Online Teaching & Technology Blog

Center for Online Learning, Research and Service @ Illinois Springfield

Tag: accessibility

The fruits of the student accessibility workers’ labors

Recently I 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. 

In Spring 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:

  • 42 classes
  • 919 total files
    • 498 Word files – 2,018 total pages
    • 228 PDF files – 4,921 total pages
    • 94 PowerPoint files – 2,376 total slides
    • 56 Videos – 16:14:08 total run time
    • 43 assorted files

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:

  • 50 classes
  • 840 total files
    • 325 PDF files – 5,256 total pages
    • 209 Word files – 683 total pages
    • 183 PowerPoint files – 5,168 total pages
    • 119 Videos – 58:17:15 total run time
    • 4 assorted files

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.

Table Accessibility in Word: Mac v PC

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:

  1. Open those files in Word on a PC, run the accessibility checker, and fix them.
  2. 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)

Excel Accessibility Cheat Sheet

MS Excel: Accessibility Best Practices

Tables: Use Tables Titles and Avoid Blank Rows and Columns

  1. One very common mistake is leaving column A blank (because it makes it look like a margin).
  2. Place table titles in the first column (A) so screen readers can find them easily.
  3. 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.
  4. It’s OK to have merged cells in titles, but do not merge cells in the data part of the table.
  5. Resize your rows and columns to provide spacing that makes the table readable (rather than using

blanks to create your spacing).

  1. 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.

  1. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Go to the Formulas tab in the Ribbon, and choose Name Manager in the Defined Names Choose New in the top left corner.
  4. 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:

TitleRegion1.a2.g7.2

  1. Click OK and Close.

Images: Use Alt Text for Informative Images

  1. Insert the image, then right-click and choose Size and Properties.
  2. 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.

  1. Complete the Description field (not the Title field).

Resources

http://go.illinois.edu/excel_resources

See also: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Section 508 Accessibility checklist

HTML Accessibility Cheat Sheet

HTML: Accessibility Best Practices

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/.

Resources

http://webaim.org/intro/#principles

See also: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Section 508 Accessibility checklist

PowerPoint Accessibility Cheat Sheet

MS PowerPoint: Accessibility Best Practices

Use Default Slide Layouts

  1. From the Home tab, choose the New Slide dropdown menu.
  2. Select a slide template (do not use Blank slide template).
  3. 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

  1. Create slide titles with the Title placeholder visible in default slide layouts. Do not use text boxes for titles.
  2. 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.
  3. Check titles and document structure: from the View tab, select Presentation Views and click Outline View.

Insert Charts and Graphs with Data Tables

  1. Go Insert and select Chart. The PowerPoint datasheet view appears for you to enter your table data.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. Right click on the image, and select Format Picture, then Alt Text.
  2. Fill in the Description field (not the Title field).

Use Meaningful Text for Links

  1. Type out text that describes the link’s destination (e.g., “CITL Summer Intensive”). Avoid text like “Click here.”
  2. Select the text, right click on it, and choose Hyperlink from the menu.
  3. In the Insert Hyperlink window, enter a URL address in the Address field.
  4. Click the OK button to save the link.

Document Properties: Identify the Title and Author

  1. 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.
  2. From the Summary tab of the Properties dialog, add or change the Title and the Author.

Resources

http://go.illinois.edu/ppt_resources

See also: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Section 508 Accessibility checklist

MS Word Accessibility Cheat Sheet

MS Word: Accessibility Best Practices

Headings: Use Styles to Provide Logical Heading Structure

  1. Select the text that you want to make into a heading.
  2. From the Home tab, choose the appropriate heading level from the Styles

Lists: Use Ordered/Unordered Lists to Group Related Items

  1. Select the text you want to make into a list.
  2. From the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, select the Bullets or Numbering

Tables: Use Tables for Tabular Data and Provide Column Headers

  1. Place the cursor in the top row of your data table and click on the Design tab under Table Tools.
  2. In the Table Style Options group, select the Header Row check box.
  3. Under Table Tools, click the Layout
  4. In the Data group (Word 2016 – Table Design > Layout tab), click the Repeat Header Row

Images: Use Alt Text for Informative Images

  1. Right click on the image, and select Format Picture, then Alt Text.
  2. Fill in the Description field (not the Title field).

