Change to Texthelp Software Licensing

UA’s enterprise license agreement for the Texthelp suite of tools will not be renewed in FY21.

After conversations with campus partners, we determined that we did not have a user basis to justify an enterprise-level agreement for the product. The good news is that Texthelp offers free premium subscriptions of Read&Write and EquatIO for educators! These tools can be accessed on the Texthelp website. Additionally, one alternative to the Texthelp suite of tools are the Learning Tools offered by Microsoft 365.

If you, or users in your area, have any need beyond the scope of the free tools, please contact us. We will be happy to make arrangements to provide the tools that you need to succeed.

August and September 2020 Technology Accessibility Webinars

The Technology Accessibility team invites you to enhance your technology accessibility skills by participating in these webinars. We are proud to partner with HR Learning and Development to offer webinar registration via UA LMS, the online learning system for faculty and staff. Register for webinars via the links here, or view the entire Accessibility instructor-led training catalog in UA LMS: UA LMS Instructor-Led Training: Accessibility Students unable to register via UA LMS are also welcome to attend and may register by emailing accessibility@ua.edu.

We are also happy to offer private training sessions on these and other accessibility-related topics to members of the University community. Please contact us if we can help with your technology accessibility needs.

Texthelp Higher Education Summer Camp

The Texthelp tools freely available to all UA students, faculty and staff are: Read&Write, a literacy support toolbar with supports for reading, writing, research, and studying; EquatIO, an application you can use to type, handwrite, or speak to create equations, formulas, and other math and chemistry expressions; and Snapverter, an easy to use add-on for Read&Write for Google Chrome and iOS app that transforms papers and files into readable PDF documents.

From Texthelp:

Join us for a summer full of learning, new ideas, and useful strategies! During our seven week series, we’ll focus on the key features within Read&Write and EquatIO, while leaving you with practical strategies when working with students. Be sure to invite campus partners, administrators, instructional designers, or peers who might need to brush up on their knowledge, explore applicability on campus, or to help support the transition to online learning. Both beginners new to the products and experienced users wanting review will take away tidbits to add to their toolboxes.

Summer 2020 Technology Accessibility Webinars

The Technology Accessibility team invites you to enhance your technology accessibility skills by participating in these webinars. We are proud to partner with HR Learning and Development to offer webinar registration via UA LMS, the online learning system for faculty and staff. Register for webinars via the links here, or view the entire Accessibility instructor-led training catalog in UA LMS: UA LMS Instructor-Led Training: Accessibility Students unable to register via UA LMS are also welcome to attend and may register by emailing accessibility@ua.edu.

We are also happy to offer private training sessions on these and other accessibility-related topics to members of the University community. Please contact us if we can help with your technology accessibility needs.

Blackboard Ally “Fix your Content Day”

Are you up for the challenge? Fix Your Content Day. Thursday, May 21

May 21st marks the annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day and as part of our campus-wide commitment to inclusive education, we are participating in the first ever Blackboard Ally “Fix your Content Day.” For 24 hours, we’ll be on a mission to fix as many accessibility issues with course files as we can. At the end of the day, the campus with the most files fixed will be recognized and awarded a prize.

How can you help? Blackboard instructors, start selecting those red and orange indicators in your Blackboard courses and fix as many files as you can. Focus on images that need a description and Word documents to start. Aim for 100%, but improvement is what counts!

For more information on how to fix files through Ally, check out these resources:

UA Ally News: Blackboard Ally now enabled in all courses

Video: Overview for Instructors of Ally for Learning Management Systems

Blackboard Ally Help Page: Improve File Accessibility 

As always, thanks for your efforts in making UA a more inclusive and accessible campus. Please contact us if we can help with your technology accessibility needs.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2020

Thursday, May 21 is the ninth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)! GAAD’s purpose is “to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.” A number of organizations are offering free, online events to celebrate GAAD. We’re particularly looking forward to these; others can be found on the GAAD website: GAAD Events & Activities

In addition to these events, we encourage you to participate by experiencing first-hand the impact of digital accessibility (or lack thereof). Suggested activities:

Gain Perspective

Digital accessibility is essential for people with disabilities and useful for all. Learn about the impact of accessibility and the benefits for everyone in a variety of situations by watching this series of short videos: Web Accessibility Perspectives: Explore the Impact and Benefits for Everyone

Go Mouseless For An Hour

Many people use only the keyboard to navigate websites — either through preference or circumstance. Unplug your mouse and only use your keyboard alone (tab/shift tab, arrow keys, enter, and spacebar) to navigate and interact with your favorite websites and applications. If you use a touchpad, trackpad or similar input method, disable it, and use the keyboard instead.

