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Examining the Accessible Mobile Reading Revolution (W)

Title slide: Examining the accessible mobile reading revolution
Title slide: Examining the accessible mobile reading revolution In our series of free weekly webinars March 24th, 2021, saw a session focused on accessible mobile content from a variety of different perspectives. The adoption of mobile reading practices have become increasingly important over the last year and accessibility of this type of content has never been more important. This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Erin Lucas, RedShelf
  • Darrin Evans, Wake Tech
  • Stacy Ray, VitalSource
  • Robin Spinks, RNIB

Session Overview

This webinar presented us with 4 perspectives

The View From a College

Darrin Evans talked to us about mobile learning from the student’s perspective and showed us that learning via mobile content is fast becoming a staple method of content access for today’s students. A recent survey showed that 40% of students currently access educational materials via mobile (10% via desktop and 45% via laptop). Mobile is clearly of import in an educational environment and, at this point in the webinar, a poll was launched to get delegates’ views on whether “Learners need a laptop to be a serious student”. Colleges need mobile responsive content that is accessible and usable – mobile responsive accessible textbooks and class materials.

Vital Source:  Where Learning is Already Mobile

Stacy Ray told us that currently over 2 million students are already accessing VitalSource content via mobile apps for a number of reasons:
  • Mobile offers portability and flexibility to study offline which is convenient
  • This mobile-first generation is used to mobile learning
  • Mobile usage has been affected by at-home learning
with some learners using mobile as their sole method of accessing content although not all experiences directly translate e.g. PDF doesn’t translate as well as EPUB.

Features that Make a Difference to Mobile Accessibility

  • Table of Contents
  • Highlight
  • Search
  • Read Aloud
  • Display Controls (background color, fonts etc)
All of these features are in the top 5 features used in mobile applications (as is the case with desktop and laptop browser based learning also)

Building Accessible Apps

Building an accessible app at VitalSource is a shared responsibility company-wide beginning with good design, which doesn’t directly replicate the desktop experience. The app is specifically designed and tested for mobile whilst ensuring that consistency is up-held across the variety of experiences on offer. Testing is conducted with users who are primary mobile users, making sure that the experience is intuitive. The whole process is really no harder than building a web-based platform so long as you keep up to date with the latest tools and features that the OS releases.

RedShelf: Our Journey to Mobile Begins

Erin Lucas explained that RedShelf’s focus has been traditionally based around browser-based reading experiences and in late 2019 they turned their attention to mobile. This was before the onset of the 2020 pandemic when the need for mobile learning experiences became apparent quickly!

Mobile is Here to Stay

Learning everywhere quickly became the norm in 2020 with feedback from DSOs confirming that WIFI access is often an issue and that mobile is the way forward for many learners. Digital natives are resourceful and by the beginning of the Fall term the app had been installed 12k times and tripled in time for the Spring term, without any promotion or proper launch!

A11y Considerations for Mobile

A11y First is a huge part of everything that RedShelf does and they have learned that an accessible desktop experience doesn’t necessarily translate to the mobile experience. Hybrid apps can be more challenging than native apps for instance. Content needs to be accessible and responsive, reinforcing the advantages of the EPUB format.

Measuring Up

Robin Spinks discussed whether accessibility features on mobile are up to the mark, encouraging us all to check out our personal devices after the webinar to find out how to access specific features and become comfortable with enabling the built-in functionality:

Visual Adjustments

  • Built-in magnifier
  • Colour inversion
  • EPUB apps can adjust: font, text size, colors and spacing

Read Aloud

  • Speak selection / speak screen
  • Select to speak
  • EPUB reading apps may have read aloud features or can use the integrated features

Screen Reader

  • VoiceOver
  • TalkBack / Voice Assistant / Voice View
  • Support for text, image descriptions, heading navigation, lists etc
  • Support in tables is ok
  • Support for math is limited

In Conclusion: Where is all this Going?

