The work of the AccessED team began as part of the 2014-15 edition of Harvard’s University-wide Digital Problem Solving Initiative (“DPSI”) . DPSI’s AccessEd team spent the fall semester 2014 exploring and evaluating innovative ways to improve accessibility in online education. As more and more teaching materials move online (including everything from coursebooks to audio and video recordings of lectures), education necessarily becomes more reliant on multimedia modes of presentation. The proliferation of teaching media opens open extraordinary opportunities for students and instructors alike, but it raises questions for those with visual or hearing impairments.
The AccessEd team sought to review existing practices around accessibility for class materials offered via the Internet; evaluate legal and other obligations and restrictions on the ways in which course materials may be presented; assess the state of accessibility technology and evaluate technological solutions; and catalog available resources in this space.
DPSI is an innovative and collaborative program that brings together a diverse group of learners (students, faculty, fellows, and staff) to work on projects to address challenges and opportunities across the university. DPSI offers participants a novel opportunity to enhance and cultivate competency in various digital literacies as teams engage with research, design, and policy relating to the digital world.