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.

Texthelp tool access for personal Google accounts

UA users of Texthelp tools are able to access Read&Write, EquatIO, and Snapverter by signing in with a Crimson Mail account (“Sign in with Google”) or a @ua.edu Office 365 account (“Sign in with Microsoft”). Some users previously granted authorization for an email address connected to a different Google or Microsoft account may have lost this access in a recent update. If you are unable to log into the Texthelp tools with a non-UA email address for which you had previously received authorization, please contact us.

Accessing Higher Ground Accessible Media, Web & Technology Conference Presented by AHEAD in collaboration with ATHEN

Accessing Higher Ground Virtual Conference 2019—you’re invited!

The Center for Instructional Technology is happy to host the Accessing Higher Ground Virtual Conference, and you’re invited! Sessions from all five days of the conference will be streamed live in A232 and A342 Gordon Palmer Hall, Monday, November 18–Friday, November 22. Drop by for a session or stay for the entire event, and feel free to bring your lunch (and your friends!). Registration is not required.

Accessing Higher Ground focuses on the implementation and benefits of:

  • Accessible media, Universal Design and Assistive Technology in the university, business and public setting;
  • Legal and policy issues, including ADA and 508 compliance;
  • The creation of accessible media and information resources, including Web pages and library resources.

There is a strong focus on campus accommodation, universal design, and curriculum accessibility as well as best practices for web design, reaching untapped audiences through accessible design, and compliance with existing and anticipated Section 508 and ADA stipulations.

A complete agenda is available on the conference website. As the schedule is subject to change, please check for updates before making the trip to Gordon Palmer. Times on the conference site are in Mountain Time; Central Time is one hour ahead.

Upcoming accessibility-related learning opportunities

We’re compiling our team’s favorite sources for accessibility news and professional development opportunities to add to the collection of Accessibility Resources on our website. Let us know if there are organizations, listservs, social media accounts, etc. you find particularly useful, and we’ll add them to the list.

Here are some upcoming accessibility-related learning opportunities:

Fall 2019 Technology Accessibility Workshops

The Technology Accessibility team invites you to enhance your technology accessibility skills by participating in these workshops and webinars. Starting this semester, we are proud to partner with HR Learning and Development to offer workshop/webinar registration via UA LMS, the new 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

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.

Updated Texthelp tools

Updated versions of two Texthelp tools, Read&Write and EquatIO, are now available on the OIT website, along with updated installation instructions: Texthelp in the OIT software catalog

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.

Video: Introduction to using Read&Write at University

Video: Introducing EquatIO® – Make Math Digital. Make Math Together

Video: Introduction to Snapverter – An Add-On for Read&Write

AHEAD Equity & Excellence: Access in Higher Education

AHEAD 2019 Virtual Conference—you’re invited!

The Office of Disability Services and the Center for Instructional Technology’s Technology Accessibility team are happy to host the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) 2019 Virtual Conference, and you’re invited! The conference’s Opening Plenary address and a dozen concurrent sessions and featured presentations will be streamed live in A232 and A342 Gordon Palmer Hall, Thursday, July 11–Friday, July 12. Drop by for a session or stay for the entire event, and feel free to bring your lunch (and your friends!). Registration is not required.

AHEAD is the leading professional membership association for individuals committed to equity for persons with disabilities in higher education. AHEAD’s annual international conference is the organization’s hallmark event and draws attendees from around the world. Participants and presenters come from diverse fields, including education, technology, law, scholarship, and government, but share a common interest in fostering equitable higher education experiences for individuals with disabilities.

Mid- 2019 Accessibility Initiative Update

The Faculty Resource Center’s 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 with our web presence and our instructional and emerging technologies. A major accomplishment this year was the approval of 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.

Additional efforts since our last update include:

  • Resolving 825 tickets in the HelpSpot customer service/support ticket system.
  • Offering 56 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 7000 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.
  • Hosting Texthelp experts who offered intensive training on literacy support tools freely available to all UA students, faculty and staff: Read&Write, a literacy support solution with tools 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.
  • Partnering with the College of Continuing Studies to plan and present a cross-campus Invisible Disabilities workshop.
  • Hosting the Accessing Higher Ground Virtual Conference.

Additionally, as of May 2019, both our Technology Accessibility Specialists have now earned IAAP Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) certification. The CPACC credential represents broad, cross-disciplinary conceptual knowledge about 1) disabilities, 2) accessibility and universal design, and 3) accessibility-related standards, laws, and management strategies.

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 will 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 Texthelp and 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 initial compliance reviews, as well as partnering with the University’s Department of Human Resources to add accessibility-related content to the new UA LMS comprehensive professional development library.