I definitely see more of a movement of making sure that everything you put online is accessible instead of the approach of waiting for the Disability Resource Center to inform you that you have a student that has accessibility needs.
At our school we try to include accessibility training into everything we do. Faculty who teach online need to go through our 6 week eCertification course which is run synchronously and we dedicate one full week to accessibility training that we put in at the beginning of the training before building anything in their sandboxes. In this week we provide them with a sample word document that has multiple errors on it and then they have to submit an accessible document (we have rubric they can reference) for one of the assignments. Then we provide the steps on how to make the word document into an accessible pdf. Then on another assignment they have to take this accessible word document and copy it into a content page and make sure the content page is setup correctly (again another rubric is provided).
This week always ends up being the most challenging and rewarding week for the faculty going through the course. Most of the faculty comment in our end of course survey that no one has ever shown them how to make documents accessible let alone create accessible content pages. So our biggest challenge is trying to sit down with all the faculty through one-on-one appointments, trainings or through online resources (regardless of how much they use Canvas) on creating accessible content.
We are in the very beginning stages of implementing Quality Matters at our school and I would be interested to hear from anyone else how this has helped with helping faculty create accessible content and courses and any lessons learned?
I think that faculty are very busy, and while having excellent content is very important, it's not as important to them that they spend even more time making content accessible. It's much easier to copy and paste from Word and save, than it is to double check formatting. I have a suggestion that's in the voting queue that asks for an "automatic" accessibility checker . If a message were to pop up when you click the save button, that lets you know there are accessibility issues, it would act as a reminder to take that extra step (be sure to vote on it). Another issue is outside content that's not formatted appropriately. Publishers are getting better (some of them) but there is still a ways to go.
Having Canvas accessible is awesome, and a huge step in the right direction, but the content that instructors add needs the same level of care (and time). It's not an entirely easy process, but it is getting easier. There is more awareness and having this group is amazing. Thank you.
Totally understand how busy faculty can be, especially when developing and delivering quality online courses. We usually find that once a faculty member understands some of the basics of making a course accessible and what to look for, it does not take too much additional time from them. Don’t get me wrong it can take some time, especially when you go back into some older courses that have never applied any accessible practices. An accessibility checker would be nice but it still requires the faculty member to go into the course and apply headers to pages, add alt text, etc…
Susan can probably talk more about the accessibility checker, as UCF is/has working on such a feature?
It's absolutely wonderful to be talking about such an important topic in this community where everyone is helping each other! Love it! Thanks @mworden
"I don't have any blind or deaf students, so why should I...?", "My program would not be appropriate for a disabled person, so why should I...", "Our Access Services department takes care of this and tells me when I should do something, so why should I...?", "We haven't been told to do anything by our State Board, so why should I...", "We don't have a budget for this, so why should I...?" and many more variations on same. Top to bottom with very few exceptions.
And then there is the various counsels and commissions on our State Board. Our eLearning Council is working hard to address this, but our Access Services Council is not (yes, I know its hard to believe), our VP and Presidents' councils - no. Our Instructional Technology Council - no, our legislature - no.
We offer professional development courses at our school for online accessibility and nobody registers. We offer free registration for a state-sponsored accessibility retreat, and nobody from our school is interested.
Many days we are just plan tired of banging our heads against the wall, but we try to persevere.
Today I found WebAIM’s Hierarchy for Motivating Accessibility Change, which is very nice. Always thinking about how to motivate people to care about accessible practice since I also encounter a lot of apathy.
We have more and more students are who are blind in our programs and we need a good way to present math content (and STEM content in general). Anyone else struggle with this?
Thank you for sharing that, Sonya.
Politically correct and nicely collegial theory, but I would love to see a study on which level of the hierarchy is actually the most effective. I am old enough to remember when the campaigns began for physical accessibility - sidewalk ramps, parking spaces, restrooms to accommodate wheelchairs etc. - and it took many lawsuits, and fines to achieve the limited compliance we have today.
We have similar challenges...supporting the efforts for accessibility and highlighting it's importance. Similar to how a special education introductory course was a required course for my credential for a traditional classroom...what's the equivalent for an online/blended/hybrid classroom: accessibility with a mix of compassion. Yes- we'll bang our heads against the wall as we strive to make these efforts a reality, but I will continue to do so because of what it could do for those students. Most of the single A accommodations on the WCAG 2.0 are small and easy steps. I would even say they are easier than understanding/ reading an IEP document. It's about sharing our knowledge and supporting teachers to help them see the benefits for all of their students- not just the ones with learning differences. I love that the eCertificate training dreesd mentioned includes accessibility training. Thank you for sharing your best practices with us.
Our curriculum department is slowly making a move to create more accessible courses. Why do we have to wait for the state or government to mandate these recommendations? We're making this move because it's the right thing to do for our students.