Accessibility for Everyone: Ally Community Forum Series

Accessibility for Everyone: Ally Community Forum Series


So as I mentioned this is our
second event last week we convened we had an open office hours where we
reviewed some of the Ally support materials and we had our first meeting
of the Ally research sig was really exciting to bring folks together and
start to share a little bit of some ideas and some direction for how we
might research Ally and the impacts Ally may be making on
campuses as far as accessibility and Universal Design for Learning. So we got
some really exciting conversations started there. I also wanted to point to
our next forum series event that’s going to be on October 3rd it’s featuring
Brian Berrett and Walt Heburn from Fresno State they’re going to be talking
about their recent Ally pilot and some of the work they’ve done in trying to
research the pilot so very exciting talk that’s going to be October 3rd I’m
dropping a link to to that session description in the chat and today I’m
very excited to introduce and hear from Christopher Phillips of Utah State
University. Christopher has been doing some some really great work around Ally
and around accessibility he’s the electronic and information technology
accessibility coordinator at Utah State. He’s been helping to lead the the u.s.
use rollout of Allied he’s a lot of knowledge and experience implementing
different accessibility tools and checkers and is really passionate about
how accessibility can benefit all learners. So with that I will pass the
mic to Christopher he’s going to do his presentation here feel free I’ll
moderate the chat and so if questions are popping up or things feel free to
drop them in the chat and then hopefully at the end we’ll have a little bit more
time for some Q&A and some discussion. So with that Christopher if
you’re all good on the technical side I’ll let you go ahead and get started [Christopher speaking] I
think we’re all set thank you so much everybody hear me okay thumbs up from
somebody. [John speaking] All good. [Christopher speaking] okay thank you so much I’m only on one
screen so yeah if you can let me know of any questions that come up in the chat
John that would be fantastic so excited to present today and share
some of the stuff that we’re doing at Utah State this is a if any of you were
at instructurecon the canvas annual conference this year, I shared a few of
these ideas here but but I’ve updated a few things and excited to talk through
some of this today by way of quick introduction again John mentioned my
role here at Utah State the link I shared him the chat just a minute ago is
there on the slides and I’ll share it at the end as well there’s just a few
resources there some of the links we will discuss today as well as the slides
and contact information you can grab there if anybody’s interested. If you
want to wait to the end of the presentation see if there’s anything
worth grabbing that that’s great as well. By way of just quick
introduction I just wanted to take a minute and share just just about me a
little bit this picture every Wednesday afternoon in fact so today’s the day the
day I get to go to maverick with two of my younger brothers Patrick on the
left is just 11 months younger than I am and so we’re the same age every every
year for for about a month Irish twins and then that’s my youngest brother Paul and so fairly early on I mean as far back as I can remember disability
has been a pretty big part of my life and and I came to recognize just again
as a young child some of the injustices and like why on earth wouldn’t Patrick
be able to do or participate or be a part of anything that I was able to do
and participate and be a part of and I had an incredible mother and parents
really that that really have fought a lot of battles all growing up and and as
it came you know as I kind of came to a place where I was ready to
choose a career it was a fairly easy decision kind of on the type of work I
wanted to do and I’ve worked in the disability field as a special educator
in different areas around web accessibility and now in a university
setting most of my life and so but but it’s always a good reminder for me
sometimes just to think back to the why of why I’m doing this and each
of you on the presentation today probably have your own why that you could share
but that that’s just a little bit about me and who I am and why I’m doing this
work. Just a real quick background on Utah State University we’re a land-grant
public university public research university in northern Utah in Logan
where we have just over about 27,000 students I think one kind of unique
thing about our campuses we do we are a extension campus we have kind of
extension or regional campuses all over the state I think in 29 of
the 30 counties across Utah and so we have students our main campus is here in
Logan but we have students all over which presents some interesting kind of
challenges and opportunities as John mentioned I’m the EIT
accessibility coordinator here, hired just about three years ago before that we
didn’t have this role on campus and I think that’s something a lot of campuses
are kind of grappling with on you know they have the accessibility or
Disability Resource Center that that kind of takes care of individual student
needs but looking at a role to kind of address campus-wide accessibility issues
one of the first tasks that I had here was to help establish a policy this
policy is available in the links if anybody’s interested. But but we’ve
