The Open Networking Lab Accessibility Project

The Open University

There is an urgent need to enable blind and visually impaired people to gain better access to the job market. Nationally, there are over 2 million people with sight loss, with 360,000 registered as blind or partially sighted. Approximately 25% of those with partial sight loss are employed, but this decreases to 10% for those who are blind. This project will allow visually impaired learners to acquire basic computer networking skills through the use of accessible network simulation software.

To achieve this the project will build upon and extend an established network simulation tool to offer an accessible interface for conducting network simulations, tailored to the needs of this community of learners.

The project is a collaboration between the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), members of the vision impaired and broader disability community, and accessibility specialists at The Open University (OU) to identify user requirements and test the new developments.

It is hoped that the use of innovative tech will level the playing field for people with special educational needs and disabilities – identifying the technology that best suits individual needs.