DIT - pioneers of inclusive ICT

Posted: 25 September, 2014

DIT wins major European Funding for development of Massive Open Online Courses in Accessibility and Universal Design for ICT professionals

DIT School of Computing - Ensuring access for all to IT

24 September, 2014:      Dr. John Gilligan, a lecturer in the DIT School of Computing, as part of a consortium of European universities, recently won significant European funding under the Strategic Partnership strand of the Erasmus+ 2014 call.  The MOOCA project is developing a set of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to train ICT professionals in the principles of Accessibility and Universal Design. 

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Universal Design is the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. After all bad design impacts everybody, from not being able to read text messages in sunlight to confusing road signs and poorly labelled medicine containers. Ambient environmental conditions can mean that at different times we cannot see, we cannot hear, we cannot reach or we cannot go where we need to go. 

The MOOCA Project aims to develop online resources to teach the principles of Universal and Accessible Design to ICT professionals. The partners in this project are amongst the leading researchers and pioneers of inclusive ICT worldwide. The partcipating Universities are

  • Stuttgart Media University (Gottfried Zimmerman)
  • Technical University of Dresden, Germany (Gerhard Weber)
  • Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria (Klaus Miesenberger)
  • University of York, UK (Helen Petrie)
  • Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland (John Gilligan)
  • Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway (Weiqin Chen)
  • Université Paris 8, France (Dominique Archambault)
  • University of Southampton, UK (Mike Wald)
  • University of the Aegan (Jenny Darzentas)

Accessible ICT looks at the design and implementation of ICT applications that can be used by as wide a range of people as possible. These include, for example,  the blind and visually impaired, those with cognitive challenges and those with motor difficulties amongst the population of potential users. It especially considers Accessible Web design and the implementation of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines(WCAG 1.0 and 2.0). Accessible ICT considers many alternative input/output technologies such as Switch Access and Text to Speech. Many of these have become mainstream such as speech recognition.

The leading international resource for Accessibility Curricula for ICT professionals is the 2011 CEN Community Workshop Agreement on 'Curriculum for training professionals in Universal Design’.  Dr. Gilligan, and other DIT School of Computing researchers including Damian Gordon and Ciaran O Leary were prominent contributors to this international agreement.  As part of MOOCA this resource will be upgraded to reflect many of the recent technical developments such as mobile technology and adaptive interfaces. DIT School of Computing has been involved for many years teaching courses on these topics and pursuing research in these areas. All undergraduate Computer Science Courses have a module on Universal design and Assistive ICT and we also have a taught masters in this subject area. The MOOCA project will pool materials from all partners to produce a valuable resource which will be made available in Europe and beyond.

For further information please contact: Dr. John Gilligan, john.gilligan@dit.ie.


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