Do students have the right skillset for their future work?
With the new EU Web Accessibility Directive, thousands of public sector websites and digital services need to comply with European requirements on accessibility for all users, no matter of ability. But expertise is scarce, with only a few small suppliers in each country.
If users with disabilities are to get access to information and services on equal terms, general ICT-professionals with accessibility competence is highly needed. The regulations are already raising demand for professionals who can prove they have a competence in accessibility, but where are they to be found?
51 % of higher education institutions in the Nordic countries answering a recent survey claim not to offer any course modules on web accessibility.
Only 25 % of the courses on web accessibility that are actually held, are mandatory.
This means that many students will not be prepared for the demands of the job market.
-The result is surprisingly bad, considering that the respondents are probably more than average interested and aware about accessibility, says Susanna Laurin, Chief Research and Innovation Officer at Funka. If we were to have a randomized sample, the numbers might be even lower.
Even so, 70 % of the respondents who do not offer web accessibility courses answer “I don’t know” when asked why this is the case. This can of course have many reasons, but it leads us to believe that there is not a widespread knowledge about the legal requirements and how this will affect the market.
About the survey
In a project funded by Nordplus, the industry association of accessibility professionals IAAP Nordic, Laurea University in Finland, Lund University CERTEC in Sweden, Oslo Met in Norway, Denmarks Technical University and web accessibility experts Funka are aiming to promote and strengthen web accessibility education in the Nordic countries. This survey was performed to investigate the current situation. Project partners are also organizing workshops and events in the four countries to raise awareness and share best practices.
The survey was sent out to contacts in higher education based on lists from the project partners. This means the respondents have showed interest in accessibility before. It is hard to determine if the respondents are at the right level to answer the questions, they may not know about all courses at a large university. Some answers came from the same university which also blurs the picture. Finally, the number of answers from Denmark are much fewer than from the rest of the countries.
If you would like to know more, please contact
Project Manager, IAAP Nordic