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Article
Publication date: 31 October 2018

Julius T. Nganji

This paper aims to suggest how the information journey of students with disabilities could be facilitated, by first revealing the existence of inaccessible formats such as…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to suggest how the information journey of students with disabilities could be facilitated, by first revealing the existence of inaccessible formats such as Portable Document Format (PDF) and then suggesting the inclusion of alternative formats of accessible learning materials, thus improving retrieval.

Design/methodology/approach

A sample of 400 articles published over 10 years (2009-2018) from four journals are selected and analysed for accessibility against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 by using automated accessibility checkers, a screen reader and manual human expertise. The results are presented and recommendations made on improving accessibility.

Findings

The findings suggest that the PDF versions of the selected journal articles are not accessible for screen reader users but could be improved by adopting accessible and inclusive practices. Including alternative formats of the learning materials could help support the student information journey.

Research limitations/implications

The results of the study might not be very representative of all the articles in the journals given the small sample size. Additionally, the criteria used in the study do not consider all existing disabilities. Thus, although the PDFs may be inaccessible for some people with disabilities, they may be accessible to others.

Practical implications

Given that PDFs seem to be the preferred format of journal articles online, there is potential for a difficult information journey for some students due to the limitations posed by inaccessibility of the PDFs. Thus, it is recommended to include alternative formats which could be more accessible, giving the student the choice of accessing the learning materials in their preferred format.

Social implications

If students are unable to access the learning materials that are required for their course, this could lead to poor grade, which might negatively affect the students’ morale. In some cases, some students might drop out.

Originality/value

This study analyses the accessibility of learning materials provided by a third party (journal publishers) and how they affect the student, something that is not usually given much importance when research in accessibility is carried out.

Details

Information and Learning Science, vol. 119 no. 12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-5348

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 August 2017

Julius T. Nganji and Mike Brayshaw

The purpose of this paper is to address how virtual learning environments (VLEs) can be designed to include the needs of learners with multiple disabilities. Specifically…

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1054

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address how virtual learning environments (VLEs) can be designed to include the needs of learners with multiple disabilities. Specifically, it employs AI to show how specific learning materials from a huge repository of learning materials can be recommended to learners with various disabilities. This is made possible through employing semantic web technology to model the learner and their needs.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reviews personalised learning for students with disabilities, revealing the shortcomings of existing e-learning environments with respect to students with multiple disabilities. It then proceeds to show how the needs of a student with multiple disabilities can be analysed and then simple logical operators and knowledge-based rules used to personalise learning materials in order to meet the needs of such students.

Findings

It has been acknowledged in literature that designing for cases of multiple disabilities is difficult. This paper shows that existing learning environments do not consider the needs of students with multiple disabilities. As they are not flexibly designed and hence not adaptable, they cannot meet the needs of such students. Nevertheless, it is possible to anticipate that students with multiple disabilities would use learning environments, and then design learning environments to meet their needs.

Practical implications

This paper, by presenting various combination rules to present specific learning materials to students with multiple disabilities, lays the foundation for the design and development of learning environments that are inclusive of all learners, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. This could potentially stimulate designers of such systems to produce such inclusive environments. Hopefully, future learning environments will be adaptive enough to meet the needs of learners with multiple disabilities.

Social implications

This paper, by proposing a solution towards developing inclusive learning environments, is a step towards inclusion of students with multiple disabilities in VLEs. When these students are able to access these environments with little or no barrier, they will be included in the learning community and also make valuable contributions.

Originality/value

So far, no study has proposed a solution to the difficulties faced by students with multiple disabilities in existing learning environments. This study is the first to raise this issue and propose a solution to designing for multiple disabilities. This will hopefully encourage other researchers to delve into researching the educational needs of students with multiple disabilities.

