Accessibility and Pedagogy in eLearning

I am currently working on a paper for “Computers and Education” entitled: “E-learning, Accessibility & Pedagogy: In search of the missing tools of practice” By Jane Seale & Martyn Cooper.

This paper has the central argument that what we are seeking to achieve in accessibility in eLearning is access to the learning not primarily access to the technology.

Here are a few highlights from that paper:

  • Many accessibility related tools exist, but they do not seem to be having much impact on teachers and teaching practice in further and higher education
  • This variability in accessibility suggests that a different set of tools may be needed to help teachers develop their accessibility practice further
  • It is widely agreed that there is a link between effective pedagogy and effective use of technology.
  • Pedagogical tools are tools that mediate a teachers’ action, offering clear and detailed principles regarding learning that can be easily and readily translated into teaching practice

Two sets of pedagogical tools that are worth exploring further are models and theories of learning and learning design tools.

Different pedagogical models have different implications for accessibility and this is further discussed in the paper.  For example Laurillard has set forward a conversational model of teaching and learning.  (See: Laurillard, D. (1993) Rethinking university teaching, Routledge, London.)  This is often used to analyse the roles of different technical features in an eLearning context.  However it can as equally readily be used to analyse where accessibility accommodations are required and their nature.

The roles and responsibilities for educators (as opposed to technicians) in accessibility has previously been discussed in another paper of mine: “Cooper M., Making Online Learning Accessible – the role of the educator and issues for the educational institution – reflections on experiences at the Open University, Association of Learning Technology Journal (ALT-J), Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 103–115, March 2006.”

4 thoughts on “Accessibility and Pedagogy in eLearning

  1. Hi Martyn,
    I agree 100% with your argument. Working within the tertiary sector, I have come to the same conclusion: the technology is no longer the barrier; it’s the practices.
    I gave a presentation at OZeWAI illustrating some options that exist within an institution to “raise awareness” among the groups and services that support academics.
    I chose this angle, because it was the opinion of several senior academics that many lecturers do not want to be told their practices are quite possibly the last remaining obstacle to effective, inclusive education. So, if we can’t get to them directly, let’s try and surround them.
    eLearning, in particular, is an area that requires a lot of attention, because there seems to be a tendency to jump on the current trends, which may not necessarily be usable.
    I look forward to reading your paper when it’s done.

    All the best.

  2. HI Martyn, I’m really interested in seeing your paper. Is your research more literary or project-based? I’d love to share thoughts with you on accessible e-learning. In a month or so, I’m running a Usability and Accessibility Test with our College LMS’s and online courses. I posted a story about how I met this person who is visually impaired and just to watch him using JAWS to access a website it opened my eyes to design accessible content. As soon as the project is done I’m looking to post the results and I’d be really curious to have your opinion. Look forward to seeing your paper. thanks Julia (

    1. Julia,

      Thanks for your interest. I think I have to respect the journals copyright but as soon as the paper (now submitted) has been published I will notify you. You might like to follow me on Twitter if you indulge: martyncooper.



  3. The eventual paper which slightly changed direction and was retitled “Seale, Jane and Cooper, Martyn (2010). E-learning and accessibility: An exploration of the potential role of generic pedagogical tools. Computers and Education, 54(4), pp. 1107–1116.” is available at:

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