Creating Barrier-Free, Broadband Learning Environments

Final Report

Overall Objectives

Please provide an overall rating of the degree to which the project met its objectives. Use a similar rating of 1 10, as above.

Rating _9_ Please provide an explanation of the rating provided.

The other concern that hampered meeting of the objectives was the lack of access to broadband by a number of consumer partners of the project. The roll out of ORIAN was delayed beyond the original timeline. This affected partners in central and northern Ontario. To overcome this concern local versions of the server were set up to allow implementation and evaluation.

Project Contribution to Sector/Social Objectives

While the contribution of the project to broad sector or social objectives is not identified in the Project Agreement, it was identified in the Project Proposal. Please describe the sector or social objectives which were identified in the Project Proposal.

One sector within Canada that can benefit most from broadband delivered education is learners with disabilities. Network delivered instruction is easily adapted to varying learning styles, rates, and communication formats. Issues of distance, transportation and physical access are reduced. Electronic text, unlike printed text, can be read by individuals who are blind, vision impaired, dyslexic and by individuals who cannot hold a book or turn pages. Broadband delivered multimedia can be delivered synchronously in multiple formats to accommodate individuals who require alternative modalities or who require more than one modality to learn.

Learners who are presently excluded from using network based educational environments due to access barriers include individuals of all ages:

Potential learners with disabilities make up more than 15% of the Canadian population. This will increase in the next decade with the effects of an aging population.

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The benefits of this project will effect more than the specified target group. It is a well-known phenomenon that enhancements made to help learners with disabilities will make the environment more effective for all learners. Adding tactile manipulation and tactile sense to a learning environment will assist in teaching skills that require manual dexterity as well as in communicating spatial concepts to learners who are blind. Including voice recognition and gesture recognition as means of controlling interactive learning environments will make the interface more efficient and intuitive for many learners while making it possible for learners with physical disabilities to participate. Captioning and descriptive video have demonstrated advantages for indexing and searching learning materials.

Access to education by Canadian citizens who are frequently marginalized will improve employability, as well as physical, mental and emotional health and well-being, all of which bear immeasurable social and financial benefits. Inclusive education delivery will help Canada overcome geographic barriers that frequently place Canadian residents with disabilities in double jeopardy.

Given a growing awareness and respect for the human rights of people with disabilities worldwide and legislative steps taken to insure access, there is a large market worldwide for barrier free education tools. The United States is inevitably one of the largest consumers of on-line learning products developed in Canada. Both at a state level and at a federal level the US has passed stringent legislation governing the accessibility of learning tools and educational content to people with disabilities. At a federal level this legislation includes the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of telecommunications legislation (many of Canada's other important trade partners such as Australia and the EU are passing similar legislation). At a state level, the largest states such as Texas and California have legislation and regulations specifically governing the accessibility of learning content and delivery mechanisms. In order to tap the US market, Canada's learning products must be accessible. Learning tools that make on-line education more accessible to people with disabilities will have an immediate market, in US educational institutions and in industries involved in on-line delivery of learning products who must respond to legislation governing access.

The project clearly addresses CANARIE's broad strategic objectives and the objectives of the Learning Program. The technologies to be developed in this project are essential to the successful implementation of broadband networks for a large sector of the Canadian population. Open-systems standards are as critical to accessibility as they are to inter-operability. The outcomes of this project will make Canada a leader in the delivery of inclusive, barrier-free education and training. The proposed technologies leverage the power of broadband technologies in innovative ways to benefit all Canadian learners.

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Information Dissemination/Technology Transfer

Conferences/Workshops

The Barrierfree project was presented at a large number of local, national and international forums. These included two Canarie sponsored workshops on e-learning. Both peer reviewed papers and invited papers were presented at international conferences in North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim. As a primary goal of this project was to influence the developers of emerging e-learning technology, repeated presentations were given to international interoperability decision bodies including IMS and W3C. Presentations were made at meetings of e-learning specification bodies such as CETIS, the Open Knowledge Initiative, OKI, and the Educational Modeling Language Intitiative (EML). Over the course of the project, presentations were made to well over 2,000 individuals, from across the globe and representing all sectors.

Conference/ Workshop/Seminar Category Registration Fee
(y/n)
Number attending Audience

Partner workshop, July 2000

PS

n

16

Project partners and users

Educause 2000

NC, OT

Int. conf.

y

> 8,000 at conference

~ 120 in workshop

All sectors interested in e-learning

1st Annual National

E-Learning Workshop

CS

y

~ 100

All sectors interested in e-learning in Canada

Technology and People with Disabilities Conference, 2001

NC, OT

Int. conf.

y

>3000 at conference

~75 in workshops

All sectors interested in assistive technology internationally

IMS Global Learning Consortium, Washington , 2001

NC, OT

Int. meeting

N

~100

IMS members

CHI, State of the Science Workshop, Seattle, 2001

NC, OT

Int. conf.

Y

~ 175

Invited experts and sector representatives

W3C Technical Plenary, Amsterdam, 2001

NC, OT

Int. meeting

N

~ 150

W3C members

European Elearning Summit, Brussels, 2001

NC, OT

Int. meeting

Y

~ 100

EU e-learning representives

IMS/OKI joint conference, Boston, 2001

NC, OT

Int. meeting

N

~150

IMS and OKI members

IEEE, Arizona, 2001

NC, OT

Int. conf.

Y

~250

Technology sector

Educause 2001

NC, OT

Int. conf.

Y

> 8,000 at conference

~ 120 in workshop

E-learning sector globally

Closing the Gap 2001

NC, OT

Int. conf.

Y

~ 80 in workshop

Teachers and educational support staff, consumers

IMS San Francisco, 2001

 

N

~100

IMS members

LEAP Conference, San Diego, 2001

NC, OT

Int. conf.

Y

~ 300

Consumers and LEAP

partners

CSUN, 2002, Los Angeles

NC, OT

Int. conf.

Y

>3000 at conference

~75 in workshops

All sectors interested in assistive technology internationally

Canarie’s Second National E-Learning Workshop, Montreal

CS

Y

~ 200

Canadian e-learning sector

Eduspecs Technical Coordination meeting, Vancouver, 2002

NC, OT

Nat. meeting

N

20

Eduspecs consultants
W3C and IMS combined technical plenary, France, 2002

NC, OT

Int. meeting

N

~200

W3C and IMS members

WWW11 Annual conference, 2002

NC, OT

Int. conf.

Y

~ 300

Web developers

Slice of Life conference, Toronto, 2002

NC, OT

Int. conf.

Y

~ 200

Educators in the applied sciences and medicine

AUPHA annual conference, Washington, 2002

NC, OT

Int. conf.

Y

~ 300

Educators in health administration

ICCHP, Austria, 2002

NC, OT

Int. conf.

Y

~ 500

Policy, administration and developers in accessibility

W3C Courseware meetings, Vancouver, 2002

NC, OT

Int. meeting

N

25

W3C members concerned with e-learning

IMS/EML Meetings, Sheffield England, 2002

NC, OT

Int. meeting

N

~100

IMS and EML members

 

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