Module 2: People and Digital Technology

Introduction

Courses based on this module:

Learning Outcomes for Module

Students should be able to:

Competencies

Skills required for this module.

Students:

Instructors:

Topics to Teach

Optional topics to achieve the learning outcomes.

Topic: Diverse Abilities, Tools, and Strategies

Introduce the wide range of people with disabilities, including auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual disabilities. Explain the variety of abilities, assistive technologies and adaptive strategies, even among people with the same type of disability. Introduce some assistive technologies and adaptive strategies. Examples are provided in How People with Disabilities Use the Web.

Learning Outcomes for Topic

Students should be able to:

  • List types of disabilities and related accessibility needs.
  • Define the terms “assistive technology” and “adaptive strategies”.
  • List some examples of assistive technologies and adaptive strategies.
  • Describe some accessibility design features and barriers.

Teaching Ideas for Topic

Optional ideas to teach the learning outcomes:

  • Ask students to engage with people with disabilities, such as relatives, friends, or colleagues. Ask students to gather information on the assistive technologies and/or adaptive strategies used to interact with digital technology. Help students classify the tools they learn about.
  • Guide students to focus on the abilities of people with disabilities and on how technology is part of their everyday life. Coach students towards thinking about people first and promote an inclusive approach. For further information, refer to Interacting with People with Disabilities.
  • Present some assistive technologies and adaptive strategies, such as captions, text customization (e.g., font size, color, or spacing), specialized keyboards, audio descriptions, screen readers, and screen magnifiers. Mention things like glasses as a type of assistive technology.
  • Demonstrate the use of assistive technology by experienced users. Note that some tools are not easy for novices. Ask users to show examples of accessible content first, then inaccessible content.
  • Encourage students to try some adaptive strategies following expert advice by exploring different settings in web browsers and operating systems.
  • Discuss with students various accessibility design features of common sites or devices, as well as access barriers that people experience with digital content.

Important: Avoid showing disabilities as being limiting, uncomfortable, or heroic. For information on avoiding clichés and myths, see Interacting with People with Disabilities .

Ideas to Assess Knowledge for Topic

Optional ideas to support assessment:

  • Report — Students write a report describing some of the design features that one of the assistive technologies they learned about relies on to function. Assess students’ capacity to identify how people with disabilities rely on specific features to use the Web.
  • Practice — Students go to three different types of websites (e.g., shopping site, banking site, or entertainment site) and identify accessibility features from those they learned about. Assess students’ capacity to recognize accessibility features.
  • Interview — Students contact a person with a disability and interview them. Explore what accessibility features and barriers they encounter when trying to access digital content or applications, as well as how up-to-date they are with technology. Assess students’ capacity to identify such features and barriers and link them to the knowledge they acquired.

Topic: Components of Web Accessibility

Explain that web accessibility depends on several components working together: content, browsers, authoring tools, web designers and developers, and more. Briefly note that there are W3C Standards for the different components. (The standards are explored in detail in Module 4.) For an explanation of the components and how they link together, see Essential Components of Web Accessibility.

Learning Outcomes for Topic

Students should be able to:

  • Describe the components that contribute to accessibility.
  • Explain some of the links between the components.
  • Describe the impact that some Web technologies have on digital accessibility.
  • Identify W3C standards that address the components.

Teaching Ideas for Topic

Optional ideas to teach the learning outcomes:

  • Based on the previously taught topics, reflect with students on the links between assistive technologies, adaptive strategies, and digital content. Guide them through how one relies on the other and how using different combinations of tools may yield different user experiences.
  • Explore with students some of the accessibility features built into Web technologies. For example, HTML headings and lists. Ask students to reflect on how these relate to prior observations they made.
  • Reflect with students on the roles of browsers and media players; for example, explain that a media player needs to support captions or audio descriptions. Encourage them to explore accessibility support in different tools.
  • Reflect with students on the role of authoring tools, such as Content Management Systems (CMS). For example, does their preferred social media platform include options to provide text alternatives for images?
  • Introduce potential options to improve accessibility in different situations. Guide students to reflect on the implications of using a more accessible browser, exploring accessibility platforms and APIs, and requiring accessibility during procurement.

Ideas to Assess Knowledge for Topic

Optional ideas to support assessment:

  • Reflective Journal — Students reflect on specific types of accessibility features and barriers, and how they relate to the different components of web accessibility. Assess students’ capacity to recognize how components work together to improve accessibility.
  • Guided Quiz — Students identify three websites where one accessibility feature in Web technology is being used. For example, Where are ordered and unordered lists used effectively? Where is heading structure in place? Assess students’ capacity to identify instances of content that promote accessibility features.
  • Presentation — Students use a variety of websites with three different browsers and assistive technologies. Students explain any differences between accessing the content with the different browsers and assistive technologies. Students share with others which browser they think works best and why. Assess students’ capacity to identify the way user agents and assistive technologies render content has an impact on accessibility.

Ideas to Assess Knowledge for Module

Optional ideas to support assessment:

Teaching Resources

Suggested resources to support your teaching:

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