Integrate Web Accessibility Enhance Quality of e-Learning

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The potential of e-Learning relies on many factors such as the readiness of Internet connectivity and accessibility of on-line content. E-Learning opportunities need to be extended for all, thus it seems necessary that the web administrator, instructional designer and e-Learning producer should learn, develop and disseminate web accessibility design rules for all electronic learning material. This paper will present the current opportunities that students with disabilities have in accessing e-Learning in a selected developing country, namely Thailand, where assistive technology is still limited. The study has collected information which described different projects implemented to support students with disabilities: list of existing resources for university students with disabilities, the policies and plans of both the government and private sectors in Thailand for supporting students with disabilities.

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<ul><li><p> The proceedings of </p><p> 2553 </p><p>National e-Learning Conference 2010 </p><p>Enhancing the Quality of e-Learning </p><p> 10-11 2553 </p></li><li><p>51</p><p>Integrate Web Accessibility Enhance Quality of e-Learning </p><p>Poonsri Vate-U-Lan College of Internet Distance Education, Assumption University </p><p>(poonsri.vate@gmail.com) </p><p>ABSTRACT The potential of e-Learning relies on many factors such as the readiness of Internet connectivity and accessibility of on-line content. E-Learning opportunities need to be extended for all, thus it seems necessary that the web administrator, instructional designer and e-Learning producer should learn, develop and disseminate web accessibility design rules for all electronic learning material. This paper will present the current opportunities that students with disabilities have in accessing e-Learning in a selected developing country, namely Thailand, where assistive technology is still limited. The study has collected information which described different projects implemented to support students with disabilities: list of existing resources for university students with disabilities, the policies and plans of both the government and private sectors in Thailand for supporting students with disabilities. It also includes a report on the responses of web administrators who have created e-Learning opportunities in secondary schools and universities in Thailand for these students. In theory web accessibility needs to be introduced and improved, especially regarding e-Learning; however in practice, there is no research studying web accessibility for disabled students and actual planning and practice available in Thailand. The Thai Government is promoting many projects to encourage people to access the Internet which means including people with disabilities. It is very obvious that assistive technology is in high demand in Thailand; the reasons for this are that computer technology and the Internet will play an important role for improving and enhancing quality of education for students with disabilities in developing countries like Thailand. Distance education can reduce barriers for people who live in rural area and have less opportunity to access knowledge in the traditional mode because of limited </p><p>facilities or political and security difficulties in the three provinces of the southern part of Thailand. Thus, the Integration of web accessibility in electronic learning material will surely offer a better opportunity not only for normal students but also for students with special needs in Thailand. Keywords e-Learning, e-Learning production, Instructional Designer, Learning Management System (LMS), Moodle, students with disabilities, students with special need, Internet-based survey, Thailand, web accessibility 1) INTRODUCTION Do the job right the first time. is an ideal to defect prevention and upgrade the quality of product (Crosby &amp; Weiss, 2010). Higher education institutions where e-Learning already adopted into the system were very much concerned about quality of e-Learning. Integrate web accessibility to e-Learning definitely added value of education. The terms of quality through e-Learning referred to potential of e-Learning which was able to increase educational opportunities for all (Ehlers, Goertz, Hildebrandt, &amp; Pawlowski, 2005). Accessibility of e-Learning contents or in the other words, on-line course material was an important aspect of e-Learning quality (the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education, 2008). The reason for this was the concept of web accessibility itself that emphasized on the equal right of people to access to all available on-line information. The web accessibility procedure focused about how to create, design and develop web sites that usable by all people, which included people with disabilities. Therefore, it seems necessary that the web administrator, instructional designer and e-Learning producer should learn, develop and </p></li><li><p>52</p><p>disseminate web accessibility design rules for all electronic learning materials. In theory web accessibility needs to be introduced and improved, especially regarding e-Learning; however in practice, there was no research studying web accessibility for disabled students and actual planning and practice available in Thailand. The