really felt a tremendous amount of support here on our campus we were
fortunate to have webaim on our campus as well many of you might be familiar
with with webaim and their great work they do and so some good kind of
foundational work had been done but we’ve got this policy in place now and
are just working on how do we implement this and how do we work with all the
different groups on campus to kind of help them understand the value of
accessibility and why it’s important for for all of our students and employees
anybody else who interacts with University content and generally the
conversations go go pretty well. People want to do the right thing it’s just
kind of finding time to to meet with everybody and to have all of those
conversations but today we’ll focus specifically on accessibility in the
learning management system or online content and I want to talk a little bit
to start with this difference between kind of reactive accessibility and this
is something that everybody is going to be very familiar with and if you’re
you’re on a campus where maybe there’s not a lot happening or this work is newer, this is probably where you’re going to start in general is making sure that
you’re you’re able to reactively make content accessible for students with
disabilities and so this is the type of a thing where a student who requires an
accommodation goes into an accommodation or accessibility Disability Resource
Center is what ours is called. It would provide documentation of their
disability and and then be granted kind of a list of accommodations that that
could be applied for that student and so then when a student signs up for a
course that you’re able to kind of say oh there’s a student in this course who
requires captions for example or files to be made accessible you can go in and
make those files or that content accessible before the semester begins
and this really is kind of it’s really essential to make sure this work is in
place and that you have the the processes and people in place to kind of
take care of students with identified accommodation needs. I’m hearing a couple
beeps in the comments anything to discuss I’ll I’ll keep going but feel
free to jump in at any point if there’s any questions. [John speaking] yeah I responded to a
Christopher a question related to where they could find the policy document. [Christopher speaking]
fantastic thank you and and we want to address reactive accessibility but once
you have really gotten kind of this excessive reactive accessibility or
these processes down that it really opens up some exciting opportunities to
start looking at what I refer to maybe is more of a proactive inclusive
approach starting to think about what kinds of things can we do across all of
our courses that are going to make our content more accessible and also more
usable for everyone. This reactive accessibility is often very focused on a
specific individual with a specific disability generally and there’s often
kind of compliance may be directed it’s something that you have to do you’re
legally required to do and again it’s essential work and important but it’s
very different from this proactive inclusion work where you’re looking at
what kinds of things can we do that are going to benefit a number of different
students in a number of different contexts. Let’s look at a couple of
examples. First of all just to put this kind of challenge in in perspective this
is just a sample of numbers from our spring 2018 course and and some of you
are bigger than this or smaller than this but regardless it’s it’s probably
going to be the numbers the amount of content that you have to do to make
accessible is probably more than you’re able to to actually get to at least in
in a limited time frame. Utah State we had over 3100 canvas
courses we looked at the numbers on that about 150,000 kind of canvas content
items that’s things like quizzes pages assignments and then over 260,000 files
and images. Ally’ obviously fantastic to help you kind of get a handle on this
number and I don’t know and we haven’t crunched
all the time of how much it would take to review or make each of these
accessible but it’s a lot and it’s more than we have time to do right off the
bat and so we kind of acknowledge and part of this is acknowledging we’re just
not going to be able to make all of this content completely accessible to
everybody this semester for example. You know over the long term we hope to
continue to pick away at this and make progress and and and have more and more
of our content be accessible but acknowledging that the that we maybe
can’t do everything it then opens up some opportunities for us to start to
think about what can we do what what’s going to be most important and what can
make the biggest difference and that’s a conversation that for me at least was
initially a little bit uncomfortable. You know as an accessibility specialist a
lot of my work has always been kind of focused on specifically specific
audience as you know so for example what can we do for our students who are blind
or have vision loss or what can we do for our students who are deaf or have
hard-of-hearing? now those groups again for individual
students we have to meet their specific accommodation requirements and that’s
essential work but as you look at the the number of those students and the
number of students overall there’s some opportunities I think to kind of
consider what work is most important and let’s just look at a couple of examples.
