About a month ago, I wrote a blog about accessibility. The focus being on the idea that accessibility is Not Just Tech. When talking about accessibility, I am not just describing the ability to retrieve information or resources, but the ability to use and understand those resources and materials. Accessibility is about more than just technical solutions to inaccessible information. It’s about ensuring that every student has an equal opportunity to be successful.
This week, as classes began yet again, I was struck by the sheer number of people on campus. Going from what feels like an empty campus during the summer, to the now vibrant and fully alive campus of fall, it is astounding how many people suddenly flood WSU. Everywhere is now packed with students, faculty, and staff; and WSU couldn’t be filled with more energy and excitement.
But seeing these numbers also made me think. As I noted in my previous blog, accessibility is about people. As I watched students move about campus, and checked in on my own course, I was reminded that every person is unique and different. And while it can be easy to identify some differences, I am reminded that not every difference is visible. Some differences are “invisible,” hidden to the naked eye, but still very much present and impactful. Ensuring accessibility, providing accommodations, and alternative methods to access information helps to be sure that all individuals are given their best chance to be successful. Consider the following accessibility solutions and checks when creating materials for courses this semester.
Using color contrast analyzers can help identify situations where colors may be difficult to see which can lead to missing information that is important.
Using accessibility checkers for Adobe Pro and Microsoft ensures that screen readers and assistive technology can be used as effectively and productively as possible.
Providing accurate captions are essential. While some videos on websites like YouTube may contain captions, they are notoriously inaccurate, changing words like desk to “death” and drastically changing the information that is being conveyed. For an individual with a hearing impairment, this can mean not having the information necessary to successfully complete a course. Consider the available options if you encounter a video with inaccurate captions.
Consider using a free screen reader or assistive technology to see what others who rely on this technology experience when using it on course documents and materials.
If you are interested in reading more about accessibility and some solutions to accessibility issues that you may have identified in your course, check out the IDT Accessibility blogs and pages below.
Blogs: Accessibility: Captioning Options with Amara; Lessons Learned from Poor Vision: An Accessibility Tale; Accessibility: Not Just Tech; Accessibility: The Importance of PDFs; Accessibility Check: Color Contrast; PDF Accessibility Check; Accessibility Check; Selecting a Textbooks and Resources for Accessibility.