Enabling Content Access for All

People, whether student groups or individuals, learn and consume content in different ways. The exact method may be dictated by circumstance, such as not being able to read printed material while driving or to hear in a high noise environment like a gym, or it may be influenced by personal needs and preferences. No matter the motivation, the ability to have content available in the format most suitable to the consumer is called accessibility. These alternate formats are called adaptations.

If you look back ten years, before the dawn of ebooks and smartphones, content was created by large publishers and adaptations created by specialized providers with dedicated channels. Now, with digital media and the advent of the internet, the tools to create content, whether textbooks, exercises or labs are available to a broad range of people; the tools to create adaptations, whether captions, accessible web pages, audio or other more specialized formats are now widely available, often in open source or readily available tools. The older channels are still very important, but there are new content and channels developing.

It is already difficult to create a focused search to find content on the web. As content becomes more granular, e.g., textbooks being available by the chapter or concept, and adaptations are more readily available, it will be more difficult to find the right content. The Learning Resources Metadata Initiative (LRMI) gives a way to specify the content type, typical age target and other information and to weave this into the fabric of the web through metadata standards (i.e., schema.org). The Accessibility Metadata Project extends this effort, using the work of Access for All to integrate information on the media types and features, whether captions, ebooks, audio, etc. into the web fabric to be reachable by all.

When adopted into the web standards and used by content producers, web searches will be able to find the most appropriate content. Users of a given piece of content will be able to easily find alternative adaptations. Making the content discoverable will be a major step in making content accessible for all.

To learn more about this project, see

  • Impact: The driver and value for all of the all of the constituencies who will benefit from this effort
  • Specification and examples: The detailed technical summary of the metadata specification and examples
  • Resources: Best practices for content creators, including a detailed guide for implementers
  • Implementations: As more content is developed and tagged, we’ll highlight these sources, search engines and other tools
  • Blog: Breaking developments
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