"Why didn't anybody tell me about this?" What every lt should know about accessible documents


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Presentation delivered at ALT 2012 conference in Manchester.

The title of this presentation is a composite of the many responses we receive when we deliver training on accessible documents to teachers as part of the Load2Learn project, an online collection of downloadable curriculum resources in accessible formats. Teachers are chagrined that none of their learning technology support or training staff ever made them aware of these accessibility tips. They also worry that their digitally native students don't know them. Much to many teachers' surprise, more accessible documents can even lead to reduced costs or more efficiently deployed resources.

This presentation will focus on five essential technologies that are easily within reach of anyone. They are 1. structured documents (and the keyboard shortcuts to make them a reality), 2. text modification (including PDFs), 3. narrated audio (and how to make it easy to navigate), 4. text to speech (much more useful than people think), and 5. synchronised text and audio (e-books' potential fulfilled through DAISY and ePub3). Free or inexpensive tools exist to make all of these a reality in all educational contexts. This is particularly important in the school sector. The FE/HE sector may be more familiar with some of these techniques but our experience indicates that even there, they are not in wide use. Availability of these tools will mean that even those students whose struggle with reading may not be severe enough to warrant individual support can benefit from the unexploited potential of computers to make the world of the written word more accessible to them.

The word "accessibility" is enough to raise a feeling of dread in any technologist, bringing to mind images of limiting design possibilities, creating alternative versions and other chores. And, indeed, there are extreme cases where accessibility is hard work. But most of the time inaccessible digital files are simply badly constructed files the shortcomings of which are covered up by inconsistent hacks. Their inaccessibility is caused not by failing to follow some special hard-to-learn "rules", but by neglect of basic good practices. The issue is further compounded by out-dated assumptions about the needs of those who find it hard to access print.

But there is not that much to know. And what there is to know is of immense benefit for everyone's everyday computing not just when supporting somebody with a print disability. Accessible computing is not a chore we have to learn to satisfy equality regulations or feelings of political correctness. Accessible computing is productive and clean computing.

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"Why didn't anybody tell me about this?" What every lt should know about accessible documents

