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Call for papers: Accessible E-learning Online Symposium

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This is an incomplete draft.

When it is finalized, the Call for Papers will be announced via the WAI home page, WAI IG mailing list, W3C WAI tweet, and RSS feed listed in Getting WAI announcements.


The W3C WAI Research and Development Working Group (RDWG) invites you to contribute to the online symposium on Accessible E-learning.

  • Symposium date: 09 December 2013
  • Abstract submission date: 04 November 2013

Accepted papers will be published online in an attributable form as part of the symposium proceedings. Authors of accepted papers will be invited to participate in the symposium panel.


The research literature in the field of e-learning is both broad and comprehensive, though the intersection between e-learning and web accessibility is less well developed. This symposium seeks to combine the benefits of 14 years worth of accessibility research with nearly 30 years of e-learning research so as to inform e-learning accessibility for the coming decade.

This symposium will bring together researchers, practitioners, institutions, Learning Content Management System (LCMS) developers, and users with disabilities, to explore new and on-going e-learning experiences and research and analyze past experiences related to the design, creation, and usage of accessible e-learning. The goal is to discuss different approaches and applications of accessibility issues in e-learning contexts, and to explore next steps to promote the implementation of accessibility in e-learning environments, including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

This symposium invites research contributions within these broad areas, as the accessibility of e-learning systems and content is seen as an empowering opportunity for special needs users to advance their existing knowledge or qualifications or to take their first steps into higher learning that is not bound to bricks and mortar.

See the main Accessible e-learning Symposium page for more Background, User Group, and Objectives.

Important Dates

  • 04 November 2013: Deadline for paper submissions
  • 15 November 2013: Author notifications
  • 22 November 2013: Deadline for final HTML publication-ready paper submissions
  • 25 November 2013: Registration opens
  • 09 December 2013: Online symposium event


Systems: The main focus is on research and development of adaptive, customizable and personalized systems in order to allow, enable and facilitate e-learning for people with disabilities.

Users: The primary focus is on users with disabilities. However, other users may also be addressed, such as older users with age-related accessibility needs. Users with disabilities should be supported in different system roles, not only as learners, but also as admins, tutors, content authors, etc.

Standards: The focus is mainly on standards for e-learning accessibility, including those related to leaner profiles and content metadata.


We invite researchers, practitioners, users, developers and others to submit research and position papers that address the following issues and challenges:

  • Gaps and challenges in accessibility of e-learning systems
    • What are the accessibility issues related to user roles in e-learning systems (including accessibility of authoring tools and of admin features in e-learning environments)?
    • Experiences in learner profiling (including privacy issues).
    • Relationships and integration between content accessibility and interface accessibility.
    • Authoring tool features and constraints with the aim of supporting authors in creating accessible e-learning content.
    • Mechanisms to import-export content packages, taking into account accessible metadata and interface characteristics.
    • Evaluating accessibility of e-learning environments: mechanisms to evaluate accessibility of content packages and e-learning environment interfaces; mechanisms to evaluate the process of content creation and delivery within a specific e-learning environment.
    • Accessibility of e-learning assessments (including complexity of automated assessments, time limits, presentation of scores and answer feedback).
    • Accessibility of synchronous communication tools in e-learning environments.
    • Accessibility in m-learning (using mobile devices) and t-learning (using smart TVs) as well as e-learning environments by means of non-conventional devices.
  • Standardization issues
    • Where are the gaps in the accessibility standards at present?
    • What work needs to be done in learner profiling, in content accessibility metadata and in the Accessible Portable Item Protocol?
    • How do standards from other domains contribute to accessibility issues (i.e. device capabilities descriptive standards)?
    • Experiences and examples of standards implementations in e-learning environments.
    • Different standards, compliance and integration.
  • Massive Open Online Courses
    • Experiences and examples of accessible MOOCs?
    • What kind of issues should be taken into account in the design and management of accessible MOOCs?
    • Who is responsible for content auditing and approval for content coming from external contributors to the MOOCs?
    • What are the most common problems, if any, in adopting accessibility solutions for MOOCs?
    • Does the Peer to Peer learning model in MOOCs present extra challenges to participation for learners with disabilities?

Paper Submission

Paper submission closes on 04 November 2013.

Papers should be extended abstracts of about 1,000 words. We encourage concise contributions that are scientifically sound with appropriate references. Papers should clearly explain the:

  • Problem addressed
  • Relevant background
  • Approach - how was the problem addressed, what methodologies were used, what strategies were pursued to address the problem
  • Challenges - major obstacles or difficulties found during the process or that could be encountered in the way forward
  • Outcomes
  • Future research

Papers must be submitted in the template provided, be valid HTML, and meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA.

Review Process

Contributions will be reviewed by the Scientific Committee and each paper will get at least two/three independent reviews for criteria including relevance, clarity, soundness and power of the arguments and contribution to knowledge about accessible e-learning. Papers will be accepted based on this criteria and space availability.

Copyright Policy

Accepted papers will be published online in an attributable form as part of the symposium proceedings.
(For more information, see the FAQ sections RDWG Publications and RDWG Practice for Writership and Credits.)

The Symposium Report will be published under the W3C Document License. Paper authors shall grant W3C a perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free, world-wide right and license to copy, publish, use, and modify the contribution and to distribute the contribution under a Berkeley Shell Distribution - BSD License or one with more restrictive terms, as well as a right and license of the same scope to any derivative works prepared by the W3C and based on, or incorporating all or part of the contribution. The Contributor further agrees that any derivative works of this contribution prepared by the W3C shall be solely owned by the W3C.

Symposium Chairs

  • Justin Brown (Edith Cowan University, School of Computer and Security Science)
  • Silvia Mirri (University of Bologna, Department of Engineering and Computer Science)