Developers and designers, we encourage you to visit a site you were involved in creating and take it for a test-drive.

  • Is there a visible focus indicator (i.e., do you know where you are) at all times as you navigate each screen using the tab and shift tab keys?
  • Are you able to interact with every element that receives focus using the keyboard alone?
  • If there is any element that provides functionality if you hover over it with your mouse, such as revealing a tooltip or a set of actions, can you display this strictly using the keyboard alone?

Surf The Web With A Screen Reader

Screen reader software processes content on the desktop and in web browsers and converts it to others forms such as text-to-speech and Braille.  Screen readers typically provide other functions such as shortcut keys, different modes for processing content and interacting with it, and the ability to highlight the text that is being read aloud. Unplug your mouse, launch a screen reader, and spend an hour using some of your favorite sites using the keyboard alone.

There are a number of free/open source screen readers available for Windows users; one of the more popular ones is NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA). Mac users, you have a built-in screen reader called VoiceOver on your systems.

Learn About And Use Other OS/Mobile Accessibility Features

The Windows 10 Operating System has a number of built-in accessibility features, as do the Apple operating systemsAndroid, and BlackBerry devices. Take an hour to explore them.

Try Other Adaptive Software Tools

The Adaptech Research Network has a library of free or inexpensive software that is useful to people with disabilities. We’re partial to ZoomText and the Texthelp tools, both accessible via the OIT Software catalog.

As always, thanks for your efforts in making UA a more inclusive and accessible campus. Please contact us if we can help with your technology accessibility needs.

Blackboard Ally now enabled in all courses

In order to help instructors and students transition to online learning, Blackboard Ally for LMS has been enabled in all Blackboard courses. Ally helps make digital course content more accessible by automatically providing alternative formats (such as semantic HTML, audio, ePub, and electronic Braille) and providing instructor feedback and guidance on fixing accessibility issues in a course.

Texthelp tools for remote learning and working

Texthelp offers a collection of Mac and PC desktop software, Google Chrome apps and extensions, and iOS and Android apps that support reading, writing, language learning and STEM subjects. Texthelp tools freely available to all UA students, faculty and staff include: Read&Write, a literacy support toolbar with supports for reading, writing, research, and studying; EquatIO, an application you can use to type, handwrite, or speak to create equations, formulas, and other math and chemistry expressions; and Snapverter, an easy to use add-on for Read&Write for Google Chrome and iOS app that transforms papers and files into readable PDF documents.

Here are some tips on how to use Texthelp tools to enhance remote learning and working, from the Texthelp blog:

Spring 2020 Technology Accessibility Workshops

The Technology Accessibility team invites you to enhance your technology accessibility skills by participating in these workshops and webinars. We are proud to partner with HR Learning and Development to offer workshop/webinar registration via UA LMS, the online learning system for faculty and staff. Register for workshops/webinars via the links here, or view the entire Accessibility instructor-led training catalog in UA LMS: UA LMS Instructor-Led Training: Accessibility Students unable to register via UA LMS are also welcome to attend and may register by emailing accessibility@ua.edu.

We are also happy to offer private training sessions on these and other accessibility-related topics to members of the University community. Please contact us if we can help with your technology accessibility needs.

Introducing Blackboard Ally

The Center for Instructional Technology is happy to share that we are piloting Blackboard Ally for LMS during the Spring 2020 semester. Ally helps make digital course content more accessible by automatically providing alternative formats (such as semantic HTML, audio, ePub, and electronic Braille) and providing instructor feedback and guidance on fixing accessibility issues in a course.

Video: Blackboard Ally for courses

Stay tuned for more information from the technology accessibility team about Ally and pilot participation.