  • Investment is heading to mobile
  • Devices and services are getting smarter
  • Voice control and intelligent assistants are playing a huge role
  • Merging of desktop and mobile
Finally – the poll results – “Learners need a laptop to be a serious student”…
  • Strongly Disagree: 8%
  • Disagree: 33%
  • Neither Agree or Disagree: 24%
  • Agree: 31%
  • Strongly Agree: 4%

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Word Document Accessibility 101 (W)

Word Document Accessibility 101 opening slide

Word Document Accessibility 101 opening slideContinuing our series of free weekly webinars March 10th, 2021, saw a practical workshop-style session focused on the accessibility of word documents. In our webinar series we’ve looked closely at how to convert accessible word documents to the EPUB file format but not in-depth at the word documents themselves. This session does just this.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Erin Williams, Microsoft
  • Kirsi Ylanne, CELIA
  • Prashant Verma, The DAISY Consortium

Session Overview

Why Accessibility?

Erin Williams, Program Manager at Microsoft, explained why it is so important for our “connected” society to be as inclusive as possible so that technology can ensure that everyone is able to connect. We must design for accessibility for everyone.

Once you start thinking inclusively, it becomes second nature

Microsoft Accessibility and Word

Microsoft’s mission is to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”. This integrated approach is applied throughout the organization – the culture, the systems, products and plans for the future – as they seek how to better serve their customers, MS Word has built-in accessibility features to support and encourage accessibility. The techniques described in this webinar apply to Windows, MacOS and Online versions of Word.

Demo of Accessibility Barriers and Solutions

Kirsi Ylanne and Prashant Verma described 3 significant barriers to accessibility that are encountered and gave detailed examples of just how challenging these can be to document access:

  1. Text content as an Image: If text is displayed as an image it cannot be read aloud or via a braille display
  2. No Heading Structure: Without any built-in structure a document becomes un-navigable
  3. Missing Image Descriptions: Without alt text or image descriptions a screen reader cannot describe images, tables and other graphic content.

Word Document Structure

Kirsi talked us through 3 areas that are crucial for word document accessibility:

  1. Applying Heading Styles: via the navigation pane. Do not rely on the visual layout of your document to denote headings as a screen reader will be looking under the hood of the document in order to inform the reader.
  2. Lists: Make sure you use the proper bullet point or numbered list features
  3. Avoid using the textbox feature and place a border around a paragraph if you need to

Graphics, Tables and Content Considerations

Graphics

To further improve the accessibility of a word document Kirsi showed us how to:

  • Make sure that images are placed inline so that screen readers can access the alt text
  • Add alternative descriptions, thinking about the purpose of the image. Don’t repeat text, rather focus on the information that the image is conveying in a given context. Watch the demo here for how to insert your alt text within the word document.
  • Decorative Images. You can mark an image as decorative if it doesn’t contain any relevant information.

Tables

Prashant showed us how to make sure tables are accessible, reminding us to:

  • Keep tables as simple as possible so that screen readers can decipher them
  • Use tables for tabular data, not lists
  • Mark row headings correctly so that they can be identified by screen readers  – Prashant shows us how to do this

Other Content Considerations

Prashant referred to the following issues also which must be considered in terms of document accessibility:

  • Headers and footers. Assistive technology sometimes has difficulty detecting content here so it’s good practice not to include important information or make sure it is repeated in the main body of the content. This material can also be lost when the file is converted into another file type.
  • The document language should be identified so that screen readers can voice words appropriately.
  • Footnotes and endnotes should be included using the MSWord features provided. Manual insertion of these results in an inaccessible document.
  • Display text for links should clearly state what it is that is being linked to so that assistive technology can read out a meaningful link to the reader, rather than a URL or a generic term that isn’t clearly describing the link.

Testing for Accessibility

Kirsi gave a demo of how to run the accessibility checker that is available within MSWord (under the Review tab). The results of the checker highlight errors and warnings that should be worked through.  One very common error is missing alt text and by highlighting these errors the focus of the document will guide the user to its location.

Conclusions

  • Making your document accessible also benefits other documents you generate from it
  • Accessibility techniques help you to be more efficient
  • Usability is better for all your readers (and is very often a legal requirement)

It is well worth spending the time watching the video recording of this webinar which includes practical how-to demos of everything mentioned here.

