Do you teach a readings course or
other upper division or graduate course that makes extensive use of scanned
PDFs and Word docs? COLRS has noticed an increase in this type of document
storage in Canvas. Unfortunately, many
scanned PDFs do not adhere to accessibility requirements.
The Digital Accessibility
Remediation Team (DART) stands ready to help make sure all of your electronic
documents are fully accessible to students who require the use of screen
readers or other assistive technology. Recognizing that your time is valuable,
DART is equipped to remediate your electronic resources in Canvas with little
or no intervention on your part. Just let us know what you need, and we’ll
get to work! To get started, reach out to our accessibility coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most often, infographics are presented as images. For
image-based infographics, the main concerns are alternative text and color
contrast. You may be familiar with alternative text, which describes the content
of an image to someone using a screen reader. For infographics, alt text
involves fully providing the information described by the graphic. Where this
should be included depends on where the infographic is being presented.
If it’s in a Word or PowerPoint document, you can right click on the image and choose Edit Alt Text (if you’re in 365 or 2019) or choose Format Picture and find the alt text box in the Layout and Properties tab of the Format menu (For Office 2016).
If you’re including the image as part of an email, and
you’re using Outlook, you can include alt text the same way, by right clicking
and choosing Edit Alt Text. If you aren’t using Outlook or another client that
allows for the inclusion of alt text when inserting images, you should include
the text alternative in the email itself, add a link to the alt text, or add it
as an attachment.
If you’re posting it on a webpage, you can include the alt
text in the image tag as seen below:
src="infographic.png" alt="description of the infographic's
When writing the alt text itself, describe in the logical
reading order of the graphic the data described by each element. The form of
the element may be omitted if it isn’t important to understanding the image.
For example, here is an infographic describing student
demographics at UIS and its alt text:
Example ALT Text:
Infographic, Snapshot of the UIS Student Body (Fall 2019): UIS has 4275 total students, 66.1 percent of which are onground students, and 33.9 percent are online students. 17.2 percent are transfer students, 62.5 percent are undergrad students, and 37.5 percent are graduate students. 30.9 percent live in college housing. 44.6 percent are part time students and 55.4 percent are full time students.
51.6 percent of students are female and 48.4 percent are male.
Residency: 76.6 percent of students are Illinois residents; 14.6 percent are Non-Illinois residents; and 8.7 percent are International students.
620 students are under 19.
662 students are aged 20 to 21.
827 students are aged 22 to 24.
715 students are aged 25 to 29.
515 students are aged 30 to 34.
366 students are aged 35 to 39.
359 students are aged 40 to 49.
193 students are aged 50 to 64.
18 students are 65 or older.
2611 students are White.
557 students are Black or African American.
373 students are Non Resident Alien.
348 students are Hispanic or Latino.
197 students are Asian.
134 students are Two or More Races.
47 students are unknown.
6 students are American Indian or Alaskan Native.
2 students are Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
Here, none of the visual elements provided to make the image
more engaging to the eye are included, as they are superfluous and are not used
in a way to further convey the data expressed. Instead, the statistics are
simply described in text, with an effort to make the format they are read in
understandable to a listener. If any visual elements are important to the
understanding of the infographic, be sure to include those. An example might be
if one of the bars of the histogram was colored differently to highlight a
certain data value.
In terms of accuracy, try to provide the original statistics
if possible. I was able to include specific numbers for the charts at the
bottom of the graphic because I had access to the original data that formed
this document. If you don’t have such access, approximations are acceptable,
but note that you’re providing approximations rather than the actual values in
The colors used in your infographic should also have
significant contrast between them to ensure that sighted individuals with
visual impairments can still read the graphic. There are a number of tools that
allow you to check the contrast of a foreground and background color like this WCAG color contrast checker, or apply
filters to see what an image looks like with different forms of color blindness,
If the infographic is instead a document like a PDF or
PowerPoint that is made up of individual elements, there are other
considerations beyond those listed above. Primarily, the elements should read
in an order that is not confusing and complements the content.
The accessibility checker in Office programs is located under File > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility. You can use this to see if there are other issues with the document than are listed here. When you select an issue, there is a description at the bottom of the pane of why the issue occurred and how to fix it.
In PowerPoint, you can see the reading order by opening the Selection Pane (Home > Arrange > Selection Pane). The elements will be read from the bottom to the top of the selection pane. Drag and drop elements within this pane to reorder the way they will read.
For elements like charts, that have data integrated, they will read the data in a tabular format, and don’t require special considerations. Text items should be added in a content block rather than a text box, because text boxes can sometimes have issues with not being read properly. To add more content blocks, open the Slide Master (View > Slide Master) copy a content block on the current layout, and paste it in for as many elements as you need to add.
You can then reapply the layout by choosing it from the Layout dropdown in the Home tab, and add your elements into the content blocks.
Graphical items should have alternate text that describes
their content, and if they’re decorative, you can check the “Mark as
Decorative” box in the alt text pane.
Checking accessibility in PDF is a little more complicated
than other filetypes. There are two tools that you may need to use to ensure an
accessible PDF. First, use the Accessibility Check option from the
Accessibility tool. The issues will be displayed in the left pane. You can
right click and choose Explain, and it will open the Adobe help page explaining
the error and how you might fix it.
If you get an issue for Untagged PDF, you need to run the Make Accessible wizard from the Action Center tool. Follow the dialog boxes to complete the wizard. When it asks for the document information, all of the fields are optional except for Title. It will ask if you would like to scan for form fields and the default option is to do so. Don’t choose this option; choose No, Skip this Step. You will likely have a point where it presents you with boxes to add alt text to any images it recognizes. I suggest just choosing Save and Close here, ensuring the reading order is correct, and then going back to alt text at the end by right clicking on one of the alt text issues and choosing Fix.
Similar to PowerPoint, reading order is the most important accessibility concern in PDFs. The easiest way to categorize elements and change their reading order is in the Order panel. You can right click on the left toolbar and choose Order if it isn’t shown already.
Here, each element will have a box around it labeled with a number in the order that they will read aloud to a screen reader. Each element is also listed in order in the left side pane. You can reorder elements within that pane. To regroup elements or change an element’s tag, open the menu at the top of the pane and choose “Show Reading Order Panel”.
This will open a dialog, and you will now be able to drag a box on the document to select elements. You can also click on an existing tagged element to select it as a whole. After you’ve selected what you want to tag, click the corresponding button in the dialog box. One thing to note is this will affect the layering order in the PDF, so an element that reads earlier will be above an element that reads later. If something is decorative and sitting in front of another element, you can tag it as background/artifact and adjust its visual ordering by using the Arrange options in the Edit PDF tool.
This is an example of an accessible PDF infographic. You can see the reading order given by the numbers next to each element. Most of this graphic was simply text, and so didn’t need special considerations beyond ensuring that they read in a logical manner. Each of the pictures has alt text, and the bars of the bar graph are also alt texted with their value, so the bar graph would read the label and then the corresponding value. Note that none of the decorative elements are included in the reading order because their presence is not necessary to understand the information presented.
This summer we have had several improvements to videos. Videos are hosted in Kaltura, though most of you probably thought of the videos as “living” in Blackboard. They now “live” in Canvas, but still on Kaltura. We’ve also changed some of the back-end so that auto captioning is even more accurate. This will save you some time fixing those few things the computer was unable to parse out.
When you login to Canvas and select your course you have the option “My Media” If you click on that you will be able to see all your videos already in Kaltura, as shown in the photo below. At the top near right there is an option to “add new”. If you select that you can upload any video files you have.
Once you have selected “add new” you will see the screen below. You are given the option to either drag and drop your file or choose the file on your computer.
Once you have uploaded a video you will see the screen below. You can also access this screen when you first login to My Media. On the far right of the screen by each video there is a small grey graph, pencil, and trashcan. Selecting the pencil which is the edit screen will also take you to this screen. From this screen you have the option to “Launch Editor”. This editor will allow you to do some light editing to the video
When you select “Launch Editor” you will see a screen like the one below. It will give you time codes and you can goto a spot to to split the video or delete sections. This can be useful if you had a few “oops” moments.
After you are happy with your video you can then work on captions. Captions will be auto generated using an AI. They will come out at around 90% accuracy. Then you need to edit them. Once processed you can goto My Media and click on the video. You will then see the screen below. Below the video is a dropdown menu called actions, select it.
The dropdown menu will expand with several options, select caption and enrich as shown below.
You will then see the existing requests and status completed. To the right of status is a grey pencil to edit, select it.
Now you will be in the captions editor. You can correct anything the AI was unable to catch and add proper punctuation. You can also add speakers if you had an interview or several speakers in the video. Once you are done, remember to select save. You can come back and edit captions later.
A final thing to check is to goto My Media and then select the grey edit button on the far right. Under the video there is an option for captions, select it. You will then see the caption file or .srt. On the far right of action you want to make sure that “show on player is selected. It is the furthest option on the right. If you do not select this, your captions will not show up when you embed your video.
