ILSIG 2014: Accessibility, Inclusivity and MOOCs: What Can BS 8878 Offer?

Title: Brian Kelly gave a talk on “Accessibility, Inclusivity and MOOCs: What Can BS 8878 Offer?” at an ILSIG online webinar on “How Open is You MOOC?“.

Speaker: Brian Kelly

Date and time: 12.30-13.30 on 27th March 2014.

Venue: Online

Target audience: Members of the ALT/TechDis Inclusive Learning Special Interest Group (ILSIG) – see the ILSIG Jiscmail list and web site.


It used to be felt that universal access to Web resources could be  achieved by ensuring that Web resources conform with a simple set of guidelines, known as WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). However it is now increasingly being appreciated that such expectations were over-simplistic. As described in a paper on A Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics and Guidelines: Putting People and Processes First “web accessibility is not an intrinsic characteristic of a digital resource but is determined by complex political, social and other contextual factors, as well as technical aspects which are the focus of WAI standardisation activities“.

The challenges of enhancing accessibility is particularly challenging when we consider access to learning activities for  people with disabilities.  In 2004 in a paper on “Developing A Holistic Approach For E-Learning Accessibility” Kelly et al argued that the focus should be on the accessibility of the learner’s needs rather than the accessibility of the digital resources which may held to address those needs. The phrase “blended accessibility for blended buying viagra learning” was subsequently coined to show how real world solutions or non-Web IT solutions may be a legitimate way of addressing the technical difficulties and resourcing issues facing in ensuring web resources conformed with WCAG guidelines.

A paper on “Accessibility 2.0: People, Policies and Processes” published in 2007  suggested that instead of the focus on the digital resource, there was a need to emphasise the needs of the user and to provide the appropriate policies and processes which can help ensure that such needs can be addressed, subject to real-world constraints such as the limitations of standards and technologies, lack of support for accessibility standards and guidelines in the market place and the costs of implementing best practices.

The BS 8878 Web Accessibility Code of Practice is a British Standard which provides a framework in which appropriate policies can be determined for use in the development and deployment of Web products.

In this brief talk Brian Kelly will review the need to go beyond a WCAG approach to web accessibility and explore ways in which BS 8878 can be used in an environment in which MOOCs can help to maximise learning opportunities.


The slides are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

In addition a backup copy is available on Authorstream.