Free virtual accessibility conference – Axe-Con 2024

Deque is hosting Axe-con, a FREE virtual digital accessibility conference,  February 20-22.  The conference is open to developers, designers, business users and accessibility professionals of all experience levels who focus on building, testing, and maintaining a digital experience.  Axe-con offers four tracks that include development, design, organizational success with accessibility, and wildcard. We encourage you to register for the conference and attend if your schedule permits.  These sessions are recorded and available at a later date.  For more information, please visit the axe-con 2024 conference information pagereview the schedule, or register for free on the Deque website.

Save the Date – Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2024!

Please mark your calendars for May 16, 2024 as we prepare to host events observing Global Accessibility Awareness Day at UA. This is an opportunity to celebrate our advancements in accessibility and to continue building our knowledge and skills in this important area! As the event approaches, we will work closely with you to plan sessions and activities based on  your interests and the needs of our campus community.

Thank you for your dedication to make UA more  inclusive and accessible!

Announcing UA’s Accessibility Forum

UA’s Technology Accessibility Team is excited to announce the launch of the Accessibility Forum.  The forum aims to unite the campus community and share accessibility wins, updates, and other accessibility-related information.  You are invited to the first meeting scheduled for March 5th in A232 Gordon Palmer beginning at 8:30 a.m. with snacks and the meeting will begin at 9:00 am.

We are excited to have Kristen Kaylor, Sr. Accessibility Instructional Designer in UA Online Teaching Innovation and Digital Education (OTIDE) as our guest speaker.  She will be presenting A.I. Unleashed: Transforming the Accessibility of Images, Graphics, and Math Through Alt Text Automation.  We will also be sharing important accessibility updates for the campus community. If you have any news that you would like to share, please let us know.  I have included a calendar invite with this email.

We are looking forward to seeing you at our first Accessibility Forum Meeting!

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2023

Please plan to join colleagues from across campus and around the world to celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Thursday, May 18, 2023. This exciting event will include virtual and in-person sessions featuring the following speakers and topics:

Full agenda and registration coming soon! Email accessibility@ua.edu with questions or to receive an update when more information is available.

ATHEN Virtual STEM Accessibility Conference

The Center for Instructional Technology’s Technology Accessibility team is hosting the 2023 Access Technology Higher Education Network (ATHEN) Virtual STEM Accessibility Conference: Acc3ss N0w virtual conference for the UA community!  Acc3ss N0w is a  diverse conference where experts can share their best practices, solutions, techniques, etc. for accessing and creating accessible STEM content in higher education.  Sessions from the conference will be streamed live in Gordon Palmer Room A232 on Thursday, February 9  from 11:00-4:00 p.m. and Friday, February 10 from 11:00-2:00 p.m.  Registration is not required.  We hope that you can join us!

2022 Accessibility Initiative Update

Dear colleagues and allies,  

Greetings from the Technology Accessibility team in The University of Alabama Office of Information Technology! 2022 has been a busy year with a focus on giving campus partners ways to maintain site and process accessibility. We also perform ongoing benchmark reviews of campus websites and continue to offer accessibility awareness and education training opportunities. Some notable projects include: 

  • Working with our colleagues in Enterprise Development and Application Support (EDAS) to maintain and add features to the Web Accessibility dashboard for campus tech accessibility liaisons. This dashboard gives liaisons a comprehensive list of sites under their purview, along with a high-level summary of site accessibility status.  
  • Addressing accessibility needs for business process automation (BPA) used to complete several institutional activities. We are working with EDAS and external vendors to make sure forms, reports, and other resources generated through automation are accessible and usable for all.  
  • Improving website template accessibility for official and individual UA web sites. We work with UA’s Office of Strategic Communications makes our institutional WordPress site templates as accessible as possible. We are also refreshing our Weebly templates and policies for people.ua.edu sites, drawing on internal expertise and external consultants to make the platform a better option for our campus.  
  • Expanding the accessibility grant offerings to include document remediation for complex PDFs and live captioning services for virtual events. We also continue to provide captioning and transcription grants for public-facing or campus wide media.  
  • Hosting and sharing accessibility education opportunities including Accessing Higher Ground, the Legal Digital Accessibility Summit, and others. 

We look forward to working with you in 2023 and appreciate your allyship and advocacy in making our campus and our community more inclusive and accessible.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day and Fix Your Content Day

Challenge Accepted! Hashtag FixYourContent Blackboard Ally

Greetings, UA Allies!

Thursday, May 19th marks the 11th 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 the more than One Billion people with disabilities/impairments.”

As part of our campus-wide commitment to inclusive education, and in celebration of GAAD, we’ll be sharing accessibility resources and offering live, online opportunities to learn about accessibility throughout the day. We will also participate in the Blackboard Ally “Fix your Content Day Challenge”!” For 24-hours, we’ll be on a mission to fix as many accessibility issues in course files as we can. At the end of the day, the campus with the most files improved 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! For more information on how to fix files through Blackboard 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.


Global Accessibility Awareness Day and Fix Your Content Day at The University of Alabama – May 19, 2022

All day – Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, where we’ll share accessibility resources and opportunities to learn about accessibility throughout the day. 

All day –Join the Blackboard Ally “Fix your Content Day Challenge” and fix as many issues in course files as you can.

All day – Participate in some of the hundreds of virtual events the community has created to celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day. 

8:00 – 8:50 CDT: How People with Disabilities Access Digital Content 

Kick off Global Accessibility Awareness Day and gain a fuller appreciation of technology accessibility with this fast-paced overview of some of the technologies and methods people with disabilities use to access websites, documents, audio, video, and other digital content. Join us via Zoom. 

9:00 – 9:50 CDT: Designing for Accessibility 

Learn the importance of designing for accessibility and impactful practices you can apply to create accessible documents, images, audio, video, and web content. Join us via Zoom. 

10:00 – 10:50 CDT: Creating Accessible Course Content 

Accessible course content makes it easier for everyone to read and access your materials and can help improve overall quality and usability. Explore steps you can take to ensure your online course materials are accessible to students of all abilities and get an introduction to Blackboard Ally, a tool that helps make digital course content more accessible by automatically providing alternative formats and providing instructor guidance and feedback on accessibility issues. This session is a great start for those participating in Fix Your Content Day. Join us via Zoom. 

11:00 – 11:50 CDT: Fix Your Content – Keep it Simple

Some accessibility issues are easier to fix than others. This session will demonstrate fixes for simpler issues you might start with when fixing accessibility issues with your course content: adding alt text to images directly through Blackboard Ally, fixing heading issues in Word documents, and replacing scanned PDFs with OCRed PDFs from Ally’s alternative formats. Join us via Zoom. 

2:00 – 4:00 CDT: Blackboard Ally Fix Your Content Day Fixathon 

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. Registration is required. 

4:15 – 4:45 CDT: GAAD/FYCD Reflection and Conclusion 

We’ll end the day by sharing our takeaways and reflecting on how we can make our campus more accessible and inclusive. Join us via Zoom. 

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.