AMAC Honored for Innovative Practice in Accessibility

AMAC member working on MOOC program.

By Will Greer | Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center (AMAC) will be recognized Thursday for Innovative Practice in Vienna, Austria, for producing a fully accessible MOOC on ICT and for web accessibility.

The Zero Project will honor AMAC for the ICT100x course on EdX’s platform. The course is being recognized as a 2018 Innovative Practice on Accessibility. This course teaches how to identify issues and design solutions for information and communication technology (ICT) accessibility for customers and employees with disabilities.

AMAC is a research center within Georgia’s Tech’s College of Design.

The Zero Project works closely with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD) to provide a platform for countries to share the most innovative and effective solutions to problems faced by people with disabilities.

 “The ICT Accessibility MOOC has created an innovative way to push the ICT accessibility conversation forward internationally. Being honored by the Zero Project reinforces our principle of ‘Creating the Next’ and we are looking forward to taking this momentum and building upon it with future collaborations. The Zero Project recognizing this innovative practice is the first of many steps in the right direction,” said Carolyn Phillips, AMAC’s interim director

Georgia Tech offered its first MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) in 2012. Since then, more than 1 million students have enrolled in Georgia Tech online courses. The collaboration between Georgia Tech and EdX honors the Institute’s continued expansion as a global leader in online learning.

AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center and Georgia Tech Professional Education produced and released the ICT MOOC in 2016.

Addressing The Knowledge Gap

For years, there has been a knowledge gap on how to create accessible materials. The repercussion of this imbalance has led to some people with disabilities being excluded from the workplace, the Internet, and other important facets of life.

Research shows that web designers, IT professionals, and most people producing web content had not acquired the knowledge and skills to make their work accessible.

As basic human needs have moved to an online space, equal access to things like paying a bill or finding a doctor have become more reliant on web accessibility.

The ICT MOOC addresses the gap by providing modules detailing some of the primary ICT accessibility obstacles facing organizations today. Each module is taught by a subject matter expert through content-rich videos, activities, and discussion forums.

Lucy Bennett, a designer at AMAC, pushes for more accessibility and inclusion.

Real World Results

Lucy Bennett (shown above) is the senior designer for AMAC. For the last year and a half, she’s been responsible for AMAC’s marketing media and works to make sure the Center is promoting itself with the same level of accessibility as its service provides.

She also began working as a leader in the design community to push for more accessibility and inclusion in the field for people with disabilities.

“I’ve always had the desire to be a leader in the design community, but didn’t feel I had the skill or unique experience to contribute. Once I began the ICT Accessibility MOOC and learning about universal design and the ways designers can benefit from the accessible ICT practices, I found a cause to be passionate about and a unique viewpoint to share with emerging designers,”  Bennett said.  

Through taking the ICT Accessibility MOOC, Bennett has been able to teach others about accessibility and how it can improve the human condition. She was invited to be a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Diversity & Inclusion task force. Shortly after receiving that invite, she was asked to participate in AIGA's first multi-chapter design thinking workshop by relaunching the workshop programming to help emerging designers.

Through the workshop relaunch, she said she’ll craft an accessible framework that will be used nationwide to empower a new generation of designers, giving them new opportunities for growth and inclusive leadership.