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Implementing Extended Descriptions in Digital Publications, Best Practices and Practical Advice (W)

Implementing Extended Descriptions webinar title slide

Implementing Extended Descriptions webinar title slideIn our series of free weekly webinars February 24th saw a session focused on extended descriptions which followed on nicely from our series on The Art and Science of Image Description. Our speakers were able to give practical advice on what works for them and what is coming up – lots to think about and takeaway!

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • George Kerscher, The DAISY Consortium
  • Charles La Pierre, Benetech
  • Evan Yamanishi, W.W. Norton and Co

Session Overview

When Alt Text is Not Enough

There are many occasions when the alt text option doesn’t provide enough scope and the addition of an extended description is a necessary inclusion in order to properly convey the meaning of an image or complex graphic. George Kerscher explained to us how extended descriptions can add value to this type of content and add clarity and meaning in a given context.

3 Techniques for Delivery

Comprehensive Description Following the Image

This type of delivery would appear immediately after the image, inline. As it cannot be skipped, these descriptions can interrupt the flow of the page for the reader.

Summary and Expandable Details

This type of description remains hidden until expanded by the reader, revealing the details. It is easy to move past without reading if not required. Unfortunately, some reading apps do not support the “details” element.

Linked Description

This type of description can be accessed by following a link to the end of the book where the image is reproduced and the full extended description can be accessed. Ideally the link will take you back to where you came from originally (a feature that has just been refined) although some assistive technology doesn’t quite get you to the right spot!

George shared with us his own personal preferences. Generally he likes the Summary and Details approach but the linked approach is growing on him! Traditionally his screen reader would take him back to the start rather than where the link was but these “deep linking” issues are improving and he is becoming a fan.

Demos in HTML and EPUB

Charles La Pierre gave a comprehensive demonstration of the various techniques for handling extended descriptions using the browser, Vital Source’s Bookshelf, Apple Books and Thorium. Quite a difference and well worth watching these in the attached video!

Publisher Perspective

Evan Yamanishi spoke to us about how to optimize the use of extended descriptions to enhance the reader’s experience through personalization and progressive enhancement. It is important to give the reader an option to choose how content is displayed to best suit them and the same technique could be used for extended descriptions. At W.W. Norton they prepare and ship content with standard mark up and javascript so that items may be enhanced if the reading system allows. This satisfies most systems but he did note that the underlying semantics of how the markup is prepared has to be standardized. This is vital.

Why Extended Descriptions are Required

George reminded us of conformance requirements in:

  • WCAG
  • EPUB Accessibility Specification 1.1 where it will be a requirement
  • European Accessibility Act which comes into play in 2025

Publishers are indeed using extended descriptions as part of their econtent materials and it has been wonderful to see this happening.

Related Resources

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The Art and Science of Describing Images Part Three (W)

Art of Science of Describing Images part 3 cover slide

Art of Science of Describing Images part 3 title slideIn our series of free webinars February 10th saw the 3rd session focusing on image description: in the series entitled, The Art and Science of Describing Images. This webinar focused on 3 specific types of complex images with speakers Huw Alexander and Valerie Morrison showing us all how they approach these seemingly daunting areas.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Valerie Morrison—Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation at Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Huw Alexander—textBOX Digital

Session Overview

Huw Alexander opened this session by giving us a brief resume of what the webinar will cover. Continuing on from Part Two of this series this session will focus on 3 specific types of complex image: Artwork, Anatomy and Assessment.

Artwork

As with all images, Valerie advocates beginning with an overview of the artwork piece, the title together with a brief resume of the main components. For a more complex description it is imperative to consider the context for which you need the description. This may include:

  • The painting style
  • The color and composition
  • The style of the figures
  • Allegorical messaging
  • Influences
  • Historical notes

To include all of these notes within your alt text image description would be far too much and if there is a need for lengthy content here then it is better to write an extended description.

Huw explained “Sector Description” – by breaking down a painting into sections you can take the reader on a journey. This can be done in a number of ways: linear, clock face style, compass etc. Using this approach helps to create an immersive experience for the reader.

Valerie and Huw used some excellent examples to demonstrate how effective these techniques can be when describing complex images.

