OZeWAI Accessibility Conference highlights

OZeWAI - Australian Web Adaptability Initiative

Since 1998, the OZeWAI conference has brought together people from all over Australia and the world to share experiences and advances in web standards, with an emphasis on inclusivity and accessibility. Over the last few years delegates have met in facilities among the beautiful trees on Latrobe University’s Bundoora campus in Melbourne’s north east. This year the conference ran from 8th to 10th December and was sponsored by Web Key IT, Digital Accessibility Centre and Media Access Australia.

Jacqui van Teulingen, Director of Web Advice and Policy at the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) delivered the keynote asking the question “Are we there yet?” referencing the National Transition Strategy deadline that had the goal of all Australian federal government websites being WCAG 2.0 Level AA conformant by the end of 2014. While progress has been made, the ambitious goal was not met but there has been a significant cultural shift, and the “Digital by Default” strategy is expected to continue the trend towards inclusivity.

This was followed by an update on W3C/WAI, ISO and GPII (Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure) activities from various contributors, then how universities are tackling inclusion and accessibility with representatives from LaTrobe University, Melbourne University and Monash University.

We saw presentations discussing social media and cloud computing accessibility, and a presentation from Andrew Arch on the beautifully meta subject of a standard for standards writers, describing what they should consider to incorporate accessibility in their standards. Yes, my brain exploded.

Mark Rogers of PowerMapper gave a demonstration of screen readers, and shared their fantastic screen reader comparison resource. See which screen reader supports which web technology (eg ARIA, CSS, HTML5 etc) in which browser, what caniuse.com is to HTML5, the PowerMapper Screen Reader compatibility matrix is to screen readers.

I was privileged to present the E-standards Accessible HTML5 Media Player, developed by Sean Norrey at Kangan Institute. I spoke about a little of its history and gradual enhancement which culminated in it winning the Deafness Forum of Australia’s 2014 Online Captioning & Digital Innovation Award. Of course, technology was waiting to bite me (despite my extensive sacrifices to the demo gods), and the projector’s screen resolution interfered with my demonstration.

This was followed by a session on accessible documents including Leona Zumbo introducing Vision Australia’s Document Accessibility Toolbar for MS Word, and Rosemary Spark and Rebecca Stringer Krein talking about training in MS Word accessibility.

Miran Choi, visiting from Korea, presented her work in accessibility requirements for language learning using text-to-speech technologies, and was followed Leona Zumbo introducing the study of the PDF format undertaken by Vision Australia for AGIMO. Mark Rogers also spoke about the WCAG Sufficient Techniques.

An interesting session on natural search user interfaces was presented by Ying-Hsang Liu from Charles Sturt University’s usability lab: “User-centred design and evaluation of information retrieval systems”, including trials of an alternative pointing device (literally – a glove). They used FaceLab’s EyeTracker to identify where people look for information: top left wins again.

Scott Hollier, Gian Wild and Dan Craddock discussed ongoing problems with PDF use. Dan shared stats on PDF use from the Consumer Affairs Victoria site which showed 0.18% of publication views were PDF downloads vs 99.82% page views. When the argument “but what about the aged?” was raised, retirement village stats did show a difference at 0.82% PDF downloads vs 99.18% page views. Andrew Downie gave his perspective on the Alternative Text conundrum – a picture tells a thousand words (but not to screen reader users, those with limited vision, a cognitive disability or a slow connection). Alt text is essential – afford it the same importance as the image.

The elephant in the room—cognitive disability—was the subject of the next session. There are two million Australians who identify as having a cognitive disability, which by the way does NOT equal an intellectual impairment. There is assistive technology for those with cognitive disabilities, but problems arise when trying to explain how it can be used.

The last session was by Gian Wild who described which accessibility-focused activities to perform at which stages of a website development, with a reminder to include periodic reviews after launch. Gian was followed by Justin Brown of Edith Cowan University, who spoke about the accessibility attributes of content management system authoring environments.

The conference finished up with the OZeWAI Annual General Meeting, discussing the possibility of holding next year’s meeting in Canberra and electing the office bearers for 2015. Presentations are expected to be shared on the OZeWAI website soon.

Learning culture, 70:20:10 and digital transformations

Darcy Nicolson talking with an attendee at the Learning@Work conference

This year was the first year that eWorks both attended and sponsored the Learning@Work conference in Sydney in October 2014. We take conference sponsorship pretty seriously here at eWorks, as we feel that it is important to support events that promote the latest strategies, developments and technologies underpinning training. But eWorks consists of a bunch of e-learning experts – so why bother with a learning and development conference?

What is Learning@Work?

Learning@Work is Australia’s largest independently organised L&D conference and Australia’s only L&D trade show focused exclusively on technology for L&D Managers. The event brings together learning and development (L&D) directors and practitioners, human resource (HR) directors and practitioners, training providers and recruitment companies.

The agenda this year followed a number of important themes, including how social media and mobile learning will accelerate workplace learning and development. It also offered L&D and HR professionals an ideal platform to discuss the growing role of technology to transform the workplace.