As we do this let ya before we jump into those examples just to talk a little bit
about the idea of the curb effect. And many of you might be familiar with this but
curb cuts mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act before that they didn’t
really exist I mean maybe in a few exceptions but curb cuts were required
by law and all the sudden you had a number of businesses and business owners
who were really put out by this requirement to put in these curb cuts
from their sidewalks to their streets and and some of the the complaints might
be familiar to some of you the idea of, “we don’t even have customers in
wheelchairs coming to our store.” And there’s you know the irony there of
course but or why do we need to do this we need to go back and you know it’s
expensive but it turns out we put in curb cuts good that curb cuts end up
being useful to a number of different people and just just for a second let’s
just give you a chance to think about that and shout out some of those use
cases where curb cuts are helpful. Feel free to put them in the chat and then
John you can shout them out or if you want to hop on the mic if you can do
that and shout out your response that way. [John speaking] Yes Sherri just commented strollers
Marisha commented bikes Michael Shelmut commented large deliveries general difficulty in
walking suitcases at the airport from Holly so yeah some really interesting
examples of how those curb cuts benefit everyone. [Christopher speaking] Perfect you guys are right on
top of this and nailed a lot of these most of these were mentioned in the
comments but whether it be you know grocery card strollers luggage
skateboards bikes a number of other ones that were mentioned there as well curb
cuts are just something that are generally universally used by most
people in one context or another. That if the legal requirement for curb cuts were
to go away today they would probably people would still probably keep building
curb cuts just because they make such a difference to so many people
they’re certainly essential and required for somebody who may be with a mobility
who uses a wheelchair or walker or something like that but but something
that is so useful to so many different people and that’s what we really want to
kind of look at as we think about this proactive accessibility as we’re able to
prioritize ourself what kind of work we want to do what are some of those and
this says canvas but it really could be canvas blackboard LMS curb cuts that we
can implement in our online courses that are going to make our content more
accessible more usable and more learnable for everybody. With that let’s look at a
couple of examples first one is going to be captioning and again if you’re doing
any work in the accessibility arena you’re probably you’ve worked with
captions and captions are going to be again essential for students who are
deaf or hard of hearing. Take a second just throw it into the chat again some
of the other valuable or scenarios where captions are useful to other learners as
well where our captions helpful all right. [John speaking] we’ve got some answers coming in
we’ve got a Karina from Emerson College mentioned students watching videos
without headphones or Marisha mentions being in the library with no headphones
speakers with accents places with lots of background noise you can’t have the
sound on searching content for study purposes loud environments and here’s a
nice one from Sue, second language students. [Christopher speaking] perfect good and you can see we
can go on and on but captions are one of those things where we’re getting
requests more and more from from instructors or sometimes students where
there is no accommodation requirement it’s just something that they recognize
as being valuable and useful all those that were mentioned are fantastic they
some of you have seen the interactive transcript players that are increasingly
available in a number of video players and a lot of students to kind of search
for content and skip to it all of these reasons are fantastic kind of an and
make captions valuable to a number of students. We run some analytics on on our
videos to kind of see how many videos are captioned or not just that
are captioned but that how many how often are those captions used and it’s
it’s far beyond just the audience of those who have an accommodation request
and so captions are one of those things so we can kind of think of as an LMS
curb cut something that’s going to be useful to a number of different students
in a number of different scenarios. Now I want to look at another example alt-text this is one that if you go to
any kind of accessibility 101 course that you’re gonna often be exposed to or
share that when you have an image that it’s going to be essential to add alt
text to that image and so that a student who uses assistive technology students
who are blind or low vision this is going to come in handy a lot that alt
text is going to be required for those students however as a user it was
Nicolas on the call today is he under presentation. [John speaking] He is not he is yeah he’s on vacation Yellowstone actually. [Christopher speaking] Good for him that’s fantastic he has some
different thoughts on this and I was gonna let him kind of represent maybe
his thinking but but the idea here is that as you compare you know a caption
video with an alt text now there are scenarios where alt text may be useful
to some users with the disability but for me at least I know in my personal
experience I use captions all the time as a non-disabled user I use captions
all the time and I very rarely use alt text again we don’t I don’t want to
imply at all that alt text isn’t essential that isn’t important for some
users but as we look at that again knowing that we have our reactive
processes in place to make sure alt text is available to those who need it and
then as we consider our proactive work I think there’s a real opportunity to kind
of start to look at different accessibility requirements like
captioning or like alt text to determine where can we get the biggest bang for
our buck how can we make the most difference for the most students and
again this idea is out there a little bit and I’ll go into some other examples
and I’d love to hear feedback as well from and any of you one of one of the
things I think as we as we work within doctors on campus to kind of get them
excited about accessibility beyond just having to do this because of a policy or
requirement but what helping them to really recognize and see the value of
what they’re doing for for all students and so for some faculty we have they
really get accessibility and they’re gonna go into every PowerPoint and make
every image add alt text to every image and that’s fantastic some of them though
we’re starting with they’re really not recognizing the value of accessibility
at all and and and when I start the conversation by saying look go into all
your powerpoints and add alt text to all your images just in case someday you
have a student who might need that it doesn’t necessarily drive their
motivation as much as as some other things and again this is such a
conversation I feel a little bit nervous about because I don’t want to in any way
devalue the the importance of that work and how essential it is going to be for
a lot of students but also recognizing just that as we started with this work
how can we help instructors recognize some things that they can do today in
their course that they’re gonna recognize are going to have an impact
for all of their students. Let’s just look at a couple of those types of
things I’m not going to go into examples of other items that I think are less
valuable you know as you go through the Ally list though I think you can do some
of that work on your own and it may be different more valuable for instructors
and students across the board versus some of those things that are going to
be less valuable for everybody. Some of them that I think though some
accessibility requirements and here we have the WCAG reference there in
parentheses to the accessibility guideline from the web content