Anatomy

Making sure that you convey the relevant and precise elements of an anatomical image is likely to be an exacting process. Valerie made the point that you have to think very carefully about what to include in your description, because simply labelling all the parts often isn’t good enough. It doesn’t take into consideration the context in which the image is being used and it is far more useful to consider the following:

  • The name of the structure itself
  • The shape
  • The location
  • Proximity

Huw’s sectoring approach works very well with anatomical images, deciding what needs to be retained and considering the visual impact of the image itself.

Assessment

Images that are used in assessments, quizzes and tests can be extremely hard to recreate in description form and Valerie suggested that assessors consider an egalitarian approach here. By thinking of alternative ways to test knowledge you may be far more successful in creating a useful testing scenario. The example used was a geography question on the silhouettes of countries and the following might work equally well:

  • Questions about the size and shapes of countries
  • An essay question
  • Tactile graphics

All of these would test knowledge in various ways and offer an alternative to the silhouette question!

 

Related Resources

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Do More With WordToEPUB (W)

Do more with WordToEPUB opening slide

Do more with WordToEPUB opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars December 9th saw a session focused on WordToEPUB.  Following on from earlier webinars, this event gave us a quick refresh, a summary of currently supported EPUB features and then delved into what is new and what we can expect in the future from this ground-breaking software.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Kirsi Yianne, Celia, guest host
  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium
  • Joseph Polizzotto, UC Berkeley

Session Overview

Richard Orme reminded us of the benefits of WordToEPUB with a quick refresh at the beginning of the webinar. WordToEPUB is free to download and use.  If you can start with an accessible structured word document you will end up with a beautiful EPUB that can be used on any platform or reading app.

Supported EPUB Features

WordToEPUB currently supports many EPUB features and these include”

  • Navigation
  • Semantics
  • Accessibility: images and alt text, navigating tables, inline language markup, MathML, low vision friendly fonts

What’s New in Version 1.05

Version 1.05 released this month includes the following new features:

New Default Style Sheets

Available out of the box for new installations of WordToEPUB, new default style sheets improve the visual presentation of the EPUB. Including features such as justification options, superscript reference numbers, improved paragraph spacing and better leading the new style sheet option needs to be manually selected for versions of WordToEPUB before 1.05

Faster More Reliable Language Detection

If the user makes sure that the correct languages have been selected within their Word document then WordToEPUB is able to use the improved algorithms to detect language changes, improving the reading experience for readers using Read Aloud or screen readers.

New Options for Page Numbers

Print page tags and custom indicators are now supported, enabling quick and easy navigation to specific locations within the document based on their print page equivalent.

Optional Metadata Summary Page

Ensuring accurate metadata is embedded within EPUB files is recommended good practice, and WordToEPUB now offers the ability to generate a metadata summary page at the end of the EPUB  document to expose this useful information, including a summary of accessibility.

Edit with Sigil

WordToEPUB now offers the workflow option to automatically open the converted EPUB in the Sigil EPUB editor to make any adjustments to the document.

New Quality Assurance Wizard

Another workflow addition allows for the use of a QA wizard after conversion. This wizard is comprised of 4 steps:

  1. Validate the file with EPUBCheck
  2. Launch Ace by DAISY for automated accessibility testing
  3. Check the experience in a reading app – Thorium is a suggested option
  4. Manually check the file for anything further

New Option to Generate Clean HTML Version

This option has been added to the preferences dialog (“select other output formats”) and is often used when shorter articles or book segments need converting as they can be opened directly within a web browser. The underlying semantic level is excellent although it doesn’t have as many stylistic functions as an EPUB.

What’s Coming Soon

To finish the session Richard mentioned a few items which we can expect to appear in the not too distant future:

  • Improved style sheets with embedded font options
  • Expandable content in <details>
  • Support for Math Type expressions

Related Resources

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The Art and Science of Describing Images Part Two (W)

Art and Science of Describing Images Part Two opening slide

Art and Science of Describing Images Part Two opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars December 2nd saw a session focused on image description: part two in the series entitled, The Art and Science of Describing Images. This webinar focused on more complex images than Part One, with speakers Huw Alexander and Valerie Morrison digging deeper into how we approach alt text and long description.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Valerie Morrison—Center for Inclusive Design & Innovation, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Huw Alexander—textBOX Digital

Session Overview

Huw Alexander opened this session giving us a brief resume of what the webinar will cover. The world has become driven by content especially in the digital space and, now more than ever, that content needs to be as accessible as possible. Over the last 10 years we have seen educational materials shift to a much more visual form of conveying information and society has followed suit. We need to be able to deliver this information so that it is accessible to everyone.

