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International Standard Matches Educational Resources with User Needs

New York, Apr 16, 2009

A new International Standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) will facilitate the use of educational resources to fit specific user needs.

ISO/IEC 24751:2008, Information technology – Individualized adaptability and accessibility in e-learning, education and training, is centered on the concept of a user’s “disability,” which is defined as anything that causes a mismatch between the learner’s needs and preferences and the learning experience being provided.

ISO provides this example for clarification: “[A]n individual who is blind is not disabled when the lesson is delivered in audio. However, an individual who does not have the necessary background knowledge to understand the lesson, or who is listening to the lesson in a noisy environment, is disabled. Thus, the needs and preferences of a user may arise from the user's context or environment, the technical requirements of the user's device, the tools available (e.g., assistive technologies such as Braille devices, voice recognition systems, alternative keyboards, etc.), the user's background, or a disability in the traditional sense.”

The standard defines “accessible” environments as those where the disability can be counteracted and the learner’s needs can be addressed or matched.

ISO/IEC 24751 contains three sections:

  • Part 1: Framework and reference model
  • Part 2: "Access for all" personal needs and preferences for digital delivery
  • Part 3: "Access for all" digital resource description

It was developed by ISO/IEC joint technical committee (JTC) 1, Information technology, subcommittee SC 36, Information technology for learning, education and training.

The U.S. leads JTC 1, with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) holding the secretariat and Karen Higginbottom acting as chairperson. The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) serves as the Administrator of the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to SC 36, and Bruce E. Peoples serves as chairperson. INCITS is an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

For more information on ISO/IEC 24751, see the ISO news item.

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