accessibility guidelines these are some things that that make them that are a
big deal for accessibility that also I think make a big difference as far as making our courses is more usable for everyone. The first one I have listed there is
consistent navigation use of headings in your course content whether that be
within the LMS or within documents Helpful link text is such a big one we
have so often where we have click here or click this which is is obviously not
going to be accessible but it is also problematic for so many students to kind
of know where the link is going to. Color contrast is another one you know we have our instructional designers recognize this one as a as a great way to for some
of our instructors who have maybe a little bit more creativity in in their
course content and sometimes might use colors that are just I mean not only not
accessible but just just a poor user experience as far as you know light gray
on dark grey or just ugly colors and or different colors on every page and we
can sometimes bring accessibility in as a way to help corral those into
something that’s a little bit more usable. That last one the official name
is something different but but I want to talk a little bit about PDF files that
don’t suck that was a big one for us here at Utah State as we look across
again that spring semester we had almost a hundred thousand PDF files that was
about 25% of our overall content it’s by far the the most popular type of content
across our courses maybe let pause well right here before I go on to this
PDF stuff. Any comments or questions from from anybody on the call
today. [John speaking] we did have a comment from Sherri just mentioning that she really
likes the term using curb cuts and applying this more broadly to to these
to these other best practices and we also have a Paula, going back to the
to the why alt text would be beneficial to all students
and she mentions that images may have a meaning that may not be readily apparent
to all students I think that is a really interesting one when you think about
students coming from different cultures or different places around the globe how
do they understand the symbolism and images and things like that that may be
outside of their cultural vantage points Sue Doner also mentions images
alt tags consideration thinking whether it’s functional or decorative so so
being mindful about making the distinction about when it’s purely for
for decorative purposes or when it’s you know when it’s actually meaningful
or pertinent to the content. [Christopher speaking] Thank you those are great comments and
that’s one thing that and to represent kind of the conversation I’ve had a
little bit with Nicolaas on this is that there really is a potential for alt text
on images I think to be useful and used by other people I mean one of the
challenges right now is that they exist in code only right and so unless the
student knows how to view the source of a webpage or look at alt text or are
likely to do so they’re probably not going to to be exposed to what that alt
text is. I mean there are ideas as far as if you’re using alt text in the
way of like an image caption with the caption element that’s the type of
thing that absolutely is I think a lot more useful to consider for everyone and
not just students using screen readers for example and generally I think I’m
just referring to that alt text that is just within the code and that certainly
again is there for somebody who knows how to use it maybe in some contexts or
if you’re on a low bandwidth scenario where your images aren’t showing up
again it’s it’s certainly not that it can’t be useful it’s just kind of
weighing the comparative usefulness of alt text in HTML versus some of these
other types of accommodations but again that’s something that that I don’t want
to declare anything as being unuseful or or something that you shouldn’t do is
just looking at a potential framework that we can consider when is something
going to be more useful or less useful to
a lot of students. Another example might be you know adding language on a PDF
document again that’s an official accessibility requirement but generally
irrelevant even for users of assistive technology where it generally is able to
identify the language itself it doesn’t mean that it’s still not a requirement
that it might be useful in some things but if I have a choice if I have an hour
of free time and have a choice to either add language to the language to a PDF
file or go on captions and videos I’m gonna probably do that thing that where
I’m gonna make feel like I can make the most difference and kind of just help
move the conversation ahead thank you though good comments let me jump ahead
to these PDFs and look at some of these again so this is this is a big part of
our course content I think and I don’t know for sure I haven’t been in higher
ed for a long time some of you may know better than I but that PDF used to be
kind of held up as a standard or a best practice so we had all kinds of things
of teachers converting perfectly accessible you know Word files or
PowerPoint documents into inaccessible PDF files or sometimes it’s PDF files
that have been copied or handed down from professor to student over generations
but let’s just look at a couple of examples of this the kind of PDF content
but these are all from courses here at Utah State that we find so let’s look at
a few of these PDFs that do suck here’s just the first example and this is
probably fairly common I don’t know if any of you are tilting your head to the
left right now we see quite a few of these where they’re copied it this way
we do also have fortunately ones that go to the right as well so students don’t
get a you know crick in their neck but but these are fairly common and and you
know you for maybe a tech-savvy student it’s going to be quick and easy to
rotate that or to do it differently but but a lot of instructors don’t take the
time or maybe know how to do that so we have a lot of PDFs that are off to one
side or the other or sometimes all the way completely upside down we find find
this on occasion that’s another example of a PDF file
from a course here’s another one that I grabbed it’s a PDF file and if you
squint really hard you can sort of make out some of the words but even if you
zoom in there this is just not a very readable content again not only is that
not going to be accessible but but it’s just not going to be usable for anybody
irony here on this one if you look up here on the title of this book it came
from is designing challenging curriculum somebody kind of you know a little bit
too it’s app to the content I guess for the for the type of PDF file that it is
and even where you have a nice clean PDF and that these are also going to be
found across a lot of our courses when you open that up on your mobile device
you’re gonna either be have something like this you know where it’s gonna be
very small text that you have to zoom in and then you’re zooming in and you’re
going back and forth and back and forth. On a 20-page document that’s a lot of
back and forth and back and forth. Again this is the most common type of content
these PDF files across all of our canvas courses and and I think a lot of
accessibility professionals spend a lot of time thinking about how can we
remediate or make these PDF files accessible now you can do that work and
and and I don’t want to discourage anybody from doing that but as we as we
kind of started looking into that the time it took to remediate a file we were
able to do some different work and this really came about from from starting
to play with Ally but the idea here is that you take a less accessible PDF file
download the Ally the HTML from Ally and instead of taking time to fix up the PDF
document you just turn that into a nice clean HTML content within your LMS this
is in canvas here but you can see that the difference real quick there from
again a PDF that it’s not only inaccessible but just has all the
problems for all users to something that is now accessible but also very usable.