Details

The International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, vol. 34 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-4880

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2013

Julius T. Nganji, Mike Brayshaw and Brian Tompsett

The purpose of this paper is to show how personalisation of learning resources and services can be achieved for students with and without disabilities, particularly…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to show how personalisation of learning resources and services can be achieved for students with and without disabilities, particularly responding to the needs of those with multiple disabilities in e‐learning systems. The paper aims to introduce ONTODAPS, the Ontology‐Driven Disability‐Aware Personalised E‐Learning System, which has the mechanism for such personalisation.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reviews current e‐learning systems that provide personalisation for students, including their strengths and weaknesses. The paper presents personalisation and its techniques and then presents ONTODAPS, which personalises learning resources and services to students. In total, three case studies are considered to show how personalisation is achieved using ONTODAPS.

Findings

This paper shows that it is possible to use automated ontology‐based agents intercommunicating to provide an effective personalisation for disabled students. The results reveal that ONTODAPS is flexible enough to provide enough control and freedom to drive their learning. The results also suggest that ONTODAPS has the ability to provide appropriate levels of learner control by allowing them to self‐direct learning through personalising learning resources and then allowing them to choose which resources they wish to access. This thus gives them a sense of ownership and control.

Research limitations/implications

This research reveals that it is possible for e‐learning systems to personalise learning for users with multiple disabilities. Thus, by considering the needs of such users and consulting them in the design and development process, developers of e‐learning systems can produce systems that are both accessible and usable by students with disabilities.

Practical implications

The inclusion of multiple formats of learning resources and personalisation of their presentation to students means students will have increased access to such resources, with the potential of consuming and assimilating the information. This also has the potential of improving understanding and hence and improvement in results.

Social implications

This research shows that ONTODAPS is a medium where disabled students can have equivalent learning experience with their non‐disabled peers. This could potentially increase access to learning for disabled students and possibly help improve their results due to an increase in accessibility of learning resources and usability of the system. This system thus complies with contemporary legislation which requires “reasonable adjustments” or “reasonable accommodations” to be made to meet the needs of disabled people.

Originality/value

Although personalisation has been applied in e‐commerce systems, making them very successful, such personalisation is still a wish for e‐learning systems which struggle to catch up. This research proposes a solution in the e‐learning domain and its novelty is in its application to disabled students, including those with multiple disabilities.

Details

Campus-Wide Information Systems, vol. 30 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1065-0741

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Article
Publication date: 29 November 2018

Adina Mulliken and Kerry Falloon

The purpose of this paper is to explore a topic where blind participants expressed significant concern: obtaining full text and accessible full text.

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3268

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore a topic where blind participants expressed significant concern: obtaining full text and accessible full text.

Design/methodology/approach

This qualitative study includes 18 open-ended telephone interviews with blind academic library users in the USA. The study uses the viewpoint that understanding blind peoples’ perspectives is essential for equal accessibility.

Findings

Locating full text via link resolvers seemed problematic. Inaccessible articles and complications and delays creating accessible versions of print books limited participants’ use of materials. Enabling technologies and services were highlighted.

Research limitations/implications

Caution should be used when generalizing from this study due to its sample size and methodology. The study is not a web accessibility test, which would analyze coding, nor a usability test, which would observe users. Additional research would be ideal; however, libraries should not wait to attend to accessibility.

Practical implications

In addition to improving digital accessibility, to address difficulty obtaining full text, libraries could offer to locate full text for blind users and implement SmartLinking and single sign on authentication. To deal with inaccessible full text, libraries could work with disability offices to obtain accessible materials and to convert materials to accessible format. DRM free HTML or EPUB e-books can have accessibility advantages. Outsourcing conversion to accessible format can also help. Libraries could offer reader service to assist blind users locating relevant sections of books to convert.

Originality/value

Compared to previous studies, this study includes a larger number of blind screen reader users; describes some unique issues; and includes blind users’ own interpretations.

Details

Library Hi Tech, vol. 37 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0737-8831

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 1 January 1970

Jo Smedley

Abstract

Details

Information and Learning Science, vol. 119 no. 12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-5348

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