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MOOC Accessibility Partnership
Start date: Sep 1, 2014, End date: Aug 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The purpose of the project is to implement a sustainable strategic partnership between European universities that excel in both teaching accessible design in ICT and providing an inclusive learning environment to students with disabilities. The project will devise and implement a joint curriculum framework on accessible design in ICT, by means of massive open online courses (MOOCs) directed to the registered students of the partnering universities, as well as to professionals in the field in the form of vocational and educational training. Driven by the ratification of the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2008, the European Commission and national governments are planning for guidance and legislative actions to follow up. The goal of the UNCRPD is an inclusive society in which persons with disabilities have equal rights and equal access to education, built environment and information and communication technology (ICT). However, there is a great lack of knowledge and expertise on accessible design of professionals in the ICT domain across Europe. Therefore, one of the recommendations of G3ict's CRPD 2013 ICT Accessibility Progress Report is to build capacity, e.g. through training programs for future professionals about digital access for Persons with disabilities. This project will build the required capacity in Europe by bringing together European universities with the according expertise and existing curricular activities in the field. The goal is sustainable exchange and harmonization of knowledge and teaching materials, and a joint provision of educational services, to foster a more inclusive higher education in Europe, and to provide a low-barrier education and training on accessible design in ICT to current and future professionals. The vehicle for this goal is a joint framework for teaching massive open online courses (MOOCs), employing available interoperability standards and infrastructures for scalable learning design. The fundamental concept for this framework is separated into two iterations: Iteration 1: Planning, implementation and evaluation of an introductory massive open online course on basics in accessible design in ICT, to be hosted at one of the wider known international MOOC platforms, with the goal to enhance visibility and to draw participation from students and professionals in the field. The course will be jointly designed and evaluated by all partnering universities, with each partner providing the content for one unit (according to their expertise). The course will be open to everyone and will provide a basic level of exposure and knowledge in accessible design in ICT. It will itself be accessible, to allow for the participation of persons with disabilities. It will also include an overview on areas of specialization within the field. The online course will be highly scalable and cater for participation from a massive number of participants throughout Europe. Iteration 2: Planning, implementation and evaluation of a set of online courses with more in-depth and focused learning topics. The specialized courses will serve as logical follow-up for the participants of the introductory course who want to gain expertise in one of the specialized areas. The choice and structure of the specialized courses will be jointly defined by the partnering universities, based on the feedback gained in the dissemination/follow-up phase of iteration 1. Due to the higher specialization degree, these courses will be designed to address a less massive amount of participants, which enables a more individualized learning experience. However, scalability will still be a requirement. Each of the partnering institutions is expected to implement one of the specialized courses, providing necessary workforce and infrastructure. In iteration 2, the partners will also devise a roadmap for a common certification scheme for the curriculum framework on accessible design in ICT. This project will bring about the following results: • A sustainable network of European higher education institutions devoted to accessible education, teaching a broad range of topics on accessible design in ICT. • A free MOOC on the basics of accessible design in ICT, available to all students of the networked institutions, as well as to professionals in the field, both including persons with disabilities. • A set of free online courses on specialized topics of accessible design in ICT, available to all students of the networked institutions, as well as to professionals in the field, both including persons with disabilities. • Detailed knowledge on the actual educational needs of professionals in the field, with regard to accessible design in ICT. • A roadmap for a common certification scheme for the online courses. • Experience and knowledge on new online teaching methods for internal teaching and vocational training.

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