Again that process we just take the PDF download the HTML from Ally you can if
you don’t have a lie I think most of the on the call probably do but something
like ABBYY FineReader as well does this work fairly well it doesn’t have all of
the you know machine learning and some of the additional special sauce that
Ally adds you’re able to convert that to an HTML file and then just taking a
little bit of time to clean up the HTML but again Ally often is going to pull in
a lot of the semantic elements on its own depending on the quality of the HTML
and we found that it doesn’t take much more or even sometimes less time to
create a clean HTML document than it does to clean up a PDF file for those of
you that have done PDF remediation work I just you know it’s the kind of thing I
wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy it’s such a complex as you get into tags and
it’s a lot of the it requires a very specialized set of knowledge that its
something we just don’t expect or ask of our instructors to do in general anyways, where this is something that becomes a little bit more doable especially if
you’re doing the HTML in the WYSIWYG editor. Here’s just another quick example
of a PDF document that we that we turn into a nice clean HTML page and this is
something that as soon as you open it on your mobile device you’re gonna have a
beautiful responsive HTML document that’s going to be easy to read so it’s
going to be mobile-friendly. This is also going to in canvas at least you’re able
to track usage of HTML documents a lot better than you are able to track usage
of PDF files and so there’s some advantages there and then if any edits
need to be made or you need to annotate it it’s it’s going to be a lot easier to
do any comments or questions on that PDF to HTML workflow? Sorry
go ahead. [John speaking} yeah well Krista just agreed +1 wouldn’t
wish on my worst and for the remediating of the pdfs and
obviously on the Ally said we very much agree and we don’t really provide a
lot of that instructor feedback information to instructors on how to tag
because it is such a steep learning curve. [Chris speaking] yeah
and this process so as far as just giving an instructor the the HTML even
if it’s not perfect right in the WYSIWYG editor that’s a lot easier of an
interface for them to go through and either add headings or just correct
typos whatever that might be so far we’ve done this for hundred plus files
I don’t know exactly but the feedback from both students and faculty has been
very positive and we’re really excited about it and so and sometimes we will
still link to the PDF as you can see here and so the inaccessible or less
accessible PDF might still be available we at that point often don’t take the
time to make the PDF accessible we have an accessible clean version and
sometimes we’re able to eliminate the PDF completely. I’ve been surprised
at how often our instructors will put things like instructions for an
assignment but then they’ll save it as a PDF file and upload it was just again
doesn’t make a lot of sense but but it’s something that there’s a lot of content
out there in that format we’re able to just convert that over to a canvas page
and there’s really no need for the PDF file anymore. Need to show you one other
thing I want to talk about that as we got into our Ally pilot and started
trying things out and saw how much content there was it was really kind of
overwhelming to consider all of the files and so one of the things we did we
used canvas data and I don’t know if this is as much of an issue for for
blackboard it sounds like blackboard maybe has some tools that provide some
support for this but with canvas you there’s really not a way to tell if a
file is being used in a course or not and so we ran some numbers and this is
looking at some of these old irrelevant files and so in a lot of our courses we had
not only the current year syllabus maybe in a PDF file but also all of the the
PDF syllabi from previous years that’s just one
little example but as we looked across all of our content it was less than half
of the content that was stored in courses that Ally was evaluating that
our Disability Resource Center was having to remediate was be actually
being used in courses and the only way to kind of figure out what that was was
to go through page by page identify which files had links and so so we built
a tool and I’m gonna go ahead and jump out and do a quick demo in canvas that helps us to identify that content that’s in
use versus content that isn’t in use and then be able to delete those files that
aren’t in use so let me go ahead and just jump out real quick
this tool is currently only available you know we built it as a just on our
campus but we’re working on making it available more broadly there is a link
in that reference document to a canvas post for anyone who is a canvas user. If
you’re interested in this tool or using it on your campus feel free to go make a
quick note or leave a comment there but basically the idea of the tool in this
course it’s just a demo course but there’s only a few of the courses that
are being actually used it’ll go through and determine if there’s a link to a
file but then you can see more generally there’s all these files that aren’t
being used and so I can come over here and maybe do a search for PDF files. I
can see all the PDF files that aren’t being used
let me find ones a little bit now let’s look at our doc files these are all the
doc files that are in the course but that are no longer being used
I can select those click delete and it’ll quickly go through and it does
take a minute where at this point I’m deleting 61 of these unused files. it’ll
it’ll show me the status of that and then but then what I’ve done basically
is eliminated 61 files so we ever have to care about your accessibility in the
future that’s going to have sometimes an immediate effect on our overall on the
Ally score for that course or even overall scores and we’re talking about
