Since the law of 11 February 2005 on equal rights and opportunities, participation and citizenship for people with disabilities, disability policies have called for the “de-institutionalization” of students with disabilities for the benefit of inclusive education. Thus, according to the report on the implementation of the law of February 11, 2005 in the National Education (2012), 1065 visually impaired students of college were enrolled in ordinary class in 2010. However, these inclusion policies do not can work only if they are accompanied by educational facilities adapted to the specific needs of disabled students to overcome the difficulties encountered. In fact, the pedagogical situations associated with inclusion in the ordinary class not being initially thought out specifically for visually impaired students, the latter are faced with difficulties in particular in accessing, using and processing educational content (Sorin, Mojahid , Aussenac-Gilles, & Lemarié, 2013). Specific devices have therefore been put in place to overcome these accessibility problems such as the presence of school life auxiliaries (AVS), access to assistive technology and the possibility of benefiting from Braille transcription services or magnification of documents (Sorin, Lemarié, Dupuis, Mojahid, & Aussenac, submitted).
Currently, blind students have two main means of accessing written educational content (Spérandio, 2007): reading the document in Braille (transcribed manually or automatically) or listening to an oralized version. There are nevertheless difficulties in terms of accessibility due to the intrinsic constraints of these modes of restitution (eg a Braille transcription is much larger than the original document, reading a Braille document or listening to an oralized text takes more time, l ” automatic oralisation struggles to account for visually structured information, etc.) which have 2 major consequences, beyond the obvious problems of autonomy in access to knowledge.
A first major consequence is that the educational content treated by visually impaired students is reduced compared to that treated by other students. Thus, teachers select content deemed essential to teach so that it is made accessible to students.
A second consequence is that the mental requirements associated with accessing and processing the educational content thus transformed are important and there are few mental resources available to be allocated to the learning itself (comprehension, memorization, problem solving, etc. ). These difficulties translate concretely into a persistent fatigue of visually impaired students, a propensity to drop out as soon as parasitic elements arise and more generally a level of acquisition lower than their sighted peers. These problems can probably help to explain why people with visual impairment have a lower level of qualification overall than the general population and have an unemployment rate twice as high (according to the French Confederation for the social promotion of the blind and partially sighted, ).
If the in-depth study of these accessibility problems seems crucial to improve the learning of visually impaired students, the current technological context which is at the time of the development of digital educational resources constitutes an opportunity to be seized to consider better takes into account the specific needs of students. The Ministry of National Education also affirms that “the development of educational resources accessible to students with disabilities is at the heart of the ministry’s strategy to bring the school into the digital age”.
ACCESS-MAN aims to improve the accessibility of educational documents for visually impaired students in ordinary schools so that they can ultimately learn better.
In the field of education and learning, accessibility is the possibility for a student to access, understand and respond to educational content (Ketterlin-Geller & Tindal, 2008). Improving the accessibility of educational content requires removing the two scientific obstacles.
First of all, technologically speaking, speech synthesis and the Braille display coupled with a screen reader are the main devices used by blind people to access digital documents (Spérandio, 2007). If these technologies are sufficiently advanced to restore textual information in another modality, the efforts of current work in this area are turned towards improving the coverage of technology rendering, that is to say the amount of information restored compared to the information present in the original content. Also, the questions investigated relate to the representation and computerized processing of information devices that are hardly or not accessible: visual structuring indices (titles, menus, etc.) but also images, tables, diagrams. This work is part of an approach that could be described as exhaustive (Giraud, 2014) where the goal is to return all the information to the blind user.
While the comprehensive approach ensures that a student can complete the learning task as a sighted student, this approach does not ensure that the task is performed efficiently and satisfactorily for the blind or visually impaired student. Another approach therefore seems necessary, the so-called “holistic” approach which takes into account the “context in which users are used (difficulties, strategies, needs, etc.)” (Giraud, 2014, p.4). Indeed, the use of assistive technologies imposes a sequential access to the content of a written text which imposes an additional cognitive cost because it requires to implement mental processes of reconstruction of a global mental representation (of the structure document, for example) (Giraud, Uzan & Thérouanne, 2011). In addition, the use of auditory modality to reproduce verbal information can give rise to a negative effect of transient information (Leahy & Sweller, 2011): in sighted learners, the use of auditory modality, in essence fleeting, can lead to poorer learning performance than the processing of the same written information. If people with visual impairment benefit from compensation processes allowing them to be very efficient in the treatment of hearing modality, the fact remains that linearized access to information quickly saturates cognitive resources and leaves little room for the implementation of deeper cognitive processing.
One of the objectives of this project is therefore to identify the types of educational content that must be made accessible as a priority. This identification requires a closer assessment of the information needs of visually impaired students during a learning task.
Then, a second scientific barrier to be overcome is the search for solutions (technological or not) to offer visually impaired students modes of restitution of educational content that are compatible with their learning context (that is to say their needs , their constraints, their usual procedures for learning, etc.). Currently, this search for solutions is hampered by a lack of specific work on the reality of their accessibility needs and uses.