The i-access conference was held in Copenhagen on 22–24 June 2011. The event was hosted by the Agency, in co-operation with the Danish Ministry of Education.
The aim of this conference was to identify the implications of international and European policy on accessibility for information providers in the field of education. The processes that organisations need to consider in order to ensure accessible information provision were also identified. The objective was then to collate this information and develop recommendations for the implementation of i-accessibility.
The conference delegates included: key information providers for lifelong learning (European Schoolnet, International Association of Universities), including decision-makers and multipliers (journalists and researchers in the field) nominated by the Agency’s country representatives; representatives of stakeholder groups working with accessible ICT (Adobe, Daisy Consortium, Microsoft, W3C/WAI) and international organisations (UNESCO and G3ict). All these stakeholders reflected on policy requirements and current practice regarding the accessibility of information relevant for lifelong learning, and identified key issues relevant for developing a set of proposed recommendations.
Outcomes of the i-access Conference
Following the discussions, seven areas for recommendations were agreed:
- Raising awareness and sensitising all stakeholders of the importance of i-access;
- Multi-stakeholder approach and international co-operation;
- Accessibility issues covered in education and training for professionals in lifelong learning;
- Accessibility issues covered in education and training for professionals in ICT;
- Promoting research and developing an evidence base for future policy design, implementation and evaluation;
- Monitoring of compliance to accessibility policy.
As a result of all of the project conference debates and inputs, the i-access experts agreed upon a number of guiding principles that underpin any recommendations for policy and practice related to providing accessible information for lifelong learning. The guiding principles for these areas are:
- Access to information is a fundamental right - it empowers learners and facilitates their participation in society. This access must be provided in the earliest phases of learning and accompany a learner throughout their lifetime.
- It is vital that any policy or recommendation does not regard technology as an end in itself. The systemic factors that determine the use of tools for lifelong learning must be recognised and considered.
- Accessible information provision needs to be considered in its widest interpretation to include people with all forms of disabilities and/or special educational needs.
- Accessibility benefits users with disabilities and/or special educational needs and may often benefit all users.