Thai Government is promoting e-Learning projects to offer variety options to educate people through the Internet which means including students with disabilities. The number of Thai Internet users who were seeking e-Learning courses was increasing dramatically. Thailand Cyber University, is an organization who response to provide on-line education for higher education in Thailand, have more than 44,318 members applied to participate in on-line courses in July 2008. Two years later, in July 2010, the numbers of members has been increased 64.5 per cent per year approximately, as recorded that there were 101,574 members applied (Thailand Cyber University, 2008, 2010). Interestingly, there was none of a study to record about how many Thai people with disabilities access to e-Learning and what kind disabilities. Thus, the Integration of web accessibility in electronic learning material will surely offer a better opportunity not only for normal students but also for students with special needs in Thailand. This paper will present the current opportunities that students with disabilities have in accessing e-learning in a selected developing country, namely Thailand, where assistive technology was still limited. It includes a report on the responses of web administrators who have created e-Learning opportunities in secondary schools and universities in Thailand for these students. 2) LITERATURE REVIEWS The consequence of web accessibility occurred by the fact that all people include people with disability, have equal right to access to all kinds of information. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2010) disability covers an interaction between health </p><p>conditions and the environment in the multidimensional concept. It includes impairment of mind or body structure/functions which cause limitation in activities, a restriction in participation such as involvement in life situations such as work, social interaction and education, and the affected persons physical and social environment. Web accessibility has been introduced to be a standard across nations (Thompson, Burgstahler, Moore, Gunderson, &amp; Hoyt, 2007), thus it was necessary to implicate to be a standard of e-Learning. The statistic indicated less than 15 per cent of people were born with their disability, later in life there are hundreds of different kinds of disabilities (Weir, 2010). The numbers of people with learning disabilities were increasing by many reasons. The form of learning disability can be derived from characters of students which categorized into 3Ds groups (Robson, 2007): A/Disabilities refers to disabilities or impairments viewed in medical terms as organic disorders of students attributable to organic pathologies, B/Difficulties refers to behavioral or emotional disorders, or specific difficulties of students in learning and C/Disadvantages refers to disadvantages arising primarily from socio-economic, cultural, and/or linguistic factors of students. Situation of assistive technology in Thailand was similar to other developing countries; there were both web accessibility policy and assistive technology support projects. Ministry of Information and Communication Technology Thailand (2008) for example, conducted Web Accessibility Contest as a part of ICT Equitable Society Project which introduced and encouraged web masters to concerned web accessibility. There was also an annual contest for innovative technologies and applications for people with disabilities in Thailand (NECTEC, 2008). Disabilities rights have been provisioned on the section 55 of Thailands former constitution; however, most people with disabilities did not yet have full benefits from the law (Anantho, 2007). Education has been concerned as one of top five social risks among </p></li><li><p>53</p><p>Thai people with disabilities since most people with disabilities were undereducated, especially the blind (Anantho, 2007). A strong need for better opportunity in education from Thai people with disability reflected from a better job required a better education (Anantho, 2007). In Thailand, people with disabilities were limited of job opportunities, health care, and adaptive equipments (Simchareon, 2005). There were only 20.39 per cent of people with disabilities employed after completed degrees in vocational education (Mahidol University, 1998 cited in Simchareon, 2005). The evidences of students with disability in Thailand according to the Office of the Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education of Thailand (2006) report, there were 3,023 students in K-12 who were people with disabilities. Students with disabilities in Thailand included nine groups of disabilities: motor disabilities, blind or vision impairments, deaf or hard of hearing, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, autistic disorder, cognitive disabilities, verbal and linguistics disabilities, mental retardation and multiple disabilities (Office of the Basic Education Commission: Ministry of Education of Thailand, 2007). In Thailand, hill tribe students have been categorized into one of student group who had limited opportunities. Students with limited opportunities in Thailand included 11 kinds: youth forced to work, youth in sexual business, abandoned youth, youth in detention center, homeless youth, youth who affected from AIDS, hill tribes youth, youth who was mistreat, poor youth, youth who was addict to