  1. 1. Why didn’t anybodytell me about this?What every learning technologist shouldknow about accessible documents Dominik Lukeš, @techczech
  2. 2. Conversation reminderPlease tweet any questions, comments@techczech
  3. 3. Load2Learn online resource of downloadable curriculum materials for print disabled learners provides access to digital books and images that can be used by learners with their own technology being developed by Dyslexia Action and RNIB, funded by DfE
  4. 4. Problem: Print disability“A print-disabled person is anyone for whoma visual, cognitive or physical disabilityhinders the ability to read print. Thisincludes all visual impairments, dyslexia,and any physical disabilities that preventthe handling of a physical copy of a printpublication.” CLA License, http://www.cla.co.uk/data/pdfs/print_disability/cla_guidelines_for_the_pdl_aug10.pdf
  5. 5. Print Disability: PerceptionIssues Cannot see text Can only see text at a certain size Cannot see certain colours, colour combinations Prefers certain contrast
  6. 6. Print Disability: Issues withProcessing Text Difficulties decoding written word Difficulties finding information in large chunks of text Needs special formatting (e.g. Sans Serif, not-justified, no all caps, no underline, no italics)
  7. 7. Print Disability: PhysicalDifficulties Can only use the keyboard Can only use a pointing device Can only use voice input
  8. 8. Key legal provisions Make an accessible copy of a document for a print disabled person under the CLA PD Licence Accessible document: large print, electronic copy, audio version (MP3), Braille Unless a suitable commercial alternative exists
  9. 9. Conversation reminderPlease tweet any questions, comments@techczech
  10. 10. Solution: Making textaccessible1. Structured documents with easy navigation (Word, PDF)2. Modification of font colour, font type, font size, background colour (PDF, Word)3. Narrated Audio books4. Text-to-speech: PDF, Wordtalk, Balbolka, voices, screen reader5. Audio and text linked (DAISY, WordTalk)
  11. 11. Solution 1: Structureddocuments All sections have titles marked with Heading styles Word documents, PDFs, Web Pages
  12. 12. Solution 2: Text and documentmodification Change font size proportionally Change font colours and background colours
  13. 13. Solution 3: Audio books andother audio
  14. 14. Evidence for Audio Books Boys found audio-reading enjoyable and their self-confidence as readers improved. „a marked reduction in the quantity of errors … when reading independently‟ The boys found audio reading was relatively effortless yet they perceived that they were reading books appropriate to their age and could read „hard words‟ like their peers (Byrom, 1998, p.5)
  15. 15. Audio as spectacles„some children require spectacles to enablethem to read a book, others may require anaudio tape to enable them to read the samebook‟ (Byrom, 1998, p. 6)„Today some of these people with dyslexiaeven regard the computer as theirequivalent to the glasses of the weak-sighted‟. (Tank & Frederikson, 2007, p.947)
  16. 16. Audio books at home parents reported that audio-books appeared to have „a positive influence in reducing emotional– behavioural problems‟ and that the use of audio-books within the home environment appeared to reduce their child’s sense of frustration and distractibility attributed to greater ease in studying. (Milani et al, 2003, p.93)
  17. 17. Solution 4: Text to speech Synthetic voice (Anna, Jess, Brian) Reader software (Balabolka, WordTalk)
  18. 18. Evidence for text to speechStudents took their SQA standard gradeexaminations in „Accessible PDF‟ format. Staff praised: “independence offered by the electronic format” Students “all found them easier to use than a scribe” “mean score was 8.93 compared with 8.00 for scribes” (Nisbet et al, 2005, p.1)
  19. 19. More evidence for text to speech Text to speech can „relieve the burden of decoding for struggling readers, allowing them to focus on comprehension‟ (Wise, Ring, and Olson, 2000). students „could double or triple the time that they could sustain reading‟ (Elkind et al, 1996, p.160).
  20. 20. Solution 5: Text and audiolinked by DAISY Structured document linking audio and text Text is highlighted in sync with audio
  21. 21. Solution 5: Speech recognition
  22. 22. Audio note taking„By using the note tool, they engaged in newliteracy practices by envisioning new waysto access their thought processes toengage in spontaneous, instantaneousresponse to the e-books‟ (Larson, 2009, p.256)
  23. 23. Evidence for DAISY„Research confirms that highlighting text as itis spoken can help learners pay attentionand remember more’ (cited in Silver-Pacuillaand Fleischman, 2006, p. 84)
  24. 24. DAISY for Dyslexia DAISY is used by people with dyslexia in Denmark and other countries. „Today some of these people with dyslexia even regard the computer as their equivalent to the glasses of the weak-sighted‟. (Tank & Frederikson, 2007, p.947)
  25. 25. Conversation reminderPlease tweet any questions, comments@techczech
  26. 26. What it means for day-to-daywork of Learning Technologyprofessionals? Skills and knowledge Expanded practice User training and advocacy
  27. 27. Knowledge and skills Structured documents Using PDFs accessibly Text to speech how and why Alternative formats like DAISY Sources of materials in alternative formats
  28. 28. Changed practice Produce all documents with structure Model good behavious for staff you support Try using documents in different formats Advocate for increased accessibility with users
  29. 29. User training: Mini curriculum Structured documents (save yourself time and use headings styles!!!!!) Modification of font size, colour (PDF, Word) Keyboard shortcuts Text to speech: how to create MP3 files from documents with software and voices
  30. 30. Learn Tools for PrintAccessibility Microsoft Word (LibreOffice) structured Adobe Acrobat Accessibility features Portable Apps (MyStudyBar) Synthetic voices Text to speech tools (Balabolka, WordTalk, Amis)
  31. 31. Keyboard ShortcutsDo you know how to type keyboard shortcutscorrectly?How many keyboard shortcuts do you know?
  32. 32. Text size Ctrl - Shift - < or > Ctrl - [ or ]Styles Ctrl - Alt - 1, 2, 3 Alt - Shift - arrow keys Ctrl - PgUp / PgDn
  33. 33. Key new terms to remember Print disability: New term covering existing disabilities and reflected in copyright regulation. Accessible documents: Can be modified to suit learners‟ needs and can be converted into alternative formats.
  34. 34. Where togo next?
  35. 35. Load2Learn.org.uk
  36. 36. #ITR12: Inclusive Technologiesfor Reading MOOC5 hours a week, 22 weeksFree pilot open to all, 150 signed up alreadyOctober 8Load2Learn.org.uk/training/onlinecourse
  37. 37. Collabor8 4 Change in InclusiveTechnologiesUnconference to come and share bestpractices 12 October, 6-9pm TES SEN Show, London Load2Learn.org.uk/training/c84c
  38. 38. Inclusive Technology TrainingDaysLoad2Learn.org.uk/training/trainingdaysComing up in October/November
  39. 39. Computer Productivity andAccessibility Cue CardsLoad2Learn.org.uk/training/cuecardsIncreased opportunities for learningCreative Commons licensed, remixencouraged
  40. 40. Thank you!Dominik Lukes, @techczechLoad2Learn.org.uk#ITR12