E-Inclusion in education (2007)

Information society might be held responsible in the case it excluded and rejected those citizens that due to historical-geographical, situational, economic reasons as well as to disabilities, could not access standard technology. The actual answer to special needs of these categories pertains the concept of "universal access" and "design for all" referred to computer applications. Hence, ICT tools accessibility is a major issue today and involves all environments where they are increasingly used. Mainstream education certainly is a specific sector where the problem is being tackled and still has a long way to go.

Since 2006 ITD has carried out research work in this field also participating in the Ministry of Education "ICT and disabilities" project. Currently its activity concerns:

Tools for accessibility evaluation of computer applications. In this context ITD designed a methodology for accessibility analysis of educational software based both on compatibility evaluation of each product on the grounds of Italian legislation requirements (act 4/2004 aka "Legge Stanca") and "usage evaluation" through a test on difficulties met by disabled students during its use; in both cases ad hoc evaluation schemes were made available.

Documentation on educational software accessibility. A well-constructed evaluation process is being used within Essediquadro (SD2), a documentation service on educational software implemented by ITD. Most products also include information on accessibility that besides evaluation supplies tips and hints on accessibility and use issues of each product and on assistive technology compatibility

Highly accessible software prototype implementation. During 2007 ITD produced the So.Di.Linux For All Live DVD ( containing 150 open source software applications oriented to education and learning. The DVD qualities are twofold, i.e., supplying an example of computer application designed according to the "design for all" criteria and of database (SD2) able to supply specific information on education and learning software accessibility.

Teacher training methodologies to awaken them to accessibility issues pertaining educational software and applicatons. As to teachers, ITD also promotes pilot actions against technological barriers and in favour of disabled students inclusion. Such activity required the design of a specific training methodology rooted both in an in-depth knowledge of related issues and in a well-focused knowledge about available technology. The latter activity provided a spin-off for "accessible learning paths" designed and implemented in the classroom by teachers of all school grades. In every respect, such paths are good practices of software use to support the inclusion of disabled students in mainstream curricular activities and are accessible at http;//

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