deleting hundreds and even thousands of files across a number of courses the
other thing we’re able to do as well sometimes is look at the the files that
are in use and then we can click on that to say and get a quick view of where
that’s being used again this is just a demo course but I can say oh yep I’m
using that file here and I can choose to either again make it accessible or talk
to the instructor about whether it’s needed and then the other thing the tool
does is I don’t think I have any empty folders in this course but it’ll also
identify where I have empty folders okay and I do have three I can go ahead and
delete those empty folders from my file section as well. And this is a tool that
we initially built as a based on a need from our Disability Resource Center they
were just so frustrated with having, with being given a course and knowing that a
student in that course needed to make all of their files accessible and not
knowing which files they had to focus on and so we built it for that group but
since we’ve done that it’s one of these tools that has been just incredibly well
received across campus so many instructors were really anxious and
grateful for an opportunity to be able to clean out all of these old and unused
folders from I mean we’ve been using canvas since I think 2011 but before that
blackboard and WebCT and there were files from you know clear back a decade
ago that were still in these classes being able to get rid of all
those files extra files has made things easier for our disability office but for
everybody. Okay that’s again that that tool and again if you’re interested in
that and then check out that link leave a comment in the post on the canvas
community and we’ll share more resource on that as we as we go forward. Another
big one this is related to the the PDF content I won’t go a lot into detail
here but one of the things we’ve done recently is we kind of identified our
top 25 courses you know across this semester the
students use and we’re just identifying kind of common problems that those
courses have that we can go in and fix and I’ve been just surprised at how many
instructors and maybe some of you can relate to this but take again a
PowerPoint file that is at least somewhat accessible and and they’ll save
it as a six slides to a page in a PDF file that is something that’s and I
don’t even have a sample of this to bring up right here that it is not only
no longer accessible but is also just not as usable I mean you’ll have slides
that are have a whole you know all kinds of words on them that are shrunk down
and at some point a lot of instructors were told this was kind of best practice or
something they should do maybe PDF was a more universal format but but they’ve
they’re doing that instead of offering the PowerPoint file and so so it’s a
it’s a great opportunity for us to then have conversations with those teachers
to say hey why don’t you just offer the PowerPoint file directly to the students
if they really want to also make that available but but we can also share that
if students want to print that off for themselves they can do so and they can
do it with two slides per page four slides per page or whatever they want to
do and so just encouraging the use of native files whenever possible is
something that that I think is it’s just a big deal and it’s I think there used
to be more of a challenge with maybe having a PowerPoint file in a student
not having access to PowerPoint and anymore I think that’s generally going
to be irrelevant whether that’s accessing PowerPoint on a campus
computer or even being able to upload it into Microsoft or to Google Drive
there’s just so many other there’s so many ways the student can access a
PowerPoint file that there’s just really not much of a reason for for teachers to
do that and this is one where when they when they hear that from us that a lot
of times they’re so grateful because the current workflow is to save a to make a
change in a PowerPoint file save it as a PDF upload the PDF to your LMS and then
again you need to make a change you then save it as PDF use and it’s just such a
remember some extra step that just makes things less usable in general for
everybody as well as less accessible and so that’s what we focused on a lot as
well. [John speaking] Christopher one question that came in I don’t know if you’ve
tested this much but have you looked at PowerPoint on on mobile devices and in
how well that plays on mobile. [Christopher speaking] Yeah I’ve done some testing on that I’ve found
that there I mean it’s certainly better than the the PDF file and then I think
it’s going to depend a lot on the whether you’re accessing it on an iOS
device or an Android device and then also whether you’re accessing it within
like the LMS app or the browser but generally I found that PowerPoint files
open up just fine and are able to be fairly responsive to the environment and
I don’t have any example I could just pull up right now and if some of you
test that and find otherwise I mean I’d love to hear that but the testing I’ve
done which is somewhat limited I found that powerpoints open up great on a on a
mobile device okay. Another one I won’t I’m just gonna kind
of skip through these slides quickly but is just again headings and helping people to understand how headings work the difference between having a for a
user with assistive technology having or any user just looking at a big this is
the same text on this text file versus here and how much value headings add to
all of us but then making sure that when we do that we’re actually using headings
in Microsoft Word or in Google Drive and that’s another easy one where the value
of headings is one that so many people know that that exists maybe they’ve
never used that part though but once people start using headings actual
headings rather than just making their text bigger and bolding it make such a
difference and it can make it easier as far as editing a document doing an