If you are using a video on YouTube which you didn’t create and is not captioned, you can use a secondary website like Amara. Amara allows the video to remain located at YouTube, but allows you to route the video through their site and add the captions at Amara, so there is no copyright issue. You can even search Amara to see if your video has already been captioned there.
Fall 2020 will be unlike any Fall semester any of us has known. Coming off a remote learning Spring and still in the middle of a pandemic, many courses will be taught using zoom this Fall. For those who will be using zoom for live sessions here are the recommendations from COLRS
Please record your session and as soon as possible after the session has ended upload it to Kaltura within Canvas.
Campus IT has enabled autocaptioning of uploaded videos. This means that after your zoom session (or other recorded media) is uploaded an AI engine will create captions for the video. The accuracy will be somewhere near the 90% mark.
We will have a banner (image below) across all videos which reads, “If captions of this video are required, please contact captions@UIS.edu.”
For those students who require captions at the higher 99% accuracy COLRS will monitor this email and be working to help provide those captions in a timely manner.
As we near the end of this semester, we are getting closer to moving our classes from Blackboard to Canvas. From an accessibility standpoint this is a GREAT time to do several things. The first is to clean up and remove any files from Blackboard that you don’t use anymore. The second is to take the opportunity to make sure the files you are using are accessible. To help with this, the digital accessibility remediation team of student workers will be working over the summer. If you would like them to help make your files accessible please contact COLRS.
If you already have a student with a documented disability with the Office of Disability Services, please consider their unique learning needs as you adapt to a virtual classroom. However, twenty-five percent of the population has some form of physical, learning, or cognitive disability so you may have a student with a need and you are unaware of it. A virtual classroom environment may create learning challenges for students who may not have those challenges in a face-to-face environment. COLRS has accessibility resources and a searchable accessibility blog that provides guidance on improving the accessibility of digital content.
As you prepare your course for teaching remotely, here are some basic accessibility tips
If you have the choice between sharing a Word document and a PDF, choose Word.
If you have the choice between sharing a PowerPoint and a PDF, choose PowerPoint.
If you are creating new Word or PowerPoint files open the accessibility checker. You can then see if there are any issues, see directions on how to correct the issues, and correct them as you go.
If you are creating a video, speak slowly and keep the video short. Speaking slowly can improve the accuracy of the auto captioning in Kaltura. Directions on how to correct Kaltura captions.
For additional assistance in improving the accessibility of your virtual classroom, please contact the COLRS Campus Accessibility Specialist. The Digital Accessibility Remediation Team is able to help you make your digital content accessible remotely.
In the last week we have seen immense change to our daily lives, and change which continues or of which we are reminded with every email, from every possible source down to how your gas station perks program is handling the virus. From a teaching and learning standpoint there have been varied reactions as veteran online educators and those who have never taught online are now required to teach remotely. So one let me say, to myself and you, relax we will get through this. And two let’s remember accessibility as we make these remote changes.
Accessibility? Yes, accessibility. About 25% of the population has some form of disability, physical, learning, or cognitive. Typically, about 10% of our students register with their office of disability services regarding one of these disabilities. This means as we move to remote teaching, many of these students will experience issues related to accessibility which they may not have in our face to face classes. So thinking about accessibility as we make these changes will not only help these students, but all students who are making this move.
So here are a few things to think about.
Don’t use or limit use of pdfs. Typically in higher education we see 2 types of pdf usage, items “saved as” pdf and article scans. If it is a Word or PowerPoint file, do not save as pdf, just post the doc or ppt. If it is an article scan, see if you can find an .html version of the article or contact someone at your university to see about making this accessible (if possible).
If you are creating new PowerPoint or Word files, open the accessibility checker as you are creating them to see any issues and correct them as you go, eventually you will probably not make any issues as you go. The biggest culprits will be improper hyperlinks (www.something instead of these nice blue, underlined links describing the link) or merged table cells in a Word doc. In a PowerPoint it will probably be missing alternative text.
If you are creating a video, speak slowly and make the video short. Speaking slowly will help all listeners understand better. You will need to caption your video and provide a transcript. Or you can write a script and record your video from it. In most instances this will involve leveraging some sort of AI such as that used by YouTube or the one in Kaltura. This autocaptioning is about 85% accurate, the rest needs to be done by a human. A video with clear, slow speaking will autocaption with a higher accuracy rate, and a shorter video takes less time to caption overall. Equally, as I’ve discussed before students in an online class or newly exposed to remote learning are not going to watch a long video.
Finally, I know this adds an extra layer of things to think about, however I think we can all agree that making something as clear for our students to understand the first time makes it easier on all of us. I’ll close with a link to something I wrote a few weeks ago about how students expect a certain behavior from their digital files, a user experience, and when they don’t encounter that it is very frustrating.
Office 365 by default has some of the accessibility checker functions disabled. However, they can be enabled. Most of those who are currently using 365 at UIS are doing so on their own laptops or at home. For these individuals we recommend doing final accessibility checking on an Office 2016 machine. If it is your laptop, IT can help you install a registry key which will enable the 2016 level of checking in 365.
IT will ensure this is enabled on new machines which receive Office 2019 which are maintained by them. It is possible to do a global push of these settings, but this is not currently what we will do at UIS since most of the machines with 365 are not university owned.
I have a wonderful team of student workers who do remediation of documents and video captioning. Recently two examples of their angst as students, highlighted the benefits of thinking about user experience and universal design for learning by making content accessible.
One of my students has a second job, and at that job she is allowed to quietly do online homework. This means she can watch captioned videos only. For one class, she was required to watch around 20 hours of video, however it didn’t have captions, not even auto generated captions. For a student who has personally captioned several hundred hours of video, she was more than a little upset with her professor. She is just trying to make the most of her time, and do her assignments, not having captions impeded that.
Another student, sent me a message the other day that she could not highlight some text in a pdf to copy to her notes. She’s working on a paper and thought a few sentences from the required reading really nailed the point. I knew that the pdf had not had any accessibility work done, so I told her to download it, go through the first few steps of making it accessible, and then copy the required quote, which worked.
In both these cases the students don’t need the files to be accessible because they have a a physical, learning or cognitive disability. They are used to files working a certain way because they do this work at least 20 hours a week, and they are busy people. In their attempts to do their real work, as students, they were inhibited from learning. Yes, accessibility certainly benefits students who may have a hearing or visual impairment. However, if we make content accessible, universally design our classes for all learners, and think about the user experience it will benefit all our students.
January 24, 2020 / vmart02s / Comments Off on Office 365 v Office 2016: When it comes to accessibility let’s stick with 2016, for now.
I have a team of student workers who remediate a lot of files in Word, PowerPoint, PDF, and videos. Many of these files come from faculty as we work on their classes, but we’re working on a growing number of files from campus offices. I too, work on some specific, special cases.
Recently, I’ve had several instances where a file had known issues, but the faculty member or office staff swore that they had used the accessibility checker and there were no issues. With some very low level sleuthing I figured out that everyone with these issues was using office 365. This led me to copying or recreating some of these issues, checking them in Word or PowerPoint 2016 and Office 365. Sure enough the issues were not caught in 365, but they were caught in 2016. I used NVDA to read these test documents, and as expected they were still issues. I contacted several colleagues and they too noted that these were issues.
Since most people are not experts in accessibility, and using the built in checkers is the safe guard that many faculty and office staff are learning and using, it is my recommendation for faculty and staff at UIS and within the UI system, to do their final accessibility checking in Word or PowerPoint 2016.
I am confident that Microsoft will remedy this in Office 365 in the future, but until that date, for accessibility, let’s stick with 2016.
Currently, I am finishing the book Haben, by Haben Girma. She is the first deaf-blind person to graduate from Harvard Law. The book ties her story growing up deaf-blind in the US with the heritage and struggles of her parents coming from Eritrea, in eastern Africa. For me, this work merges with several other works I’ve read this year on empires, oppression, race in America, religion in America, and several LGBTQ biographies. And the theme that emerges from these works is weariness.
Weariness, really? Yes, weariness. Imagine, that on a daily basis you were judged not by the content of your character, but by the color of your skin, the way you practiced religion, the person you were attracted to, or your physical abilities. Because of this you had to constantly be on guard, to watch how you acted in case you were judged more harshly than others. And frequently you were asked to share your experiences with others, to explain how you felt, so they might be able to get a sense of what you experience. But too often your own experiences were questioned, discounted, deemed invalid. With all of that you still need to go to school, work, be involved in family and organizations. That is the level of weariness which I see.
So for 2020, I’d like to think about reducing this weariness. I encourage people to read books on similar topics, and believe the author’s experiences. Do your own research to determine the struggles others have. And from an accessibility standpoint think about the power you have to make your corner of the world more accessible. Use Word documents instead of PDFs. Run the accessibility checker within Word. Run the accessibility checker in PowerPoint. Provide captions and transcripts for your videos. Think about how you can leverage your position to make a larger corner of your world accessible. Can you contact the textbook publishers, and check on the accessibility of their software? Can you ask for help in determining whether websites are accessible? Can you contact people to make the websites accessible? Do you know what software you use on a daily basis, and is it accessible? Are you in a position to question people about improving the accessibility of that software, or finding accessible software?