drugs and others (Office of the Basic Education Commission: Ministry of Education of Thailand, 2007). The Office of the Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education of Thailand (2006) reported only 513 students in K-12 who were hill tribes. There was none of report, paper or study of how many hill tribe students were enrolled in post secondary education in Thailand. However, in practice, it might be only few or none of students with limited opportunities in Thailand pass through the post secondary education level since the demand of work force in agriculture field. </p><p> Bureau of Special Education Administration within Ministry of Education in Thailand (2008a), is the main department of the Thai Government that aims to serve basic education to people with disabilities and tailored special needs to fit individuals. This office provided 169 special education schools and centers that can be categorized into three groups: special education schools (43 schools in 35 provinces), special education centers (76 centers) and Suksasongkhro Schools for disadvantages students (50 schools in 42 provinces) (Bureau of Special Education Administration, 2008a). This bureau provided only two reports on Key Performance Indicator of Students Quality; 43 special education schools and 50 Suksasongkhro Schools but special education centers (76 centers). According to Bureau of Special Education Administration (2008b), in 2006 only 36.8 per cent (111 students) of students with disabilities in 43 special education schools were enrolled in post secondary education in Thailand. Thus, approximately three fifths (63.2% or 191) of students with disabilities in 43 special education schools were neither continue their education nor working. On the contrary, in 2006 almost nine tenths or 87.8 per cent (2,194 students) of students in 50 Suksasongkhro Schools were enrolled in post secondary education in Thailand (Bureau of Special Education Administration, 2008c). Thus only 12.2 per cent (304 students) in 50 Suksasongkhro Schools were neither continue their education nor working (Bureau of Special Education Administration, 2008c). According to this information, approximately three fifths or more than half of students under the service of Bureau of Special Education Administration continued study in Thai education system. Therefore, the demand of integrate web accessibility into e-Learning will be obviously benefit to students with special need since they were in the education system. The Commission on Higher Education of Thailand became aware of importance and right of people with disabilities in higher education levels since they need to have opportunities for </p></li><li><p>54</p><p>education and facilities. In 2007, the first survey that gathering data regarding to support and develop service systems to serve students with disabilities in higher education had been conducted; this was to prepare necessary information for institutes in Thailand to improve education quality. According to the Commission on Higher Education of Thailand (2007), there were 1,928 university students with disabilities, male 60.3 per cent and female 39.7 per cent. These data were derived from 187 higher education institutes under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Higher Education of Thailand. Approximately three fifths (61.50% or 115 institutes) of institutes in Thailand participated to the survey. The summary of this report were 64.35 per cent of higher education institutes in Thailand had university students with disabilities. The majority of institutes in Thailand who participated in this survey also disclosed that approximately seven tenths (68.75%) had none administrative center responded to serve university students with disabilities. Remarkably, only one tenth of universities included services for students with disabilities in Student Affairs, Disability Support Service Office and Office of Educational Services (10.72, 9.82 and 9.82 % respectively). The Commission on Higher Education of Thailand indicated nine types of disabilities as same as Office of the Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education of Thailand which differ from general kinds of disabilities that can affect access to on-line information. The university students with motor disabilities were the biggest group (28.3 %) followed by blind or vision impairments (17%), deaf or hard of hearing (15.1%), attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (10.7%), autistic disorder (10.3%), cognitive disabilities (9%), verbal and linguistics disabilities (4.4%), mental retardation (3.3%) and multiple disabilities (2.1%) respectively. e-Learning opportunity need to be opened for all, thus web administrator, instructional designer and e-Learning production officers should educate, consider and perform web accessibility design rules for all electronic </p><p>learning material. In theory web accessibility need to be implemented especially in e-Learning section, however in practice, there is only few studies start to focus about situations of web accessibility in Thailand. Even though, the biggest groups or about seven tenths of Internet users in Thailand were in institutions (Vate-U-Lan, 2007). In summary, web accessibility is the global standard which extended its scope to cover e-Learning. In Thailand, there were approximately th...</p></li></ul>

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