Embracing Accessibility in Technology Towards Education for All

Wednesday, 08 November 2023 |
Embracing Accessibility in Technology Towards Education for All

Fezny Othman | Media Officer | SEAMEO SEN


In an era marked by the pursuit of knowledge and the aspiration for a sustainable and resilient society, one imperative stands out: the need for expanded access to educational content. The world's progress depends on the widespread availability of educational materials and resources. In this pursuit, the embrace of Open Educational Resources (OER) emerges as a powerful catalyst, offering the promise of swift and unfettered knowledge sharing. Through OER, we unlock the doors to a future where learning knows no boundaries, where knowledge is truly open to all.

Open Educational Resources
constitute a transformative paradigm in education, marked by an open license framework that upholds the intellectual constitute a transformative paradigm in education, marked by an open license framework that upholds the intellectual property rights of content creators while concurrently granting the public explicit permission to access, reuse, repurpose, adapt, and redistribute educational materials. This innovative approach not only respects copyright ownership but also democratises knowledge dissemination.

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, ensuring inclusive and accessible education is an imperative. This mission extends beyond overcoming conventional educational challenges to address modern complexities such as unequal connectivity, parental involvement, waning student motivation, and evolving assessment methodologies. Additionally, it encompasses a dedicated focus on the unique barriers faced by Learners with Disabilities (LWD), making accessibility a central concern when integrating technology into their learning experiences. In essence, OER stands as a cornerstone for advancing quality education and fostering equitable, inclusive access to knowledge, all while addressing the multifaceted challenges that confront comtemporary education.

UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER)

Amidst the rapid advancement of educational technologies towards a more promising future, a paramount principle takes center stage: 'leave no one behind'. This transformative commitment is deeply ingrained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and lies at the core of UNESCO's mission. In its 2019 session, the 40th UNESCO General Assembly issued a pivotal recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER), serving as an urgent call to member states. It impels them to take up the cause of inclusive and equitable quality education by wholeheartedly embracing 'OER' as an integral part of their mandates.

Inclusive Open Educational Resources (iOER): Empowering Accessibility and Equality

In recent times, Inclusive Open Educational Resources (iOER) have garnered substantial attention from various stakeholders. iOER expands upon the concept of Open Educational Resources (OER) to ensure universal usability and accessibility, catering to the diverse needs and abilities of all, including individuals with disabilities, regardless of their specific requirements.

Numerous comprehensive checklists and guidelines for enhancing OER accessibility have been developed to meet the needs of educators and practitioners, many of which are readily accessible online (Coolidge, et al., 2018; University of Washington, 2021). These guidelines typically cover various aspects, including content formatting, image descriptions, hyperlink usage, table structuring, multimedia integration, mathematical formulas, and font size considerations. When not adequately addressed, these elements can present challenges for individuals with sensory or learning disabilities, particularly those who rely on screen readers or assistive technologies. In this context, web developers often adhere to the widely recognised Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

iOER plays a pivotal role in facilitating inclusive and equitable access to high-quality educational content. Through the adoption of iOER, all learners, including those with disabilities, can gain enhanced and equal access to educational materials, furthering the overarching goal of fostering a more inclusive and sustainable society.

As the designated center tasked with advancing quality education in special education and inclusivity, the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Special Educational Needs (SEAMEO SEN) proudly embraces its role as the foremost reference center for iOER across its 11 SEAMEO Member Countries and beyond. For additional information on iOER, please visit http://www.seameosen.edu.my or contact ioer@seameosen.edu.my