Over the weekend Harvard’s lawyers finally came to a decision over the almost five year issue of captions, they have a consent decree. What does the decree say? In the matter of violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Harvard denies the allegations. However, Harvard agrees to caption any video or audio content created by Harvard or posted on their sites after Dec 1, 2019. And for any audio or video content produced before that date, they are willing to provide captions if they receive a specific request by an individual with a disability.
This was one of several cases brought by the National Association of the Deaf. Previous agreements were reached with Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix all during or prior to 2016. So why is this case important? It has dragged on for almost five years, and been seen as a test case. As Harvard goes, so goes the nation. So while Harvard is able to deny the allegations, the end result is the same, they will caption their new audio and video content. With the recent Dominoes case, businesses and educational institutions will be very concerned about their website accessibility. With this consent decree, schools with smaller budgets will be more concerned about making their video content accessible. Harvard has presumably dodged a very large or expensive bullet, not having to immediately caption any of the large catalog of videos they were sitting on prior to December 1. However, this is a win for accessibility. One of the oldest, and most storied institutions of higher education in the United States is now complying with accessibility laws, whether they deny it or not.
I must confess when I began using PowerPoint about 19 years ago, I would right click on a slide and paste an image, then resize it. I believe back then I could also right click and create a textbox to add a title or content, and resize it as well, let’s call this the “outdated method” . With many of the PowerPoints we see today I think that same thing is occurring. However, let me introduce you to using layouts.
In PowerPoint 2016 for PC you can access this feature on the insert tab, on the far left there is a new slide option with a drop down menu. This will give you about 9 different options for slide layouts. My guess is the two most commonly used are the “title and content” or the “two content” options.
In PowerPoint 2016 for Mac you can access this from the home tab, on the near left there is a new slide drop down menu. From there you will have the same options as for the PC.
If you select the title and content, you have a pre-made box which you can enter the title of the slide. You also have a content box, which will allow you to enter text, a table, a graph, smart art, a picture, or a video, just by clicking in the box for text, or clicking on the corresponding icon within the content box.
By using this layout you have solved one of the common accessibility problems, reading order. This means that a screen reader can intuit, from your use of the pre-made layouts that you would like the title read first, and the content text, image alt text, or table read next. If you use a two content layout it will know which order to read as well, title, content box one, and content box two. If you create slides using the outdated method, a screen reader will not be able to read the content in a necessarily logical order. As an added bonus if you use the layout features and need to convert the PowerPoint to an outline format, the titles and content text will transfer. If you use the outdated method, none of the content will transfer over.
What about slides where you just want a large picture, or you cut and past the same title over and over, perhaps “Civil War”? From a universal design standpoint, a unique title per slide will allow students to reference the slide on discussion boards, in class, or with classmates. Referencing the “Pickett’s Charge” slide is more precise, and helpful, than referencing that “Civil War slide, in the middle somewhere”.
And I promised this would save time, right? Using slides that already have these title and content boxes built in will save you several extra clicks per slide. If we think about 2 clicks per slide for the 10,000 slides we’ve worked on (estimating 1 second per click), that would save about 2 hours and 45 minutes, enough to enjoy a film in the theater.
And finally, if you use the layouts, and decide that you would like to change the design or look of the slides, using the built in layout will allow that to occur more fluidly, with less resizing and moving on your part. An image placed on a blank slide with “insert picture” will not move based on slide design, one placed in the content box will move with different design templates.
Time is the commodity, which none of us seems to have enough of. For those who make their own class videos, I’d like to save you some time. Based on most cloud based video services, the average watch time of a video is 2:03. When we’re thinking about educational videos I like to think of this as the maximum per video in an introductory or 100 level course, perhaps adding about 2 minutes per course level maxing out at around 10 minutes. However, different disciplines may have different student demographics, and for those faculty I’d like to show you a way to check out how much your students are watching.
When you first login to BlackBoard, on the left, usually at the top is the My Media option, click on it.
You will then see a list of your media you use in your class, select one of the videos to click on. Either click on the video or the video title.
Below the video on the right is a back button and an actions drop down menu, select the actions drop down menu and select analytics.
You will then see the analytics for the video.
There is some interesting data about the video, which is about 27 minutes. It has been visited 29 times, and played 24 times. To protect student information I am not showing that on the right of the analytics screen you can see which students played the video, and the number of times they did so. Several students played the video a few times.
I think the most useful piece of information here is that the students stop watching about 38% of the way through the video, at 10:43. About 16 minutes of the video is unviewed. So how can I use this data to improve my videos, and help my students learn more? I can do one of two things:
I can edit and split this video into three smaller videos of about nine minutes each which should be lower than the 10:43 overall. Then next semester see if the average view time overall for the three videos has increased.
I can see what I am covering in the video, and rerecord it in one smaller segment or several smaller segments aiming for each to be under 10:43. Then next semester see if the average view time overall for those videos has increased.
So where does the time savings come in? If we know the average overall time our students are watching our videos and we make them within that range, then can save that time to create a shorter, better video they will be more likely to watch entirely.
And to bring this back to accessibility I’d like to point out two things:
If you’re reshooting your videos, please think about adding audio descriptions to the video. In practice this means if you’re using images, , talking through a PowerPoint, or walking through something on your computer in the video describe what you are doing.
It usually takes around three times the runtime of a video to accurately caption it. So a ten minute video takes about thirty minutes to caption, an hour video, three hours. If we make more succinct videos the captioning time overall is decreased.
A final note. On the analytics screen in the upper right there is a dropdown menu which should default to 30 days. You can choose the amount of time the analytics cover. So if you are looking back on a Fall video, select Last 365 days, if you’ve used it for several years use the custom setting and go back as far as you want.
I have worked on, and sat through many videos which are, to a certain extent, improv. This means that the creator sat down cold, and began recording all in one sitting. The video portion could have a talking head, or a PowerPoint, a screen recording, a drawing, or even show some sort of event or chemical reaction. In a video like this there could be a lot of filler words like um, ah, ok, a… Or perhaps there are interjections based on occurrences during the recording such as running out of ink, trying to find the proper tab for a function in the software, or yelling at someone in the house that the laundry is upstairs. For the student this can be distracting. And for those of us who don’t like hearing our own voices in a recording, it can make us cringe even more to hear, in our own voice, “someone let the dog out, um ah, where was I?”
An effective way to decrease these instances is to write a script for the video. Take the time to write down what you plan to say. Edit it a few times. And then read the script during the recording. Depending on your setup, you may want to print it out or have it displayed on an extra monitor. I recommend increasing the font size so it is easier to read as well. Doing this will decrease the ums, ahs, and oks. It cannot prevent a barking dog, but it can allow you to scrap the recording with the barking dog, and not worry about where you were to say what you meant to say. It will also give you an initial transcript of the video. Depending on how you are captioning your videos, you might also be able to upload the transcript and allow your video hosting platform to sync it.
In the 1980’s, Dominoes created a mascot called the Noid (pictured above), a super-villianesque character clad in a red jumpsuit. His goal was to ensure your pizza wasn’t hot or delicious. Today the company that gave us the Noid is in the news over an accessibility lawsuit.
Three years ago a blind customer wanted to order a pizza online, and was unable to do so using screen reading software. This customer filed a claim against Dominoes under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Over the last three years this case made its way to federal court. The federal court decided that customers could bring suits against companies for inaccessible websites and mobile aps. Dominoes appealed the case to the Supreme Court, who decided yesterday not to hear the case, which means the federal court ruling stands. For accessibility rights this is a win. For many large companies this will be a major concern.
However, it shouldn’t be. According to the court documents Dominoes could have made the website accessible for $38,000, their revenue last year was $3.5 billion. It is probable that the legal fees for Dominoes were higher than the $38,000. The lesson for other companies and educational institutions should be, it is cheaper to make content accessible in the long run. A greater lesson is that universally designing websites, videos, and documents is not only in the best interest of the consumer, but of the company. By designing in this way, we can all avoid the Noid of inaccessibility.
Alternative text or alt-text, is a tough issue for some people to wrap their heads around. In general, it is a description of a picture, table, or graph in a webpage, Word doc, PowerPoint, or PDF. In the past I wrote a primer on alt-text. When we think about math or science, alt-text can become more difficult as sometimes the equations themselves are the image, and need to be described in mathematical or scientific language. Last spring I wrote about the site wide license we acquired for Equatio which can help with some of these issues.
However, I still receive questions, often from people in math and science, about how to write alt-text for an exam when the alt-text might be the correct answer for the question. Sometimes the solution is revamping the question to cover the same idea, but in a slightly different manner. Other times, the solution is more difficult. The NWEA Image Description Guidelines for Assessments should help in these instances. This 116 page guide covers many typical charts, diagrams, and equations used in Math and Science exams, and how to develop good alt-text which will not give away the answer.