outline of a document there’s just a lot of value to doing that
beyond accessibility yeah I use Google Drive a lot and always just turn
on this outline view and it helps me to get a quick view of a document and
navigate that that kind of thing is only available through headings can just wanted to spend a minute on that one the other big thing I think that that we
try to do is I’ve been able to some of the conversations we’ve had with faculty and
and even though faculty are tenured faculty even have all kinds of
publications but you bring up the topic of accessibility and sometimes they’re
just a little bit nervous even some I had a you know a professor who now a
good friend that had done some work on accessibility but he was really nervous
just just to reach out and ask for help because he was worried he was doing it
wrong or hadn’t and just letting people know that that this accessibility work
we’re doing is always just gonna be a journey and so there’s always going to
be something more you can do with accessibility for sure but there’s
always something small that you can do today that’s going to make your content
more useful for some students and just trying to take off and ease the anxiety
that some people feel about compliance or being doing whether they’re breaking
a law or gonna get sued and just letting people know that you know for the most
part we have systems and resources in place to help you when there’s that
accommodation request this other work we’re doing is just work that you can do
to become a better teacher and help your students out in general it’s this idea
of inclusion and and and diversity and making sure that we’re tapping into
offices or efforts or initiatives on campus that are talking about inclusion
whether it’s inclusion of any type right and making sure the accessibility and
students with disabilities or students with different learning preferences are
part of that conversation one of the the ways that we think about this sometimes
is it’s been helpful I think as we and that
a lot of professors can really recognize and identify with is this you know in
the u.s. at least if you go back fifty to sixty years it used to be that that
individuals with disabilities were generally excluded from society and from
the classroom right is that you had school maybe for students without
disabilities in an entirely separate school, if there was a school at all
and in some cases there wasn’t for students with disabilities and then we
came into this idea of mainstreaming where we would say let’s maybe bring
those students with disabilities into the same classroom and this is generally
the kind of atmosphere that my oldest brother Patrick started in started with
in grade school where he was in the same school but in a separate classroom and
they kind of did their own thing had their own classes maybe got together at
lunch type of a thing but were generally separated and we started talking about
inclusion and bringing students with disabilities into the classroom and this
is something that’s that’s that’s been a great step and it’s where a lot of us
are still at as far as working to make our course content inclusive but I
really think there’s even a step kind of beyond inclusion where we start we
stopped thinking about purple squares or green circles and we just recognize
more and more the that we’re all students or we’re all human beings we
all want to learn we all learn in different ways and that a lot of this
work that we can do around captioning around headings around a lot of this
kind of accessibility work is really going to be, it’s just good teaching
it’s good usability it’s going to make you a better teacher it’s going to allow
all of your students to perform a little bit better in your classroom and and
that kind of framing of the issue has really helped us with a lot of our
conversations here and so just in wrapping up and then we’ll leave time
for any more questions that anybody might have but reactive compliance is
essential if you’re getting started with accessibility you have to start there you have to make
sure the taking care of the specific
needs of specific students with disabilities but even if your
primary concern is for students with disabilities to recognize that there are
always going to be a significant number of students with disabilities on your
campus that you never know about that never register with the office never
submit any accommodation requests so as we are to get a handle on that reactive
compliance for just working more and more on this proactive inclusion this is
a tremendous way to get people excited about accessibility and and start to see the
work of inclusion as being important and valuable for all of their students and
as you kind of get people their foot in the door on that you can then find
more and more of your accessibility champions individuals who really care
about this work and that really want to do more of it to really working towards
moving towards a more inclusive campus and just sometimes for me at least
and this is just it a little bit vulnerable I guess but one of the things
that I sometimes have struggled with even as an accessibility advocate is to
go in and I sit down with a professor and they are just spent right I mean
they’ve got 200 papers they have to grade by in three days and they’ve got
all these committee assignments missing with students and all these challenges
and I say hey I’ve got one more thing to add to your pile and sometimes I found
myself kind of struggling with that even internally and saying like how can I
help them feel like this is more important when you know they’ve got so
much going on and to make help them make this a priority and as we can kind of
focus on those things that that are really going to benefit all of those
students it’s just an incredible way to start those conversations and to get
people yeah started on the path to
more accessible courses so that’s been really helpful in just the way I frame
