Digital equity and accessible MOOCs: Accessibility evaluations of mobile MOOCs for learners with visual impairments

Keywords: Digital Equity, Accessibility evaluation, Heuristic walkthrough, MOOCs, Mobile learning, learners with visual impairements


Despite the popular claim that massive open online courses (MOOCs) can democratise educational opportunities, this study suggests that current MOOC platforms are not designed to be accessible and inclusive for learners with disabilities. Our main goals in this study were to identify the needs and barriers that learners with visual impairments face when learning with mobile devices in MOOCs and to make recommendations for designing MOOCs that are more accessible and inclusive. We conducted this study in two phases: a user study (Phase I) and a heuristic walkthrough (Phase II). In Phase I, we conducted a user study with three university students with visual impairments to identify their needs and the barriers to learning that they encounter in mobile MOOC platforms. In Phase II, five evaluators conducted a heuristic walkthrough based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (World Wide Web Consortium, 2008) to examine the degree of accessibility of a MOOC platform. Overall, the results indicate that serious accessibility issues exist in MOOC platforms, preventing learners with visual impairments from fully participating in learning activities. We conclude this paper by recommending ways to design mobile MOOCs to make them more accessible for learners with visual impairments.


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Special Issue 2019 - Digital Equity