I have taught online classes since 2003, and back then we were often told to make our content into a PDF. That way it could be read by anyone, no matter what type of system they had. That advice has been handed down over the years and become canon, thou shalt post things as a PDF.
However, when it comes to document accessibility, we should not follow canon. PDFs are highly problematic for screen reader users. Some PDFs, like a scanned document, are not initially accessible to screen readers. Remediation can be done to these files, but it takes training and time. When training my student workers it takes about 35 hours to fully train them on PDF remediation. Documents initially written in Word and saved as a PDF have a higher probability of being read by a screen reader, but without some remediation it will still be difficult. For instance a user may have to listen to the whole document to get to the last page, rather than navigating there by using headers.
So what is the answer? If you are posting content in an LMS or on a webpage the best thing to do is post the content as html or as a page within the LMS. The next best thing to do would be to post the content as a Word file, attached or linked. Of course use the accessibility checker to make sure everything is accessible in the Word file. At this point in workshops I am often asked a few questions. The first is what about scans. Scans can be made accessible, my suggestion is to work with the library and they can put your scan on e-reserve and make it accessible for you. The second is, anybody can open a PDF, that’s not true with Word, is it? If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat you have to download Acrobat Reader. If someone doesn’t have Word they can download doc viewer from Microsoft. (Or PowerPoint viewer or Excel viewer) And for students on our campus, they all have access to Office 365. The third is, I don’t want anyone to edit my file, and they can’t with PDF, right? Actually they can edit your PDF, everyone on campus has access to Acrobat and if someone wanted to edit your PDF they could. But, you can lock your Word file to mostly achieve the same intended end. You can follow the directions from Microsoft on locking a Word file.
There is still a small place for PDFs. However, in most instances all of the same information can be shared in a webpage or a Word file.
If you are getting ready to teach online for the first time, there are several critical items to consider:
What are my learning outcomes or intended course objectives?
While there are several theories or models of online instruction that may be helpful as you begin to conceptualize and design your online course, many instructors find it helpful to begin with backward design, in which you first consider the learning goals of your course (i.e. what you want your students to have learned when they finish your course). Only after you have determined what your goals are, should you begin to think about assignments and activities that help students achieve those goals. Objectives and outcomes should be measurable and aligned to professional standards in your field.
Who are my students?
Universities serve an increasingly diverse array of students from the traditional college aged, to adult learners who come back to school to advance in their professions by acquiring new skills and knowledge. As you consider your audience, think about how you might develop assignments and activities that encourage self-determined learning (i.e. a heutagogical approach).
How can I make sure my course materials are accessible to all students?
Employing principles of universal accessibility and design means that your course content will be accessible to all student who might enroll in your course, including students with visual, auditory, or other impairments. Additionally, it means that you have taken the extra step to ensure that your content reaches students with a variety of different learning styles; this means using varying formats and methods to impart knowledge.
While this may seem like a challenge, COLRS staff is ready to assist. Please contact your individual liaison for individual consultation, or contact our main office for any further assistance you may need:
An issue we frequently have is that a faculty member has a great video on YouTube which they use for class, but the captions aren’t anywhere near the necessary 99% accuracy they need.
Now you can use DIY Captions. Once you goto the page scroll down to the second search box which allows you to enter a URL.
Paste in a link to a public YouTube video which has captions, and hit enter. Depending on the length of the video it could take a few seconds to a few minutes. You will then see a screen which looks like this with the video, an editable box, and the transcript on the right.
You will be able to play the video, and see the transcript. The captions appear one line at a time which allows you to quickly edit them, or hit tab to continue if, or once they are correct. Once you are done you can select the dropdown menu to download the caption file.
The time tagged file (.srt) is the caption file, and the the plain text (.txt) right above it is the transcript file. You should download both, and upload the transcript near where you link to the video. If you select the Open Video in Amara from the dropdown menu it will open the video in Amara , and you can upload the caption file. The video is hosted through YouTube and displayed through Amara with the accurate captions. You will need to use the Amara URL when you link to it in your classes.
For those who would like to make their conference presentations more accessible or understandable, Microsoft has recently released an add-in for PowerPoint. By following the hyperlink you’ll find the first item on the page is “presentation Translator for PowerPoint” Download Now. Click Download. You’ll then be taken to a new page with a dropdown menu for your language, and next to it another download button. At this point there are 10 language options. Select your language, click Download. This will now download the add-in, once it has downloaded, select it from your browser’s download area to begin the install. Depending upon your current configuration you may be required to download a few extra Microsoft-add ins as well. Then you can open your PowerPoint, and under the Slide Show tab you should have a new option on the far right, “start subtitles”. Click it.
You can now select what language you will be speaking and the
language you would like for subtitles. At
this point if you select that you are speaking German and would like German
subtitles, you will get German subtitles.
You are able to do this for any of the 10 language options.
If you select you are speaking Chinese and would like English
subtitles you will get English subtitles. You are able to convert Chinese to English and
English to Chinese only at this point in the live subtitles.
However, once the PowerPoint opens you will have a QR code which you can share with your audience. By using the QR code your audience can follow the presentation on their device seeing a live translation into any of the other 8 languages. So if you are speaking in German, with German subtitles, the audience can view the translation on their mobile device or laptop in English. The audience is also able to ask questions via their device in their language and have the question translated.
At this point the software only works on the PC version of PowerPoint, and you must have an internet connection, and a microphone. The subtitling is done by an AI engine and is about 80-85% accurate. It will become more accurate the more you use it, if you continually use the same device. This should not be used for making recorded course videos as the captions cannot be corrected to 99% accuracy nor turned off. This is an excellent tool for live presentations, or presentations with different language speakers.
Over spring break we acquired a site wide license for digital math software Equatio. This means any faculty, staff or students with UIS email can download the software. This gives you a two and half minute overview of the software. The software is designed for STEM fields which use equations allowing input by typing, writing, or dictating equations. The software can also read out equations in a paused video, a PDF, Word form, or almost any digital format. In the coming weeks we’ll talk about ways to use this software to help with accessibility as well. This week I’d just like to let you know how to download it.
Scroll down to the first section and you will see a choose your platform button. Click the button
When you click on the choose your platform button you will have four options: Windows, Mac OS, Chrome, and a webapp. Select the version you would like to install then click the install button. For this walk through we are selecting windows.
You will then have a new window which will allow you to download for Windows or Mac, for this walkthrough are selecting Windows.
Since Chrome is the browser the file has downloaded to the bottom left hand corner, the EquatioIO.exe file.
When you select the file, a new screen will pop up asking you to accept and install, click accept and install.
Another screen will popup asking you how you would like to authorize your account. For UIS you can click either Microsoft or Google. On the screen which pops up, not shown, please enter your UIS email address.
This will take you to the final screen where you can enter your NetID and password.
Equatio is now installed. Please check out the Equatio website for more on how to use the software.
presented at the 44th annual ICCHE conference
on the work of our student accessibility workers, and it seems fitting to share
some of the results of this work with UIS faculty and staff. UIS made a bold statement
by hiring a team
of student workers to assist my
office with the task of institutional accessibility in
February 2018. By mid-March four students were hired, and began their training.
The student worker team launched the accessibility
work in late March.
2018, College Deans provided priority class lists for accessibility
work. Faculty received communication through
my office regarding
how to submit files and students began work.
After much monitoring, shuffling, and
training on the spot for difficult files, together, we all learned ways
to more fully provide accessibility services to all of our students. Many
faculty worked with me to build
opportunities for future
students to have accessible files. Most of our work focused on making Word, PowerPoint,
and PDFs accessible for screen reader users. We also provided captions for
videos. Over this semester the Accessibility Team was able to complete:
919 total files
files – 2,018 total pages
files – 4,921 total pages
PowerPoint files – 2,376 total slides
56 Videos –
16:14:08 total run time
Over the summer faculty continued to work on accessibility issues, and the library expanded their accessibility work with our office, as well. As I mentioned at the end of last semester the library
began making their scanned course reserves accessible. This has
been a major move as it allows faculty to have one place to contact to get
their materials scanned, made accessible, and posted for online access.
In Fall 2018, we brought 2 new student workers on board which required additional training. We also were able to add to our service offerings a bit. As discussed last year, audio descriptions are required for videos. We are now adding audio descriptions where possible, and making notes of the need for audio descriptions when not possible. The Team is also providing transcripts along with the caption files. Over this semester The Accessibility Team was able to complete:
840 total files
files – 5,256 total pages
files – 683 total pages
PowerPoint files – 5,168 total pages
119 Videos –
58:17:15 total run time
We had a
substantial decrease in the Word files received which is
credited to all of the faculty who attended
workshops, reached out, or came to COLRS for one-on-one consultations with
the Accessibility office within the last
year. To faculty who are making accessibility of digital documents
for their students a priority, thank you!
