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CAST & ISKME Partner to Make OERs More Inclusive, Effective

CISL: Center on Inclusive Software for Learning | Partners! CAST and ISKME, designer and host of OER Commons

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

CAST announces a new partnership with the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME)— the organization that manages OER Commons, the world’s leading OER repository—to improve the availability and accessibility of OERs.

Despite their promise, many OERs have remained inaccessible for students with disabilities and other learning differences. Static, inflexible formats such as PDF allow only marginal access via assistive technologies. The ability to customize and adapt these resources is rarely built in, and it is difficult for institutions to retrofit and convert digital objects into an accessible form.

As part of its leadership of the Center on Inclusive Software for Learning (CISL), CAST will work with ISKME to address this field-wide challenge. They will collaborate to update OER Commons and its Open Author content creation toolset in the following key areas:

  • Improving accessibility metadata used to make resources more discoverable. CAST and ISKME will create a process that ensures that OER creators and curators provide crucial information about that OER’s accessibility
  • Adding automated accessibility checking to the authoring system to ensure that more OER materials are designed with accessibility features such as text to speech and closed captioning on videos.
  • Enabling EPUB3 export for all material so that the rich library of content in OER Commons can all make use of the accessibility features built into the EPUB3 format.
  • Introducing UDL‐inspired supports into the authoring system, so that new content added to OER Commons can include supports based on Universal Design for Learning principles, such as glossary definitions and background-knowledge scaffolds.

“We are very excited to be partnering with ISKME,” says Boris Goldowsky, CAST Director of Technology and one of CISL’s Principal Investigators. “They are one of the leading organizations that helps teachers, schools, and districts discover, create and customize OERs. We have a common interest in improving the accessibility of these resources, increasing the flexibility of their use, and adding supports that will make these materials more effective for a wider diversity of students.”

“While OER Commons is easily navigable for learners with disabilities, we are taking our metadata and native content created on OER Commons to a new level of accessibility,” says Lisa Petrides, CEO and founder of ISKME. “The changes that CAST and ISKME are making will help ease the burden for teachers to have to keep abreast of the latest accessibility research and best practices. We hope that our work with CAST will set a high standard for what OER should look like and ensure that OER is accessible to all learners when it is first created.”

About CAST
Founded in 1984, CAST is a nonprofit whose mission is to transform education design and practice until learning has no limits. Winner of the Smithsonian Innovation in Education award and many other honors, CAST conducts research and development, provides technical assistance and professional development, and publishes exceptional media for the education market. CAST authored the widely-used Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework and UDL Guidelines.

ISKME is an independent, education nonprofit whose mission is to improve the practice of continuous learning, collaboration, and change in the education sector. ISKME conducts social science research, develops research‐based innovations, and facilitates innovation that improves knowledge sharing in education.

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