Micro-credentials: Educational Opportunity or Just Another Barrier to Education?


Presented at 9:15am in Independence on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.



  • Karen McCall, Accessible Document Design Consultant and Educator, Karlen Communications

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: General Conference


The latest “buzz phrase” in education is micro-credentials. However, Hile the EU and UK have a framework for quality, inclusive micro-learning opportunities, North America has not adopted the framework. Accessibility is often not part of the rush to get micro-learning content up and producing income. Micro-credentials are conceptually designed to provide what used to be called “Just in Time” training. Are they just another barrier to learning for those of us with disabilities?


Europe appears to be leading in the development and implementation of “micro-credential” learning opportunities. The European Union has a detailed framework for constructing micro-credential learning opportunities. There is even a detailed “Digital Education Action Plan”. Both documents include inclusive accessible learning. The province of Ontario Canada has begun the deployment of micro-credential learning opportunities without using the existing framework. This is important for two reasons: the accessibility of the micro-credentials and the ability to take micro-credentials from any global academic institution and create a customized learning experience/certificate/degree. The province of Ontario appears to be avoiding this global trend toward employability for those earning badges for micro-credentials. Additionally, there are badging companies that are emerging as the final say in student success. This removes responsibility from an academic institution for content and skill development. In the future, it may make academic institutions irrelevant. Academic institutions in North America are decades behind their counterparts in Europe and the UK. North America retains an archaic doctoral process that theoretically leads to tenure while tenure positions have been steadily declining in the past two decades to save money. Micro-credentials as they are beginning to be deployed in North America appear to be a bid to offset funding deficits due to COVID rather than as part of a global framework for learning anything, anytime, anywhere which students have been promised since the advent of online learning. The other unanswered question is whether students can combine badges from more than one badging company to create a certificate/diploma or degree. As with Just in Time training in the early 2000s, the deployment of micro-credentials as a substitute for formal education opportunities is leaving those of us with disabilities behind.


  1. Understand the EU/UK Framework for micro-credentials.
  2. Understand the EU/UK Framework for micro-credentials.
  3. Learn what a micro-credential is and how they are shaping the future of learning.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Administrative/Campus Policy, Alternate Format, Faculty Development & Support, Legal, Procurement, Teaching about Accessibility in Curriculum, Uncategorized, Universal Design for Learning

Speaker Bio(s)

Karen McCall

Karen McCall, M.Ed. has been working in the field of accessible document design since 1999. She began her career in website accessibility and auditing and moved to accessible Word, PowerPoint and PDF documents in 2004. Karen is:

A Canadian delegate of the ISO 14289 or PDF/UA (Universal Accessibility) committee and has been for a number of years. A Canadian delegate to the ISO 32000 PDF committee. A Microsoft MVP for Word (Most Valued Professional) since 2009. A Microsoft Accessibility MVP since 2017 when this category of MVP was established.

Karen has written several books on the topic of accessible document design for Word, PowerPoint and PDF documents as well as smaller publications with specific techniques for working with Office applications if you are using adaptive technology and/or the keyboard.

Karen is the president of Karlen Communications.