And in this semester, along with continuing work on courses, we’ve been doing work for some of the OER fellows to make the materials they are adopting or writing accessible for all users. These efforts have pushed the skills of the student workers to a new level. The Accessibility Team has now made an entire textbook accessible for one of the OER faculty fellows teams. So thanks for the excellent effort: Alana, Brandon, Daniela, and Kayla.
In the past we have looked at how to use the accessibility checker built into Word. It highlights issues and explains how to fix them. We’ve also looked at how tables should be laid out properly. A common issue with tables – that PC users of Word using the accessibility checker will see – is that the table must have alternative text and a specified header row in order to be considered accessible. Alternative text for a table should usually list the items in the header row. With a syllabus, for example, this might be something like week, reading, and due date. It gives a screen reader user an idea of what is in the table. Specifying the header row allows a screen reader user to know that the top row lists the type of information which will appear in the following rows. For example: One, Two, and Three corresponding to Week One, Week Two, and Week Three.
However, if you are creating Word files on a Mac, these issues will not be highlighted. So, if you are a Mac user and have tables in your Word documents there are two things you could do:
Open those files in Word on a PC, run the accessibility checker, and fix them.
On the Mac you can “control-click” on the table and open the table properties. In table properties, click on the Row tab and make sure “repeat as header row at the top of each page” is checked. Then click on the Alt-text tab, enter the alt-text in the description box, and finally, click “ok”. (For PC users, follow these same steps, but right click on the table to get to table properties)
As the Fall semester is ending, I’m sure some of us are thinking about the holidays and winter break. But, spring semester is right around the corner!
For instructors who know that you will need to scan book chapters or articles, please take advantage of Course eReserves through Brookens Library to plan for your spring needs.
It’s an easy request: Fill out the course reserve form. Then the library produces some very fine scans of those materials and makes them accessible.
The Brookens Library staff began making all Course eReserves accessible for the Fall 2018 semester. This added service does add some time to the process, which is why I encourage you to think about those materials for next term now.
Recently we conducted a survey of department chairs concerning accessibility. The greatest number of respondents were interested in handouts on how to make specific file types accessible. The handouts below cover the most common file types in courses at UIS.
The second highest number of respondents were interested in workshops, and in mid-October we held a three day workshop attended by 18 faculty and staff to help them learn more about accessibility. Departments may schedule workshops on specific accessibility topics (or other teaching and technology topics) for their faculty. Of course, faculty are welcome to schedule individual consultations at any time.
COLRS is happy to announce the Fall 2018 team of student workers who will be helping faculty make their course materials accessible. The students began work September 10, and as of this week have completed work on fifteen classes. Each college will determine their own prioritization of courses which need accessibility help, and each college dean will share that list with Dr. Vickie Cook, Executive Director of COLRS. Dr. Vance Martin, Campus Accessibility Specialist, will then contact the faculty members from the list for instructions on how to share the materials, and once all materials are received, he’ll work with the Accessibility Team to help make the materials accessible.
The Accessibility Team Members are:
Daniela Arizmendi is from Waukegan, IL. She is majoring in English and minoring in Secondary Education. She plans to attend Graduate school to pursue a Masters in Education. She loves food, movies, and makeup.
Kayla Thomas is a transfer student from Richland Community College. She is majoring in English with double minors in Communications and Global Studies. She is also the co-managing editor of the Alchemist Review and has been accepted into the National Honors Society of Leadership and Success. She has one dog and four cats who take up all of her free time!
Yuxuan Zhang, “Xuan”, is in his senior year at UIS. He is majoring in computer science. He is from China, and his hometown is near Shanghai. He likes playing computer games, watching movies, and playing with drones on the weekend . This is his second year working for COLRS.
J.R. Gomoll is in his junior year at UIS. He is majoring in computer science. He is from Richmond, Illinois. This is his second year working for COLRS.
PDFs have been used in a variety of ways in higher education: from a medium to share articles and book chapters, to a format for saving document files which can be opened on various platforms. However, when we think about the accessibility needs of students, PDFs become more problematic. For scanning a book or article, creating a PDF is still a useful means for sharing the materials, but we still need to follow procedures to make the scan accessible.
For those who are writing course materials in Word or Pages, or some other word processing software, and saving the file as a PDF, there is a more accessible way to share that same information within Canvas. Create the file as you normally would. (If in Word, run the accessibility checker.) In Canvas, under the “Pages” select “+ Page”. Enter a title for the page. Then copy the material from your word processing software and paste it in the content area, scroll to the bottom and select submit. That content is now much more accessible than in a PDF, and quicker to open regardless of platform.
Welcome back for the Fall 2018 semester! As we begin to greet our new students and make final changes to course materials I wanted to offer a reminder of a few tips from last year. Please make sure you’re using the newest version of Word, which is Word 2016. If you’re not you can download it by logging in with your UIS credentials from the UIS webstore.
And this previous post from April 2018 gives you the link to the accessible course syllabus, the link to more Word tips, and also a reminder on how to use the built in accessibility checker within Word.
Why does the first tip of the new year focus on Word? At the end of last semester we had 4 student workers who worked on 42 classes for faculty around campus. We received just over 1000 files, and 498 of those files were Word files. With 50% of the files being in Word, it seems like a good place to start.
Perhaps you are seeing OERs or Open Education Resources mentioned more frequently at your disciplinary conferences. Or perhaps there are initiatives on your campus to promote OERs, like at UIS. In general OERs are materials made by other instructors, anywhere in the world, who are willing to freely share them with others. Do you need to think about accessibility with OERs? Yes. However, it shouldn’t be a stumbling block in your adoption of OERs. If you adopt OERs for your class you should check them for accessibility, as you would any other materials, and as you review them for fitting with your learning goals. As we’ve discussed, running the accessibility checker for Word files, PowerPoints, or PDFs can tell you how accessible something is and how to fix it.
In most cases, academic materials which are termed OER are licensed under a creative commons (CC) license. There are six different licenses. If the license is “attribution-non-commerical-no derivs” or “attributiuon-no derivs” and the material is accessible then you can use it, but make no alterations and you must credit the license holder.
For the other four licenses you can alter the materials to make them accessible or alter and add other content to them, just remember to credit the original creator/licensor.
There is an accessible course syllabus template in Word on the Academic Affairs website. We’ve posted several tips on accessibility and Word, as well as presented several campus wide and department level sessions on Word over the past few months. And many of the files that the Accessibility Team has worked on thus far have been Word files. So once we’ve used the template, worked on our files, or had the Accessibility Team work on them, we’re done? Maybe. It is always a good idea after making any edits or opening and saving a file on a new computer to run the accessibility checker. Why? Any edits we make could add a new accessibility issue to the file. Or sometimes there are settings on one computer which will override the look of a file, which can also lead to accessibility issues. So how do we run the accessibility checker again?
In Word 2016 for PCs select File > Check for Issues> Check Accessibility
In Word 2016 for Mac select Tools>Check Accessibility
You can run the accessibility checker when you’re creating new files, as a tool to find out issues in old files, or to make sure all your changes are still accessible.
COLRS is happy to announce that we now have a team of four student workers who will be helping faculty make their course materials accessible. The students began work and training the week of March 20th, and as of this week have begun working on course materials. Each college will determine their own prioritization of courses which need accessibility help and each College Dean will share that list with Vickie Cook. Vance Martin will then contact the faculty members from the list for instructions on how to share the materials, and once all materials are received he’ll work with the Accessibility Team to help make the materials accessible. The Accessibility Team Members are:
Jalee Braner is in her freshman year at UIS. She is double majoring in elementary education and English. She is from Springfield, Illinois and plans to teach in Springfield for at least 2 years after she graduates. She likes working out and spending time with friends and family.
J.R. Gomoll is in his sophomore year at UIS. He is majoring in computer science. He is from Richmond, Illinois.
Genesis Reyes is in her freshman year at UIS. She is majoring in business administration and minoring in Spanish. She is from Grayslake, Illinois.
Yuxuan Zhang, “Xuan”, is in his junior year at UIS. He is majoring in computer science. He is from China, and his hometown is near Shanghai. He likes playing computer games, watching movies, and playing with drones on the weekends.
Recently I saw a post on Facebook with a blue circle, with a barely lighter blue rhino in it. It equated intelligence with the ability to see the rhino. It made me think of the need to keep color in mind in our instructional materials. Around 8% of men and 1% of women of Northern European descent are color blind. And the older we get the more difficulty we all have with certain color combinations. So it is important to think about this for our students, if you like to use color in your documents or presentations. Below are some known color combinations which are highly problematic.
March 12, 2018 / vmart02s / Comments Off on Textboxes aren’t accessible, but you can have that same great look another way
Many people like to use textboxes in Word to highlight certain sections of a document, the problem is text boxes aren’t accessible. However, if you want the same look you can modify an existing style within Word for the same effect. Select the section of text you would like highlighted and boxed. Goto the home tab, and in the style menu select “intense quote”. At first this will make the text blue, italicized, and between two blue bars. Now right click on “intense quote” in PC or control click on a Mac to modify this style. You can change the text to black, and bold, or whatever you would like. At the bottom of the window you can select format and then select borders. Now you can choose a box and you’ve just achieved the same look, but accessibly. You can modify it to achieve various looks. You can do these modifications for this document only or save for future documents.
