An Encompassing Vision Of Accessibility, Across Lands And Senses. Rami Farran At MoodleMoot US 2018


Director of Academic IT at American University of Beirut, in Lebanon, Rami Farran, flew half-way around the globe to expand American Moodlers’ views on disability. Just like getting to Denver from Beirut, there’s two ways to go about the issue: By measuring how able we are, or how much impaired we are, compared to an “ideal learning” situation. (This idea, by the way, of an “ideal learning,” should spur a more open discussion, especially regarding its importance in pedagogy.)

There are 4 main sources of accessibility impairment: Visual, Hearing, Motor, and Cognitive. Impairments can be permanent or temporary, and so too are the solutions available. Farran’s take, called “Accessibility First,” proposes a “round” take, by not just considering the extreme cases of impairment, but the whole spectrum. He lists a number of examples in which technologies originally designed for acute physical limitation find a wide adoption across the accessibility spectrum. The solution seems clear. By broadening the horizons, not only will more people benefit, but the perception about accessibility and impairment will change. One of the MoodleMoot’s subtexts, the Sustainable Development Goals, is also discussed as well. Namely, number 10: Reduced inequalities. (Number 3, Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, is arguably addressed as well, even if indirectly.)

Countries like the US, and foreign universities funded with public US funds, are required to implement accessibility standards. But compliance to laws should be understood as a check or a test. Accessibility approaches, designed to satisfy a law, can inadvertently compromise its long term effectiveness, making it fall prey to the Goodhart paradox – this idea of making a target useless by demanding it to be reached above all else.

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