, intended to be embedded in a Flash .swf file. The components come with their own MPX installer, which can be utilized from the desktop. Once installed, the components are drag and drop, and each individual component contains it’s own “wizard” to assist in setting properties for the component.
What is the scope or what areas does it cover?:
Section 508, Flash programming, accessibility.
Research was conducted on basic web accessibility requirements using documents freely provided on the Internet from the US govt 508 resources, as well as the accessible content community and commercial software vendors (such as Adobe and Freedom Scientific). Additional techniques were suggested, tested and verified by the flash development community, as well as several external vendors.
The components were planned using a hybrid Product Requirements Document/System Design document. The design-to-requirements mapping had to remain fairly fluid as the abilities of the Flash development environment and Flash Player + MSAA integration were unknown, and are still being developed after the project completion. No special development processes were utilized, spare iterative design, where this version of the components can be considered the 1.1 version.
The Components were developed primarily by an external consultant, now an internal employee. The Beta and Final versions were certified as accessible by a third-party accessibility consulting firm.
Can this development process be used elsewhere?:
Techniques can be used in any software development setting where a Waterfall development cycle can be utilized.
Has sensitivity and specificity been tested?:
In addition to standard unit, alpha, beta, and user acceptance testing, the tools have been presented/demonstrated at several national conferences for assistive technology and disability related groups, as well as third-party verification that the compone
components meet or exceed Section 508 Accessibility Guidelines.
Can this tool be used for other purposes/populations?:
This tool with its components can enhance any online course directed at the general public and/or individuals with disabilities.
Sample course is available
The Tool/components are “1.0” versions.
While the components do work, and work well, they are fairly simple and prohibit complex interaction and development.
The visual appearance of the components are overly simple, and this appearance is not customizable. Interactions are limited to the existing components.
The development of this project was to produce a specific product per the requirements. “Data-point” findings are not possible, however; in general we learned that the documentation on accessibility in Flash was either partially or totally incorrect, and that existing methodologies to produce content were at odds with the methods required to create accessible content. The project did produce several techniques that should be used when creating accessible content in Adobe Flash. Many of these techniques are documented on the AccessibleTrainingBuilder.com website in the “Advanced Course” section.
The findings are not subject to interpretation, as the project was geared toward implementation.
Simply, accessible Flash content is possible despite the challenges, and that the field is in its infancy.
Trial and Error + Iterative development.
Impact of these findings on the field:
Research in this area is ongoing and continues to improve the accessibility of online training courses and websites.
Peer review status:
The tool was presented/demonstrated at several national conferences for assistive technology and disability related groups.
Who uses the collected data?:
Online trainers for government and corporate organizations.