Alternative text (alt text) is probably the most confusing topic when thinking about accessibility. In general, alt text is adding a description to a picture, table, graph, or any image in a Word document, PowerPoint, PDF, or Excel which can be read by a screen reader. The key is what you put in for alt text. It needs to be a description of what the picture, table, or graph is. If it is a picture of Harry Truman, the alt text could be “Harry Truman.” If it is a picture of an atom, the alt text might need to be much more descriptive of what the picture is showing. It is important to think more critically about what images we put in documents, and what information we assume people will get out of the image.
On the COLRS website are some images, along with the alt text and captions. The alt text will only be read by a screen reader. The captions will be read be everyone. These are all taken from an anthropology course developed by Alex Markovic, Ph.D. at UIC, who gave permission to share his materials. It is important to note that he had never taken an online class, nor taught an online class, and he was developing the first online anthropology class for UIC. The idea of alt text was new to him. The only instructions he was given were to describe the pictures by thinking about what he’d like a visually impaired student to get out of the pictures included in the class. He did a wonderful job on 100+ images in his course. Below are sample of them.
Lists or outlines are a perennial favorite way of organizing content. But there are some things to keep in mind. If something occurs in order, use a numbered list.
For this dance:
Put your left foot in
Put your left foot out
Put your left foot in
Shake it all about
If order does not matter use bullets.
Primary colors of pigment:
And if you’re using a numbered list as an outline don’t force spacing by using extra returns, or other odd functions to force a look, go with what Word gives you or allows. The accessibility checker can give you some odd errors if you do this, and it can take a lot of time to fix them.
In Word, tables can be problematic. They should be used for tabular data, they are often used for page layout. The top example below shows a table used for layout. In this case, the Word autochecker will give you an error, and a screen reader user will have difficulty. A screen reader sees row 1 as 5 cells merged into one and expects everything below it to also be one large merged cell. Then it encounters row 2 and sees 1 cell and 4 cells merged into one. To a computer, this does not compute. What the computer wants is a header for each column with every row below that containing the same number of lined up columns. If page layout like this is desired, using tabs for spacing may suffice. The second example is how a table should be setup, with headers and the required information below it. It is fine to use a table in a syllabus for listing readings and assignments. Define the header row. Don’t merge cells. And it is fine to have empty cells.
The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigates cases of discrimination, disability discrimination is a part of their caseload. They have a policy of investigating and attempting to close cases within 180 days. Until recently, the only way to know who was under investigation was to receive notice of investigation, or by word of mouth. Annual numbers of total cases have been available in the OCR’s annual budget, 2017 budget ( about 4,485). However, as of the beginning of February 2018 the OCR has made available their pending cases on a searchable website.
When using videos for educational purposes, they need to have audio descriptions. What are audio descriptions? They are a spoken, verbal explanation of what is occurring in the video. The audio descriptions are captioned, as well.
For an example, take 3 minutes to watch these two, almost identical 1.5 minute videos. Close your eyes and listen to the first video. Do the same thing and listen to the second video. The first video probably made much less sense than the second, and hopefully illustrates the use and value of audio descriptions.
Just like with Word, PowerPoint has a built in accessibility checker. This link to Accessibility at the Microsoft website can show you how to run it for Macs or PCs. It also lists some of the most common issues and fixes for PowerPoint. Typically, those are alternative text and reading order.
Alternative text is what is read by a screen reader to describe an image in a presentation. If there is no alternative text a screen reader will read there is an image and the size of it.
Reading order is the order in which a screen reader reads the information on a page. And while it may seem intuitive to read from top to bottom and left to right, PowerPoint reads in the order which the information was added to the page originally.
In Word 2016, for Mac or PC, when using bold or italics for emphasis in a document, consider using the style “strong”. It is in the styles group along with normal, heading 1, heading 2…. A screen reader does not add emphasis to bold or italics, but will if you use strong. In appearance, strong is set to a default bold. However, you can modify the styles to whatever you would like. To learn how to modify your styles go to this page, scroll down to “to modify a link” and use the instructions to set the styles to your preferences.
As a general rule, if you add color, bold, italics, or underline for emphasis in a document, consider selecting just one method of conveying emphasis. Around 5% of the population is color blind, and around 2.3% of the population has a visual disability. The color can be problematic for a color blind individual, and none of those methods of emphasis are conveyed through a screen reader.
PDFs can be tricky to make accessible. Regardless of whether you are using a Mac or PC, check out the instructions on the Adobe site for making a PDF accessible by running the action wizard and full check. An all text Pdf should be relatively easy following the instructions in the first two sections at the Adobe site. If after running the accessibility full check as outlined in the second section there are no issues identified, then the document is accessible.
(It is possible on an all-text document that Logical Reading Order and Color Contrast will have a white question mark in a blue circle. It is ok to “pass” the Logical Reading Order. And if it is a white document with black text it is ok to “pass” Color Contrast.)
If there are images, charts, tables, or maps these steps become more problematic, but the instructions in the remaining sections at the Adobe site should help with issues like alternative text and tagging issues.
Determining whether a Pdf is accessible or not can be confusing. You can run the built in accessibility checker in Adobe Acrobat Pro to see all the errors, but that doesn’t give a straightforward answer. However, a European non-profit has a free piece of software , for Windows machines, which can help. If you goto the Access for all website and fill out your name and email address you can download the software. With a simple drag and drop the software can give you a green, yellow, or red to let you know very quickly if the document is accessible, needs some work, or needs lots of work to make it accessible.
We had a faculty member ask about using alt text to describe some images in an online test. There was an underlying concern that the alt text they provided, in conjunction with the picture might unfairly assist students who did not need the alternative text. In our setting there are two ways we felt a student could view alt text. With slow internet speeds in some areas a slow loading page might load the alt text before the image, or a student could inspect the page to view the alt text. We came up with two possible solutions to this issue.
Add alt-text to each image which might have a specific nomenclature such as q1image1, q1image2, q1image3…. Then create a word file which links the q1image1 to the alternative text. This file could be added to the online class and hidden. A statement in the syllabus could reflect that students who need alternative text can contact the instructor and the instructor can share that file with the students prior to the test.
Create a second copy of the test with alt text added to the pictures, and hide the test. Provide a similar statement to the syllabus and make that test available for students who need the test. Currently our institution uses Blackboard and this option would create some gradebook issues when used.
When creating Word documents use the built in styles such as heading 1, heading 2, heading 3…to layout your document. This makes a document more navigable for people using a screen reader. And while Microsoft has odd font and color choices for their default heading styles, you can modify the styles to whatever you would like. To learn how to modify your styles goto this page ,scroll down to “to modify a link” and use the instructions to set the styles to whatever you would prefer.
In preparation for the spring semester, make sure you’re able to edit your PDFs with Adobe Acrobat Pro. You can download it for your personal use at the webstore. By having Acrobat Pro, you can edit PDFs, run the built in accessibility checker, and make your PDFs more accessible.
In preparation for the spring semester, make sure that your version of Word is up to date, Word 2016. You can download it for your personal use at the webstore. By having the most recent version of Word you can update all old Word files to the most recent version, and use the built in accessibility checker to make your Word documents more accessible.
The WCET Frontiers Blog featured Dr. Katie Linder, Oregon State University Ecampus, who discussed a national research project on student use of closed captions and transcriptions. The Oregon State University Ecampus Research unit and 3Play Media worked together to conduct a national study on student uses and perceptions of closed captions and transcriptions.
The important results show that while these resources are not yet widely available, many students, even those who may not need these resources as an accommodation, are able to use transcriptions and captions to increase their success.
At present, the most accessible way to use Box is via the a.box.com website. This site contains many key Box features, and works well on mobile devices. It also contains a link to the standard Box site.
What are the available features for a.box.com?
a.Box.com supports the primary features of Box, and provides access to all features available in the m.Box.com website. Some of the primary features include preview and download access to files and folders, sharing and configuring links to files and folders, adding and managing collaborators, viewing and making comments, and managing files and folders.
a.Box addresses accessibility as a core requirement for each feature.
Does a.Box support screen readers?
a.Box is intended to work with the leading screen reading technology providers, including VoiceOver. Screen readers attempt to identify and interpret what is being displayed on the screen and convey that information via text-to-speech to users who are visually impaired.
Does a.box.com provide keyboard access?
a.Box.com provides keyboard accessibility, which enables you to use your keyboard exclusively (with no mouse) for improved interactions with the Box UI.
a.Box.com helps enable keyboard accessibility through the following additional features:
Removal of all menu items that are enabled via mouse ‘hovering’.
Re-ordering of all menu structures to maintain a logical reading order.
Enabling of visible focus, which helps people with visual or other print-related disabilities have a clear indicator of where they are on a page.
Providing a short-cut that enables a user to immediately ‘skip to content’ they are trying to view, letting them bypass repeated menu elements.