Valerie Morrison and Huw then took us through a series of complex image types, giving us an overview of how they tackle describing them and sharing with us their top tips for success. Valerie admitted that she still finds many types of images daunting, even with her years of experience but if you have the right approach you can break it down and keep it simple for the reader. Below are some of the main points for each image type which can be found in greater detail in the slide deck, together with some excellent examples.

Maps and Choropleths

Maps

  • Always begin with a general overview giving a description of what the map is about
  • If there’s an inset table this might be a good  place to start
  • Only describe items which are contextually important to the map
  • Lists are useful in describing maps
  • Don’t worry about colors (unless it’s a choropleth) or symbols which often don’t carry significance

Choropleths

These type of maps display quantitive values for distinct spatial regions using color. Consequently, they require a slightly different approach:

  • Reference the title, the structure, the text key which may point to colors to measure the data, the scale and the trend analysis
  • A political choropleth may also need dates, emphasis and context, places of interest, edge boundaries and a  scale ratio

Timelines

  • Create one general overview sentence
  • Describe the range of the timeline
  • List some of the details

Bar Charts

  • Begin with the title and what the x and y axis denote
  • Describe how the chart has been arranged and why. Sometimes bar charts are arranged to create a visual impact and this might require highlighting
  • Describe each bar in regular, predictable ways

Supply and Demand Curves

  • Begin again with the title and an x and y overview, remembering that this is just a graph!
  • Describe the slopes and where they intersect
  • Keep it simple. It’s easy to get lost in the “word salad” with this type of image

Complex Infographics

  • Overview sentence should contain information on the basic parts of the infographic, the timeline and the illustrations it contains
  • Work from the general to the specific, filling in the details as needed
  • Make sure your description references: the title, the structure of the graphic, the information contained within each section, descriptions of the relevant images only, numbered list elements
  • Do not describe decorative images

Tables

  • Sometimes the tables are arranged specifically for sighted readers and you should sort the information out into more of a table to help readers process the amount of data.
  • Complex STEM Infographics are very hard to parse and it’s much easier if you can convert them into tables with specific columns. An example of how making images available in multiple modalities can help reach more learners eg. a dyslexic reader would benefit from this specific approach.
  • Consider adding structural alt text to your tables. This gives the reader a head start in understanding how the table is organized and allows them to create a mental map before they process the information that it contains.

Before taking questions, Huw ended the session by reminding us:

You are trying to recreate the image and it’s impact for the reader. To do this you need to unravel the complexity it may involve and create a level playing field for all users.

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WordToEPUB Extended Tutorial (W)

WordToEPUB Extended Tutorial opening slide

WordToEPUB Extended Tutorial opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 29th saw a detailed session focused on our new groundbreaking tool, WordToEPUB, following on from the WordToEPUB introductory webinar held earlier in the series.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Dara Ryder, AHEAD Ireland, guest host
  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium
  • Joseph Polizzotto, U.C. Berkeley
  • Nancy Zhang, Provincial Resource Center for the Visually Impaired, British Columbia

Session Overview

Richard Orme introduced the themes of webinar, opening with an overview of the basics for anyone new to the WordToEPUB tool. WordToEPUB is free to use and can create EPUBs from accessible Word documents for any platform and reading app.

A point and shoot demo of an academic paper showed us just how straightforward the method of creating accessible EPUB can be using this tool which is available in multiple languages. The originating word document does have to be accessible in the first place. By clicking on the WordToEPUB button in the ribbon, a dialogue starts within which you can modify the file name and its location. You can also convert by right clicking on your document or you can run the tool from the desktop….easy and straightforward to create an accessible EPUB document.

