Mozfest 2013 and engagement opportunities for users with disabilities

I  attended this weekend’s MozFest 2013 in Ravensbourne university to discover more about practice beyond tertiary education and how these communities develop accessible practice (or at least consider it) and their professional digital literacies. i was occasinally concerned at the evangelism of a few but generally impressed with the enthusiasm and innovative practices with those ‘let off the leash’ to develop something they had true belief in.

The event keeps Mozfest session notes available here so you can find many useful links to resources and projects without me having to repeat them. However, i would like to recommend their efforts for making it inclusive by recognising the incoming audience – the young developers who need inclusive language and not the baffling techno-babble so often used to reject newcomers to the territory.

My highlights were how OpenBadges were making inroads into presenting evidence for skills and abilities and how 3rd party services and plug-ins were reducing the pain to get started. The academic evidence of adopting the practice will follow in due course. From my TechDis perspective the Badges concept offers a way to illustrate users with disabilities can have equally valuable skills profiles to non-disabled students/workers. It will also focus effort on providing a more inclusive experience as the evidence of insufficient attention will be significantly visible amongst large co-horts. The SQA badges investigation was regarded as a significant win. Further progress is captured in Grainne Hamilton’s and the OBSEG blog.

The privacy track raised the alarm level for many tracking activities which the user can become more aware of through the recent Mozilla LightBeam plug-in. I didn’t have time for this track but it is clearly worth knowing as the myth of privacy becomes more exposed.

The sciences, Journalism, and Open Data were also very impressive – look for yourself but the attitude towards doing all this inclusively where possible was often refreshing. The natural emergent property of communities like this include the desire to welcome all to enable truly widespread products. I had many discussions with practitioners about what they would feed back towards their former institution and it generally condensed into better ways to stay in touch. Now we have the technology the only excuse is time, so a little effort to make this interaction valuable for both sides could go a long way. I did not pick up on any effective strategies with the Mozfest participants.

I’ll put something into the digital literacies in the disciplines blog about the specifics but I have to welcome Mozilla’s attitude to being more pro-active to make the web work globally for common interests for all.Image



About Terry

Techdis advisor interested in the realistic, sensible and pragmatic application of IT in education to improve the accessible learning experience.
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