Does a.Box provide low vision color contrast?
a.Box.com is designed with low vision and color-blind user needs in mind. a.Box.com allows for text resizing, with up to 200% magnification. The site has also been tested for color contrast, with contrast ratios set at a minimum of 4.5:1.
How can I get more information about accessibility at Box?
Tables: Use Tables Titles and Avoid Blank Rows and Columns
One very common mistake is leaving column A blank (because it makes it look like a margin).
Place table titles in the first column (A) so screen readers can find them easily.
If the table does not display the full text, merge cells and center them by selecting the Home tab, then clicking on Merge & Center. Be sure to keep the original text in the first column.
It’s OK to have merged cells in titles, but do not merge cells in the data part of the table.
Resize your rows and columns to provide spacing that makes the table readable (rather than using
blanks to create your spacing).
If you have two or more tables on the same worksheet, leave a single blank row between each
table. You can resize the blank row to create a space that is visually appealing.
Add an “End of Table” message in the row after the last row of a data table row. The text can be in white against a white background.
Table Cell Range and Header Cells: Define the Regions
You can use the Names feature to name a range of cells so that screen readers voice the names of header cells along with the value of each cell.
Select the top-left cell in your table. Don’t count the titles, but do count all row and column headers as part of your table.
Go to the Formulas tab in the Ribbon, and choose Name Manager in the Defined Names Choose New in the top left corner.
A new dialog box opens. In the Name field, type TitleRegion then put a 1 if this is the first table on your worksheet, then a period, then the range of cells in your table from top left to bottom right (with a period in between), then another period, then the worksheet number. For example, your Title code might look like this:
Click OK and Close.
Images: Use Alt Text for Informative Images
Insert the image, then right-click and choose Size and Properties.
In the Size and Properties dialog box, choose the Alt Text Type in a brief description with
enough detail to explain the picture, then Close the dialog box.
Charts: Use Alt Text Descriptions
1. Right-click on the chart, select Format Chart, then Alt Text.
Complete the Description field (not the Title field).
Headings: Use Properly Formatted Headings to Structure Page Content
Rationale: Headings help to organize content, making it easier for everyone to read. Headings are also a primary way for people using screen reading software to navigate a page of text.
Lists: Use Ordered/Unordered Lists to Group Related Items
Rationale: Logical organization of content is conveyed to all users, along with other useful information for assistive technology users about the number of items listed. Mobile users also benefit as information is presented as it is meant to be presented.
Tables: Use Tables for Tabular Data and Provide Column and/or Row Headers
Rationale: Screen readers linearize content and read tables from left to right, top to bottom, one cell at a time. If cells are split or merged, it can throw the reading order off and make the table difficult to comprehend by users who are blind and using a screen reader to navigate.
Images: Use Alt Text for Informative Images
Rationale: Alt text is read by a screen reader. It should adequately describe what is displayed and its purpose. This allows screen reader users to benefit from information conveyed by the image, even if they cannot see it.
Links: Use Meaningful Text for Links
Rationale: Headings help to organize content, making it easier for everyone to read. Headings are also a primary way for people using screen reading software to navigate a page of text.
Keyboard: Check Keyboard Access
Rationale: Users with visual and mobility impairments rely on the keyboard, rather than a mouse, to access and navigate online content. If content is not keyboard accessible, it restricts who can learn from that content.
Color: Use Sufficient Color Contrast
Rationale: Without sufficient color contrast between font and background, people who are color blind and low vision may not perceive the content. Additionally, using color alone to convey meaning (e.g., items in red indicate a deficit) excludes color blind or blind users. To check color contrast, use the Paciello Group’s Color Contrast Analyzer: https://www.paciellogroup.com/resources/contrastanalyser/
Video/Audio: Provide Captioning for Video and Text Transcripts for Audio
Rationale: Captions are essential for those who are deaf and hard of hearing, but they also benefit non-native speakers, those unfamiliar with the vocabulary, and viewers with some learning disabilities or in a noisy environment. Audio transcripts are essential for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, but also assist others who can easily read or search the transcripts.
Math: Write Math and Science Equations Accessibly
Rationale: For web pages, use an equation editor that outputs MathML, a markup language that allows equations to be stored as structured text that is compatible with many assistive technologies. With screen readers, for example, blind users can navigate and review parts of an equation, such as the top portion of a complex fraction. For more information on MathML, see the W3C Math guide: https://www.w3.org/Math/.
From the Home tab, choose the New Slide dropdown menu.
Select a slide template (do not use Blank slide template).
Avoid using Text Boxes to create or arrange slide content (screen readers will always read Text Boxes last).
Keep Slide Content Clear, Concise, and Readable
Use concise, non-figurative, and accurate language.
Slides should appear clean and uncluttered with adequate foreground-background color contrast.
Use standard fonts. For readability, sans-serif fonts, such as Arial, Verdana, and Helvetica are preferable.
Use Unique Slide Titles
Create slide titles with the Title placeholder visible in default slide layouts. Do not use text boxes for titles.
Use a unique slide title for each slide. If you have multiple slides that continue a topic, you can label them in the following way: “[TITLE OF SLIDE], 1 of 4,” “[TITLE OF SLIDE], 2 of 4,” etc.
Check titles and document structure: from the View tab, select Presentation Views and click Outline View.
Insert Charts and Graphs with Data Tables
Go Insert and select Chart. The PowerPoint datasheet view appears for you to enter your table data.
Add values to the PowerPoint datasheet by selecting a cell and typing in the value. Remember to add labels for the rows and columns. Close the datasheet window by selecting ESC from your keyboard.
Display the corresponding data table. For Office 2010, select the chart, select Layout from the chart tools menu, and choose Show data table from the Data Table For Office 2016, use the Add Chart Element from the Design tab to choose a layout that displays the data table with the chart (e.g., Data Table > With Legend Keys).
Keep Lists Readable
Avoid presenting more than six points per slide at default font size.
Use one line of text, ideally, and no more than two per point.
Use Alt Text for Informative Images
Right click on the image, and select Format Picture, then Alt Text.
Fill in the Description field (not the Title field).
Use Meaningful Text for Links
Type out text that describes the link’s destination (e.g., “CITL Summer Intensive”). Avoid text like “Click here.”
Select the text, right click on it, and choose Hyperlink from the menu.
In the Insert Hyperlink window, enter a URL address in the Address field.
Click the OK button to save the link.
Document Properties: Identify the Title and Author
In Windows, click File, then expand the pull down menu for Properties to select the Summary On a Mac, click File, then select Properties, and then select the Summary tab.
From the Summary tab of the Properties dialog, add or change the Title and the Author.
Sometimes it can be difficult to avoid sharing a scanned PDF or photo with your students. For instance, you might want them to read an out-of-print manuscript that’s not available in any other format. The unfortunate down side, however, is that these types of files are not accessible to students who rely on screen readers or other technology to assist them when completing assigned readings.
Luckily, as UIS faculty, you have access to free tools that allow you to quickly and accurately convert PDFs and photo files to text, which is essential in making your course content accessible to all students. This can be accomplished through optical character recognition in Google Drive. (All UIS staff, faculty, and students have access to Google products with their existing UIS NetID and password through our educational license with Google; for more information, visit go.uis.edu/google.)
Hover over the file in Google Drive, right-click, and select Open with > Google Docs.
The image file will then be converted to a Google Doc, and any text that was recognized in the image will appear below the original image within the Google Doc. (For multi-page PDFs, each page will appear as a separate image, with the text underneath.)
Once doing this, it is important to scan the new text for accuracy, and correct any errors that you find. Most of the time, formatting (bold, italics, etc.) will be retained.
Please also keep this in mind:
Only these file types are currently supported: JPEG, PNG, GIF, and PDF
Text should be right-side up. If your image or PDF is facing the wrong way, you must rotate it before uploading it to Google Drive.
The maximum file size supported by Google at this time for optical character recognition is 2MB. This means that larger, multi-page PDFs may need to be separated into several different files before starting.
Tables, columns, footnotes, etc. are not likely to be detected.
For the best accuracy:
Text should be at least 10 pixels in height.
Common fonts like Arial or Times New Roman work best.
By far the quickest and easiest way to make sure your videos are accessible is to prepare a script in advance before you record. In addition to assuring that you will not forget to cover any critical material, a script will also ensure that you stay on track and avoid tangents while recording. Once you’ve prepared your script and uploaded your video, follow these steps:
Save your script as a plain text file (.txt). If you are using Microsoft Word, a settings pop-up will appear with file conversion options; be sure to select the option to “Allow character substitution.” You may leave all other settings at their default value. (If you do not select character substitution, YouTube may read common punctuation incorrectly, such as apostrophes or quotation marks.)
When you are signed in to your YouTube account, navigate to your video and click the CC button directly underneath the video player.
Click the blue button, Add new subtitles or CC, and select your language (usually English).
Select the option to Upload a file.
For file type, select transcript.
Click Choose File, and find the plain text file that you created in step 1. Click Upload.