There are many advanced features available in WordToEPUB and the rest of this webinar looked at these in some detail:

  • Accessibility checker and Headings report
  • Metadata and Word properties
  • Cover images
  • Languages​ (with a demo using the Thorium reader)
  • Table of Contents
  • Splitting level
  • Stylesheets
  • Pagination

Our presenters spoke about these from their unique perspectives giving us examples of use cases and practical insights into how WordToEPUB has been a game changer already. With default conversion options available within the preferences menu, there is much opportunity for this tool to create bespoke documents that work for your particular environment. The Q & A session was lively and worth catching up on! Feedback opportunities and release updates are available.

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The Art and Science of Describing Images (W)

Art and Science of Describing Images - title slide

Art and Science of Describing Images - title slideIn our series of free webinars July 22nd saw a session focused on the skill of writing image descriptions giving us an in-depth glimpse of how to approach various types of images.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Valerie Morrison, Center for Inclusive Design at The Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Huw Alexander, textBOX Digital

Session Overview

Valerie Morrison opened this session with reference to the 1st image description webinar that formed part of this series, held last month, which concentrated on best practice for publishers and explained that today’s session would look closer at editing tips for Alt Text and how to describe some of the more popular types of image.

The Art of Editing

Valerie had previously presented on her basic approach to image description and was useful to be able to go over these again in reference to today’s more detailed dive into the topic. Editing alt text is vital and being able to call on multiple people to perform a review is a good idea. Valerie gave our listeners 4 useful tips to help them craft effective descriptions:

Edit to Provide Clarity

Make sure you use specific language and simple word choices in order to be clear. Write out any acronyms and symbols and use proper grammar and punctuation

Edit to Organize Information

Work from the general to the specific and group like items together for ease of cognitive load. Organize information within your image description in predictable ways, listing similarities first.

Edit to Remain Neutral

Try not to instruct or go beyond what is contained within the image. You can describe actions or expressions but don’t attempt to interpret thoughts and feelings unless the context requires this.

Edit to Reduce Redundancy

Edit descriptions which are too wordy and cut unnecessary phrases. Avoid repeating a caption, if one is present, and try not to regurgitate the surrounding text.

Before moving on to some specific examples Valerie reminded us to consider the cognitive load of your reader. The average person can remember 7 items at a time so less is more where your image descriptions are concerned. Introducing fewer words helps the listener to process information more efficiently and by simplifying and reducing alt text length you care reducing auditory fatigue.

Describing the Most Popular Types of Image

Huw Alexander talked to us about a method that he and his team have devised to provide an organized approach to image description: the focus/LOCUS method which very much complements the approach that Valerie suggested, advocating working from the general to the specific along a pathway of scene-setting and story-telling.

Huw chose 7 image types for this particular webinar with the reassurance that other types will be looked at in future sessions in this series:

  • Bar charts
  • Pie charts
  • Line charts
  • Venn diagrams
  • Flow charts
  • Scatter plots
  • Photographs

showing us the major areas of focus for each and then providing an in-depth example of how it should be done. This level of information is invaluable to those of us who are writing image descriptions on a daily basis and we look forward to the next session (October 7th) which will look at info-graphics and timelines and how to describe these, as well as complex content, test and examination materials and, not forgetting, tables!

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Scaling Inclusion in the Transition to Remote Learning (W)

Scaling Inclusion webinar opening slide

Scaling Inclusion webinar opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 15th saw a session exploring how the rapid adoption of remote learning can benefit accessible resource creation, universal learning and inclusive design, finding a positive from the challenges many have faced in 2020.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Nicolaas Matthijs, Blackboard
  • Christopher Phillips, Utah State University
  • John Scott, Blackboard

Session Overview

Nicolaas Matthijs opened this session explaining that this webinar would focus on 3 main topics or lenses through which to explore approached to accessibility within the higher education arena.

Exploring Learning Theories and Tools to Support Diverse Learner Success

One File Doesn’t Fit All

The need for flexible materials has never been more important in order to:

  • Work with all types of assistive technology
  • To support low income students and mobile users who may only have access to low bandwidth
  • To support learning from home where schedules are busy and access requirements different

The Blackboard Accessibility tool makes digital course material more accessible by integrating with the LMS and reporting back to educators on the success of their content preparation for students with these requirements.