Links: Use Meaningful Text for Links

  1. Type out text that clearly describes the link’s destination (e.g., “CITL Best Practices for Creating Accessible Word Documents”). Avoid text like “Click here” or “Visit.”
  2. Select the text, right click on it, and choose Hyperlink from the menu.
  3. In the Insert Hyperlink window, enter a URL address in the Address field.
  4. Click the OK button to save the link.

Document Properties: Identify the Title and Author

  1. 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.
  2. From the Summary tab of the Properties dialog, add or change the Title and the Author.

Color: Use Sufficient Color Contrast

  1. Download the Paciello Group’s Color Contrast Analyzer from the following URL: https://www.paciellogroup.com/resources/contrastanalyser/
  2. Open the Color Contrast Analyzer application.
  3. Click the Foreground eye dropper tool. Hover over and click your foreground color to select it.
  4. Click the Background eye dropper tool. Hover over and click your background color.
  5. If you are testing a 12-pixel or smaller font, you must get a Pass (AA). If your font is larger than 12 pixels, you must get a Pass (AA) in the Large Text field.
  6. AA standards pass is sufficient.
  7. Do not use color alone to convey information (e.g., items in red indicate a deficit).

Resources

http://go.illinois.edu/word_resources

See also: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Section 508 Accessibility checklist

PDF Accessibility Cheat Sheat

PDF: Accessibility Best Practices

Method 1: Convert MS Word to PDF

  1. Start with a well-structured Word document.
  2. In Word, click the File tab and select Save as. In the Save as type field, select PDF (*.pdf.).
  3. Enter a file name in the File name field.
  4. Click on the Options button and make sure the Document structure tags for accessibility is checked.
  5. Click OK and Save.

This will tag the document so that headings and lists are correctly interpreted by screen readers. Additional remediation using Adobe Acrobat Pro/DC may be needed to adjust reading order.

Method 2: Run Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on Scanned Document

Using Acrobat XI for OCR

  1. Open the scanned PDF file in Adobe Acrobat XI.
  2. Open the Tools panel (click Tools in top right) and click Text Recognition.
  3. Click In This File and the Recognize Text window will open.
  4. Click the Edit button to adjust OCR settings. Select English (US) for Primary OCR Language, Searchable Image for PDF Output Style and 600 dpi for Downsample To.
  5. Click OK when done.

Using Acrobat DC for OCR

  1. Open the scanned PDF file in Adobe Acrobat DC.
  2. In the Tools panel, click the Action Wizard and select Optimize Scanned Document.
  3. Use the Enhance tools to Add Document Description.
  4. Use the Enhance tools to Optimize Scanned Pages.
  5. Use the Enhance tools to Save As.

Method 3: Run Adobe Acrobat Built-in Accessibility Checker

Using the Acrobat XI Accessibility Checker

  1. Click the Tools tab to open the Accessibility panel on the right hand side. If you don’t see it, click the View menu and select Tools > Accessibility.
  2. Under Accessibility, select the Full Check The Accessibility Checker window will open.
  3. Under the Report Options, check the Create Accessibility Report
  4. Click the Start Checking
  5. The Accessibility Checker Report will display on the left pane.

Using the Acrobat DC Accessibility Checker

  1. In the Tools panel, click Accessibility to bring up the Accessibility tools.
  2. From the Accessibility tools, select the Full Check The Accessibility Checker window will open.
  3. Under the Report Options, check the Create Accessibility Report
  4. Click the Start Checking
  5. The Accessibility Checker Report will display on the left pane.

Resources

http://go.illinois.edu/pdf_resources

See also: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Section 508 Accessibility checklist