Your transcript should then appear in the text box. You may watch your video once more and double-check your transcript for accuracy, or if you are confident with what you have uploaded, simply click the blue Set timings button.
That’s it! YouTube will automatically scan your video and text, and create accurate, correctly-timed closed captions.
Option 2: I need to create a transcript for an existing recording.
Depending on the length and complexity of your video and the content, creating transcripts can be a time-consuming process. YouTube does have several powerful features to make it a bit easier, though:
YouTube auto-captions YouTube’s auto-captioning feature is surely not perfect, but it is getting more accurate as time goes on and Google is able to harvest more and more voice data. Auto-captions are created automatically after you upload a video, usually within several hours after uploading. (Sometimes, it may take up to one day before auto-captions will appear. Unfortunately, there is no way to speed this process up; all you can do is keep checking after you’ve uploaded a video to see if they are ready.)To check if auto-captions are ready for your video, go to your video’s closed-captioning settings using the directions in step 2 above. Once they have been created, they will appear like this:Click on the captions, usually titled “English (Automatic)“, and then click the blue Edit button.You can then play the video and jump from caption to caption to edit for accuracy. Once you are finished, simply click the blue Publish edits button.
Create a transcript from scratch
This option is the most time and labor intensive option, but usually produces the best results (if you didn’t use a script).To use YouTube’s built-in transcription feature, simply follow steps 2 and 3 above (go to your video’s closed caption settings, and select the option to “Add new subtitles or CC.”) However, instead of uploading a file, you’ll select the option to Transcribe and auto-sync.On the following page, you may play your video and begin typing what is spoken into the text box. YouTube will pause the video while you are typing automatically, making it easier to type what you hear, as you hear it, without falling too far behind. When you have finished typing what is spoken in your video, click the blue Set timings button. After several minutes, YouTube will have automatically timed the text to the video, creating accurately timed closed captions.
This is overwhelming. HELP!
We get it – you are busy, and it takes time to make sure your content is accessible. The technology behind accessibility can also feel overwhelming at times. We’re here to help you, though!
Any of the professionals at COLRS are available for one-on-one tutorials or departmental workshops in which we can teach you, face to face, how to use this technology and ensure your content is accessible to all students. To set something up, or if you just need some help along the way as you try this yourself, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
UIS offers instructors two options for posting accessible videos with captioning in online courses: Kaltura and YouTube. In this post, we’ll explain the differences between both options, and when it’s better to use one over the other.
Kaltura is a premium video service supported by ITS that provides instructors with several advantages:
Support for uploading closed-captions (.srt files)
Kaltura also has several disadvantages:
Increasing storage costs for the university as video uploads increase
All faculty, staff, and students at UIS have access to individual YouTube accounts through our Google Apps for Education license. This means that practically anyone affiliated with the university has access to most Google products, including YouTube, with their existing UIS NetID and password.
Many instructors are moving from Kaltura to YouTube to host accessible videos with captioning. Some advantages of YouTube include:
Unlimited individual video storage and video retention
Better mobile support
An increasingly-accurate auto-captioning service that automatically creates captions for any video that you upload, in dozens of different languages
A user-friendly integrated transcription feature
The ability to upload closed-captions (.srt files) and pre-existing plain-text transcripts
An auto-timing feature that easily converts transcriptions to closed-captions
Disadvantages of YouTube include:
Privacy concerns: While individuals have full control over whether their videos may appear in public searches, anyone with a link to a video that is not “private” will be able to watch it or embed it on other websites
Advertising: Because YouTube is an ad-supported service, students may be subjected to ads that you do not control, unless they pay for a premium YouTube subscription
More limited analytics that are restricted to video views
Accessibility for Videos
Regardless of the video platform you choose to use, you should ensure that your content is accessible, and that you have proper copyright permissions if you use anything that you did not produce yourself. Learn how to use YouTube to make closed-captions. Please feel free to contact COLRS anytime to further discuss Kaltura, YouTube, captioning, and accessibility.
There is no screen reader support for Canvas in Chrome
Canvas Navigation with a Screen Reader
Canvas makes extensive use of ARIA landmark regions. Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) defines ways to make web content and web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. Therefore, the best way to get around in Canvas is to navigate via regions. Within regions, Canvas uses HTML headings, so navigating between headings can be helpful.
In our media-centric society, the desire and need for online learning is at an all-time high. However, as more academic content goes online, the industry is running into a stumbling block as they struggle to make their online courses accessible. With recent lawsuits in higher education and updates to Section 508 on the horizon, it is more important than ever that online learning content be made accessible to students with disabilities.
In this webinar, Janet Sylvia, Web Accessibility Group Leader and Web Accessibility Trainer, will provide you with 10 tips for making your online course material accessible.
Janet will cover:
The challenges of making online course content accessible
The legal landscape for online learning and accessibility
Challenges and solutions for instructors and administrators
Developing an accessibility statement and accessibility policies
October 5, 2015 / nle27 / Comments Off on Doing the Right Thing: A Focus on Accessibility in Online Programs
In today’s world of online learning, high quality course development and delivery are key components for successful online programs. Institutions follow a myriad of instructional design strategies, faculty development techniques, and student engagement activities. But in the midst of these important elements, there is one thing that is sometimes overlooked – or completely left out: Accessibility. Title 5 (which defines distance education) of the ADA makes it clear that online classes must fulfill the requirements of the Americans with Disability Act and section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
As leaders in online education, accessible design is an important component of your online program strategy and execution. Join this webinar as we discuss techniques to drive consistent compliance with Title 5 as you build out new and update existing online programs.
October 5, 2015 / nle27 / Comments Off on Online Video and the ADA: How a Landmark Case Changed the Legal Landscape of Closed Captioning
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, before the Internet was an integral part of society. While it originally dictated accessibility requirements for physical structures and businesses, several recent legal cases have expanded the reach of the ADA to include places of online accommodation. MIT, Harvard, and Netflix (among others) have all been sued for not providing closed captioning for their online video content.
This webinar will be presented by Arlene B. Mayerson, the Directing Attorney of the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF). Ms. Mayerson led the legal team that secured a historic settlement regarding application of the ADA to online commerce in National Association of the Deaf (NAD), et al. v. Netflix, which ensures 100% closed captions in Netflix’s On-Demand Streaming Content. In this webinar, she will discuss how she and the NAD brought Netflix under the ADA, as well as how the ruling has impacted the legal landscape of web accessibility and closed captioning.
This webinar will cover:
What constitutes a place of public accommodation under the ADA
How Netflix was originally brought under the ADA
How the scope of the ADA has changed since the Netflix ruling
The current legal landscape of closed captioning and web accessibility
How the Netflix ruling impacts online education and other industries using streaming video
Given recent lawsuits, who is implicated by the ADA?
About Arlene B. Mayerson Arlene B. Mayerson is one of the nation’s leading experts in disability rights law. She has been a key advisor to both Congress and the disability community on the major disability rights legislation for the past two decades. At the request of members of Congress, Ms. Mayerson supplied expert testimony before several committees of Congress when they were debating the ADA. She filed comments on the ADA regulations for more than 500 disability rights organizations. Ms. Mayerson has devoted her career exclusively to disability rights practice, representing clients in a wide array of issues. She has provided representation, consultation to counsel, and coordination of amicus briefs on key disability rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. She was appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education to the Civil Rights Reviewing Authority, responsible for reviewing civil rights decisions of the Department.
Ms. Mayerson is also a John and Elizabeth Boalt Lecturer in disability law at Berkeley Law, University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall). She has published many articles on disability rights and is the author of a comprehensive three-volume treatise on the ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act Annotated-Legislative History, Regulations & Commentary (Clark Boardman Callaghan, 1994), which sets forth the legislative history and regulations for each provision of the ADA.
Arlene B. Mayerson
Directing Attorney | Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Lily Bond (Moderator)
Marketing Manager | 3Play Media
As of Fall 2015, the following disability statement should be used on UIS syllabi:
If you are a student with a documented temporary or ongoing disability in need of academic accommodations, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 217-206-6666.
Disabilities may include, but are not limited to: Psychological, Health, Learning, Sensory, Mobility, ADHD, TBI and Asperger’s syndrome. In some cases, accommodations are also available for shorter term disabling conditions such as severe medical situations. Accommodations are based upon underlying medical and cognitive conditions and may include, but are not limited to: extended time for tests and quizzes, distraction free environment for tests and quizzes, a note taker, interpreter and FM devices.
Students who have made a request for an academic accommodation that has been reviewed and approved by the ODS will receive an accommodation letter which should be provided by the student to the instructor as soon as possible, preferably in the first week of class.
For assistance in seeking academic accommodations, please contact the UIS Office of Disability Services (ODS) in the Human Resources Building, Room 80, phone number 217-206-6666.
Cable Green, Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons, led a discussion of “eTextbooks and Open Educational Resources” to help University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) student leaders understand the local and global education opportunities when digital content, the internet and open licensing are combined. View the recording of Cable Green’s lecture.Movie Fifty Shades Darker (2017)