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Summary: Instructional Technologies and Accessibility e-Forum

Summary: Instructional Technologies and Accessibility e-Forum

This e-Forum was held on November 8-9. It was co-hosted by Melissa Johnson from the Business Library, part of SMU Libraries and Breanne Kirsch from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa.

We had a great couple of days discussing the ins an outs of instructional technologies and accessibility. A lot of great resources were shared and Breanne and I hope everyone was able to walk away with extra accessibility knowledge and ideas.

Our learning objectives for this e-forum were:

  • To explore the impact of accessibility on instructional technologies;
  • To discover accessibility resources; and
  • To consider how instructional technologies and accessibility relate.

We asked attendees a total of six questions during the e-forum.

Why do you think it’s important to ensure that our instructional technology is accessible?

First we discussed why we think it’s important to ensure that our instructional technology is accessible. Answers ranged from the importance of equitable access to universal design for learning (UDL) and moving from the medical model of disabilities to the social model of considering way to remove learning barriers proactively, like with the curb cut effect.

If you create videos for the library for marketing, promotion, or instructional purposes, do you add captions? If so, how do you add captions to your videos?

Next we discussed how we create captions and transcripts for our videos. Recommendations included editing auto-captions in YouTube, using to create transcripts, or using Adobe Premier Pro or Audacity. Other tools mentioned include Adobe Audition and Hindenburg. A couple recommendations included developing a good process and method as a foundation to creating good transcripts and captions and having a mindset of thinking about people that will review your content later.

Do you have experience creating alternative text for images? Do you have recommendations for creating alternative text?

Then, we discussed creating alternative text for images. The WebAIM alt-text page and W3 decision tree were recommended resources. Some recommendations from Craig Hayward include: 

“Be thoughtful of what’s there and involve people in the experience of the image displayed. Make it something worthwhile to look at or read as text. Also remember that alt-text is a place holder for images when they don’t appear. Take care to also add alt-text to your email signature file for any images, logos or symbols you use.”

What are some resources that you use to check for accessibility?

This question resulted in a variety of answers as we talked about resources that we use to check accessibility. Plug-ins for major browsers, such as WAVE, Axe Accessibility, TotA11Y, and the WCAG Color Contract Checker were popular. Other resources mentioned were the A11Y Color Blindness Empathy plug-in, Webbie browser, and ANDI. Screen reader tools such as Screen Reader Wand tool, Apple VoiceOver and Windows Narrator, NVDA screen reader were shared. A reminder about using our keyboard, such as the tab key for layout and navigation and other keyboard shortcuts and hot keys can be helpful, and to take advantage of built-in accessibility tools in Word, PowerPoint, Google Slides/Sheets/Docs, Springshare products and Adobe Acrobat. Links to an accessibility audit conducted by UNC Chapel Hill Libraries, the AccessATE project, and Deque University provided resources like tips and case studies. Last a valuable reminder to involve people in your testing as they are the best resource.

Share some key takeaways or lessons learned from implementing instructional technology with accessibility in mind.

Testing, offering content in at least two formats such as text and audio or text and video, ensuring that PDFs and images are accessible, that videos use captioning, and checking that media player controls work with assistive technology were all shared as major takeaways. Frustrations when outside companies fail to make their own content accessible and the resulting legality issues were also discussed. Plus a recommendation to start PDFs in Word and use alt-text, headings before converting it to a PDF as it will help resolve many accessible issues.

What other accessibility questions do you have?

Our last question didn’t include any responses but participants may simply need more time to consider.

We again want to thank everyone who participated, followed along, or will review the responses and hope that you all found it as helpful and enlightening as we did.

– Melissa Johnson and Breanne Kirsch, e-Forum moderators