John Scott then reminded us of the importance of alternative formats which empower students with choice and give them multiple modes of representation to enhance cognitive processes. Ultimately, improved usability impacts the time spent on task and information retention.

Christopher Philiips discussed the impact of alternative formats at USU demonstrating how the LMS provides value for all learners when every file is integrated for every course and students have access in whichever environment works for them

How to Scale Professional Development to Impact Inclusive Course Design

Training educators is a crucial element of this journey many of whom have a limited awareness about digital accessibility, not helped by busy schedules and multiple responsibilities. The blackboard tool gives instructor feedback at all stages in the LMS, even when the user amends course content. A course accessibility report summarizes accessibility at course level and encourages instructors to build accessibility into their course material from the very start. These types of tools, supporting faculty give an insightful overview of issues, helping teachers find easy issues to get started on their inclusive design goals.

The Role of Data and Analytics

There is a mountain of content with lots of accessibility issues to be resolved! Content is constantly changing and currently there are insufficient remediation workflows in place to cope with this. The realization that accessibility issues affects all students shows that we need to be ready for fall classes when online learning will continue to be an important of our “new normal”.

Having the necessary data ready to support on-boarding new students and instructors with course content which is being prepared for this environment is going to be a vital part of the process.

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The Accessible EPUB Ecosystem in Action: Following the Journey from Publisher to Student (W)

Accessible EPUB Ecosystem opening slide

Accessible EPUB Ecosystem opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 8th saw a session about the journey accessible EPUB publications take to ultimately be delivered to students in their education establishments and our speakers came from organizations involved throughout this journey.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Michael Johnson, Benetech
  • Rachel Comerford, Macmillan Learning
  • Trisha Prevett, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Brendan Desetti, D2L

Session Overview

This webinar looked at aspects of the educational materials ecosystem for accessibility and Michael Johnson opened by summarizing what would be covered:

  • What is the Eco-System?
  • The Publishing Workflow
  • Accessible Titles in Retail
  • What is Happening on Campus
  • A View Inside a Learning Management System

Michael Johnson talked to us about what is happening now. Publishers are already creating accessible EPUBs, they are preparing files for 3rd party certification and accessible ebooks are are available for sale. There is reader software to support accessible EPUB files and campuses are buying accessible content and changing their procurement policies for their systems.

All elements in the workflow from the publisher to the point of retail, from being available for purchase to appearing within the LMS / library system, are part of the accessible eco-system. Our eco-system should be accessible from start to finish to benefit all students.

The business case is clear and Rachel Comerford reminded us that:

You or someone close to you has benefitted from accessibility work at least once in the last year / /month / week whether or not you consider yourself disabled.

The ingredients for an accessible environment must include:

  • The Data
  • The People
  • The Content
  • The Platform
  • The End Product

Rachel took us through each of these areas in relation to publishing in general and, more specifically, how Macmillan Learning have approached these.

Trisha Prevett gave us an insight into how this feeds into what is happening on campus, where they currently have 180,000 online students! Accessibility is more important than ever and impacts the following areas:

  • Procurement workflows
  • Electronic Information Technology
  • Assessment of Products
  • Relationships with contracted vendors
  • Cost of resources
  • Training of faculty and staff

Brendan Desetti spoke to us about Learning Management Systems and how accessibility affects the three areas:

  • Content: in supporting instructors with accessible course content
  • Process: in facilitating practice of universal design for learning
  • Platform: enabling accessibility and an equitable user experience

Brendan also showed us how D2L are ensuring that all layers of their LMS are attending to these.

Michael Johnson summarized :

  • This is indeed all happening now
  • A Born Accessible EPUB is a better EPUB
  • This is all real work and very do-able
  • Campuses must insist that their vendors are compliant
  • Publishers and platform folk should make sure they are compliant

Accessibility is about meeting the specifications but also about the user experience, the audience response, the assistance and support that comes with a product, and the change that the product undergoes.

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