It has to be said that I’ve never had more pleasure than working with Barrier Break Technologies (the guys behind India Techshare) when it come to accessible Flash. Working closely with Adobe, RNIB in the UK, Vision Australia and disability organisations and groups all over the world I’d say they have a pretty good handle on things.
So I was very happy to find in my inbox this morning a request for beta testers for the BarrierBreak Course Authoring Tool (BCAT). Simply put BCAT is designed and developed to assist teachers/authors in creating accessible Flash based Elearning courses. Spot on, I thought, Flash is such a great technology for Elearning but it’s fairly unrealistic to expect teachers to know how to create Flash let alone accessible Flash.
So Barrier Break are inviting users with disabilities to have a look and share their thoughts with them. So without further ado here are the details about the tool and how to get involved:
Right to education is universal. Education has evolved from blackboard to keyboard. Elearning has broken the geographical barriers and made it possible for people to access knowledge with ease and convenience.
Despite the benefits offered by Elearning, it is not possible for students with special needs to access Elearning courses. Students using assistive technologies can with little ease access HTML based elearning but are deprived of the rich learning experience provided by technologies such as Flash. The common myth that prevails is that ‘Flash cannot be made accessible’ Its time that we over come this myth and change the mind set to ‘Flash can be made Accessible’.
Net Systems Informatics & BarrierBreak Technologies have taken the initiative to break this myth and have launched the Beta version of “BarrierBreak Course Authoring Tool (BCAT)”. BCAT is designed and developed to assist teachers/authors in creating accessible Flash based Elearning courses. BCAT is an easy to use tool with in-built keyboard and screen reader support enabling students with disabilities to experience the power of Elearning!
BCAT comprises of two main components, Course Authoring Tool based on Moodle Learning management System and Flash Architecture to access the course contents. In addition, the teacher/author can add various accessibility options to the course such as: Alternate Text, Captions, and Transcripts.
Once the course is published, the contents are generated in to XML and users can access the course using a Flash player. The Flash course thus created provides users with an “Accessibility Panel” to meet their needs:
- Show/Hide Captions
- Audio Transcript
- Change Themes
- Small/Large Icons
- Show/Hide Labels
- Change Text Size
We invite users with disabilities, teachers/authors, accessibility community at large to access BCAT and provide their valuable feedback and suggestions to make BCAT a tool for inclusive education.
Once you sign up, you will receive an email including further instructions. Along with the email, you will receive a ReadMe file, documentation for creating a course, documentation for using the course and bug report file.
The Beta Test Run is open until 20th January 2009. All suggestions are highly appreciated and will help us to make BCAT more user-friendly and accessible for all.
It’s good to see that accessibility in education is getting a little love from projects such as this one Project:Possibility and the Opera Web Standards Curriculum. More exciting things are to come too with the Web Standards Project Curriculum Framework, expect some news about that soon.