Main topics covered were:

  • Building a learning culture
  • 70:20:10 and beyond
  • Collaboration and learning with social media
  • m-learning
  • Getting into the mind of the working learner.

What did eWorks’ staff say about the event?

“It was great talking with the Learning@work crowd, hearing their excitement about new technologies and processes that will underlie future training projects,” says Darcy Nicolson, e-learning consultant at eWorks.

MOOCs were again a hot topic, as was gamification, and the discussions we had at the eWorks stand centred around how to apply these theories to learning program design,” says Darcy.

Why did eWorks sponsor an L&D conference?

Back now to that question of why we sponsored the event. Well first of all, we’re all about making learning easier, more convenient and more efficient through technology – both for the learner and the organisation delivering the training.

Secondly, we’re not just technology experts who sit around talking about the latest developments in digital learning systems. We have really cool solutions to help you get started. We even develop your online content. Here is a bit of a spiel but in fact we offer a flexible solution (TVC Enterprise) specifically designed for learning and development management, like:

  • Individual learning plans to reflect employee roles, training needs and objectives
  • Compliance and assessment management plus business analytics and reporting
  • Facilities to track on-the-job training, guide development and assess progress towards career and company goals.

See you at Learning@Work next year. In the meantime, if you have any questions about digital learning management, do get in touch.

NVET 2014 – Making the impossible possible

Darcy at NVET 2014

Way back in September (how time flies!), three eWorks staff members set off for sunny Brisvegas to attend the 2014 National VET Conference. The theme for this year’s event was Impossible is Possible Together, encouraging all attendees, delegates, presenters and sponsors to consider:

  • the huge range of resources that is available to the VET sector,
  • upcoming changes in the VET sector and how to engage with each other to embrace these changes.

The Hon. Ian Macfarlane MP, Minister for Industry, was a keynote speaker at the 2014 National VET Conference, where he addressed the future of the VET sector. He discussed the Australian Government’s plans to revamp the training system, suggesting that the proposed reforms are designed to elevate trades and vocational education to the centre of Australia’s economy.

There was a huge amount of excited energy throughout the two days in Brisbane, as you would expect when so many passionate VET practitioners come together. It’s tough to choose the highlight of the event – excellent speakers and workshops, or perhaps the masquerade ball! But this is definitely one to mark in the calendar for next year.

“We had such a great time at NVET this year”, says Darcy Nicolson, E-learning Consultant at eWorks.

“The feedback from people accessing ready-made content through VET Commons was incredible. It is so rewarding to hear that the work we’re doing is actually making life easier for busy VET practitioners”, says Darcy.

Register today to access high-quality, easy-to-use, free content from VET Commons.

Cutting edge e-learning technology meets healthcare

In 2010 Sydney Adventist Hospital transitioned from paper-based to online training with the aim to make learning more accessible and efficient – and it worked. Gina Veliotis, E-learning Coordinator at Adventist HealthCare, shares their story.

Workplace education at Sydney Adventist Hospital, New South Wales’ largest private and not-for-profit hospital, dates back to the hospital’s opening in 1903 with an onsite nursing school. Today, onsite training has grown substantially, but the way that it is delivered has changed dramatically.

Historically nurse training was paper-based, requiring face to face training. Labour intensive and time consuming, attendance rates varied subject to clinical pressures. In 2010 Sydney Adventist Hospital (The San) transitioned to an e-learning platform with the aim to make learning more accessible and efficient – and it worked.

Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (Moodle) was chosen to give hospital educators another way to deliver education and training to staff. The use of Moodle as an e-learning platform has improved compliance dramatically; employees can now complete clinical and compliance training anywhere, anytime on their computer, mobile phone or tablet. Users can engage with digital learning resources including interactive activities and videos, offering staff a compelling, helpful and authentic learning experience.

The Right Approach

Moodle has enabled the hospital to develop training programs that meet the needs of individuals as well as stringent accreditation requirements of the Australian statutory bodies. Scenario-based online training helps staff learn critical theory before they practice decisions and skills in a guided clinical setting. Bringing together the best of e-learning, skills workshops, clinical simulation labs and workplace practice learning helps bridge the gap between theory and practice.

“The quality of online, classroom and clinical simulation facilities is excellent. Integrating theory and clinical is very helpful,” says a participant in the hospital’s nurse re-entry program.

The Inaugural Health MoodleMoot

Register online: Health Moodlemoot 2014 Innovation - Sydney 27-28 Nov

The Sydney Adventist Hospital is hosting Australia’s first Health Moodle Conference (MoodleMoot) – Moodle and Innovation in Healthcare Education’ – in November 2014. The two day event will showcase successful implementations of Moodle, and related technologies and approaches, that promote exploration, simulation, sharing and collaboration in healthcare education..

Sessions will be presented by clinical educators, learning designers, multimedia experts, and Moodle experts and administrators, who will share their experience and knowledge in meeting the complex and diverse challenges faced by healthcare education.

Did you know that you can access free, ready-made healthcare training content through VETCommons? Register today and choose from over 15,000 curated learning resources such as:

  • Patient Care – Plans and Pathways
  • Health Assessment in Nursing, and
  • Infection Control in Healthcare.