the issues and the attitude I bring into those conversations. With that I just
want to wrap up and then if there’s any other questions anybody has please do
feel free to go to that document for additional resources John did have a
post on the community about this I’m also happy to kind of follow up with any
questions there if we want to have any discussion but I’ll
wrap up it there I’m gonna stop sharing my screen unless there’s any questions
about anything I’ve shared and jump over to the chat for the next part of this
[John speaking] Thanks thanks so much Christopher I wish we
could give you a round of applause but I don’t know how that works on a a webinar
but really informative really nice view into some of these accessibility best
practices there you go Eric yeah we’ve got virtual emoji applause going nice. [Christopher speaking] thank you so much if anybody does have questions or wants to talk about anything you know
I’m happy to talk probably more than you want to listen and so I always love
having these conversations questions from Paula I just saw you had issues
with courses that are offered online that use inaccessible technology
especially courses that offer lab like experiences absolutely you know and so
they’ll sometimes be and I’m going to speak specifically to a course that
might use a separate type of software and maybe it’s to do a virtual
dissection of a mouse or whatever type of a thing you know and that’s one again
where this conversation comes into place and helps us with our prioritization is
that where we have an accommodation request for a course like
that then it’s top priority right we have to figure out a way to make sure
that experience is going to be accessible however if we don’t have that
accommodation request in yet on that course then it may be something where we
raise it with the professor let them know there may be issues with that
technology but not necessarily spend all of the time trying to make that
accessible that we would if there was an accommodation request and instead we’d
maybe focus on all your documents in that course usable and accessible do you have
your PowerPoint your videos captioned things like that and so the goal isn’t
going to be necessarily a hundred percent accessibility across all those
courses but just are they usable and and is there a way to make them accessible you know if for when the need comes up
that answers your question but that’s kind of the strategy we take. Publisher
materials is a great question you know so how do we deal with those those
publisher materials and so this is the idea that Pearson for example might have
a textbook that you the faculty will use the LTI connection so students can go to
go to canvas but then go out to the publisher access those materials I mean
first of all reach out to the publisher fortunately more and more publishers are
at least aware of accessibility and I’ve found often that when we’re able to
reach out to them and say we have an accommodation request in this course
this student can’t use your materials unless alt-text are added to all the
images for example many of those organizations have their own internal
prioritization system that that’s able to kind of help them make their content
more accessible now again this is assuming and most of the major
publishers are going to be a little bit more responsive that way where that’s,
sometimes we’re even finding that materials are accessible to start with where that’s not the case I mean there’s other things and you can do in ways you can
work on capturing or making that materials accessible that I probably
would share be better shared in an email rather than on the webcast that’s going to
be published but but we do feel a lot of leeway to kind of make something
accessible for a specific student in a specific situation even if it requires going outside the lines a little bit
in what we need to do and so but certainly reach out to those to the
publisher first off and there’s other great resources that are out there that
take publisher materials and help them making them accessible as well
and if you have questions about specific things or whatnot please do shoot me an
email and happy to to get that for you as far as untagged documents from library
databases and again libraries or many of the vendors that provide documents to
libraries are doing a better and better job of making their content accessible
but there’s a lot of it that isn’t and so we do find though often that the
library often has a more accessible version than what a professor is using
in a course. So many of the professors course materials are going to be from
when they were a student maybe and so a lots and encourage them to go to the
library to start and then from there it will just download the library material
and then either make that document accessible or in some cases convert that
document to an HTML document because yeah they’re certainly not perfect and
there’s a lot of room for improvement there but we would often just download
that document and then either make it accessible or use Ally to convert it
to HTML make sure it’s accessible that way. Any other questions? I just added
that link again be more than happy to chat with anybody if you have questions
later as a follow up but if there’s no more questions thank you so much to
everybody for coming and for the great questions I appreciate your time today
[John speaking] Yes thank you everybody so much and again thank you Christopher for taking
the time and walking us through some of these great strategies it’s really
exciting to see and thank you as always for your contributions to the user group
community it really it really brings a lot and so we’re all very appreciative
of the time that you take and so the recording, we we will make it
available on the user group site if you want to revisit the recording and
otherwise I hope to see you at the next one on
October 3rd so yeah thanks everybody!

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