Fix Your Content Day Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Fix Your Content Day Join CIT for a Fixathon web conference via Zoom Thursday May 20 2:00-4:00 p.m. Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness DayGreetings, UA Allies!

Thursday, May 20th marks the annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day. GAAD’s purpose is “to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.” As part of our campus-wide commitment to inclusive education, and in celebration of GAAD, we are participating in the 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? Start clicking those Low (red) and Medium (orange) accessibility score indicators in your courses and fix as many files as you can. Focus on images that need a description and Word documents to start. Aim for a 100% accessibility score, but improvement is what counts!

You are also invited to join us for a Fixathon on Thursday, May 20, 2:00-4:00 p.m.. During this come-and-go web conference, we’ll work on accessibility issues with course files as a group and have fun making our campus more inclusive for everyone. While the Fixathon is a UA community event, keep an eye on our public Facebook page, where we’ll be going live throughout the day as we fix files. Join the Fixathon

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

As always, thanks for your efforts in making UA a more inclusive and accessible campus community! Please contact us if we can help with Ally, course content fixes, or other technology accessibility needs.

Spring 2021 Accessibility Initiative Update

The University of Alabama Technology Accessibility team, housed in the Office of Information Technology (OIT), continues to lead the initiative to provide our technology users, including those with disabilities, a functional and accessible technology experience and to help our institution’s faculty, staff, and students develop digital resources that are accessible to all. Since March 2020, we have been exerting much of our efforts to help make sure newly virtual and remote resources and events are as accessible as possible.

We have seen substantial growth in the use of captioning grants for public-facing and campus wide media. Captioning grants for live public-facing or campus wide virtual events are also available now.

Additional efforts since January 2020 include:

  • Launching Blackboard Ally for Learn, which provides students with accessible versions of course content, offers instructors guidance on course content accessibility and remediation, and gives institutional insight into accessibility progress for course content.
  • Resolving more than 1500 tickets in the HelpSpot customer service/support ticket system.
  • Offering workshops and webinars, including offerings on web accessibility; best practices for creating accessible documents, presentations, spreadsheets, emails, social media, and other digital content; Universal Design for Learning; and other accessibility-related topics.
  • Captioning and/or transcribing over 12,000 minutes of media through UA captioning grants. Captioning grants may be used to caption and/or transcribe UA-owned video and audio that will be shared on public or campus-wide websites.
  • Running 2000+ Accessibility Management Platform reports. Accessibility Management Platform (AMP) is a comprehensive accessibility and reporting tool freely available to members of the UA community.
  • Continued education, outreach, and enforcement around the The University of Alabama Web Resources Accessibility Policy (PDF), which adopts WCAG 2.0 AA to address the accessibility of public-facing web resources, campus-wide web resources, and web resources needed to conduct core University administrative and academic function, including equally effective alternate access and non-compliance plans.

We continue to:

  • Maintain a campus technology and web site inventory, including technology accessibility status.
  • Conduct site audits, sharing evaluation reports with area liaisons who can handle remediation with our assistance.
  • Provide technology accessibility policy guidance to stakeholders who select, create, or share digital content.
  • Facilitate accurate captioning and or transcription of all public-facing and campus wide media, including the administration of captioning grants and training.
  • Work with campus stakeholders and accessibility liaisons to ensure the accessibility of instructional content housed in Blackboard Learn or other enterprise instructional technology tools.
  • Manage licensing and support of enterprise assistive technology tools (currently ZoomText).
  • Consult with and assist campus liaisons and other stakeholders with all technology accessibility concerns and questions.

Plans for this coming year include the continued implementation of The University of Alabama Web Resources Accessibility Policy, including compliance reviews, as well as partnering with the University’s IT Enterprise Development and Application Support team to develop a web inventory portal for accessibility liaisons.

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: