Digital tools are providing more insight into the accessibility of learning materials, and even automating some steps in making more accessible alternatives available. "We have been fighting this uphill battle of content accessibility for years, and we have been fighting it without knowing what is actually out there," said Jeremy Olguin, accessible technology manager at California State University Chico, also called Chico State (https://www.csuchico.edu/).
Have you ever watched a film with subtitles? Closed captions help many viewers to follow a storyline and understand dialogue. Subtitles are used for watching a film in a foreign language, for the hard of hearing, to watch a movie quietly so as not to disturb others and in public spaces where TV is transmitted without sound.
Harvard Business School’s Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging (PTFIB) has almost completed its goal of building an inclusive campus. But, before Drew Faust, President of the prestigious school, steps down at the end of this academic year, the PTFIB is asking the university community for further suggestions and recommendations.
Brock University located in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada took advantage of the recent summer break to improve accessibility by reconstructing walkways to make pedestrian routes barrier-free. The new sidewalks now have embedded textured plates which serve as an alert for people with visual impairments approaching a street crossing. This is one example of the many ways Canadian universities are creating more accessible campuses. B
Universal Design Instruction (UDI) is a scientifically based concept that emphasizes inclusive practices to maximize student success, including those with ranges in ability, disability, age, learning style, language, race and ethnicity. For post-secondary institutions, this not only means ensuring campuses meet certain criteria in accessibility, but also rearranging classroom seating so clear sightlines are available to all students. Additionally, institutions should provide materials in electronic formats as well as captioning and transcribing for video presentations.
Education is becoming more digital, with options for learning spanning more than just the classroom. Online courses have made perusing an education more attainable for many sectors of society, including those with disabilities. But, designing an online course means the instructor must ensure that as many students as possible can benefit from it.
‘The devil is in the details,’ this should be the motto of every conference planner. And, the key to a successful meeting is to plan for the full participation and inclusion of every attendee. For conference participants with disabilities, inclusion means making every aspect of the event barrier-free so that they feel welcomed and valued.
The Center on Technology and Disability at American Institutes for Research, in partnership with the Consortium for School Networking, has created a toolkit for education leaders on the accessibility of digital technology used in schools in the United States. Digital Accessibility Toolkit: What Education Leaders Need to Know is designed to improve student learning by ensuring that technology is accessible to all students.
The University of Guelph’s 2016 Accessibility Conference will be held May 30 and 31, 2016, in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. The theme of the event is “In Letter and Spirit: Realizing the Vision of the AODA” (the AODA being the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act). The conference welcomes novices and experts in the area of accessibility.