Accessibility in distance education (ASSC 2013)


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Distance Education presents many opportunities for open, flexible and accessible learning. There are key considerations when planning courses so that institutions can deliver on the commitment of providing equal access for all learners.

This presentation outlines accessibility considerations when creating courses for a distance education environment, possible barriers and their solutions, how universal design and accessibility are related as well as our responsibilities under Canadian law. Carrie jam packs her sessions and will provide concrete examples and resources for you to take back to your institution

An accessible version is available upon request

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Accessibility in distance education (ASSC 2013)

  1. 1. Carrie AntonAthabasca University
  2. 2. ACCESSIBILITYThe practice of making things usable bypeople of all abilities. When web and spacesare correctly developed, designed &implemented, we provide the opportunity forall users to haveequal accessandfunctionality
  3. 3. DISTANCE EDUCATIONOne of the primary concepts of distanceeducation (DE) is to offer students learninganytime, anywhere. Therefore, all DE resourcesmust be designed to afford students withdisabilities maximum opportunity to accessresources without the need for outsideassistance (e.g. interpreter, aides, scribe, etc.).
  4. 4. UD > ACCESSIBILITY > USABILITYUniversal Design incorporates those accessibility featuresinto the beginning stages of course design. This is aproactive approach to building broad usability for manyand alleviates the need for numerous individualaccommodations.Usability affects all users of electronic information, and allusers are equal.Accessibility, however, affects whether a person with adisability can access a website or the correspondingcourse materials; thereby, materials that are usable arenot automatically accessible.Educators must understand the needs of diverse learners
  5. 5. WHY BE ACCESSIBLE• Economical – less expensive than retrofit• Ethical - right thing to do to ensure equalaccess to education• Progressive – embraces innovation• Legal - the law
  6. 6. WHO IS AFFECTED?• Mobility – logging into a website is easier than getting into acar. BUT it is difficult to navigate the mouse or keyboardtargets do not have a visual focus• Vision – locating text since sites are organized differentlywith no standard commands• Hearing – accessing information read or seen• Low Literacy – someone not exposed to on line environmentand we make it non intuitive
  8. 8. ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGYAssistiveTechnology (AT)Blind LowVisionMobility LearningDisabilityDeaf Hard ofHearingSpeechScreen Magnifier x xScreen Reader xE-text Reader x x x x x xAssistiveListening DevicexClosedCaptioning (CC)x x xSpeechRecognitionx x
  9. 9. ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY 2AssistiveTechnology (AT)Blind LowVisionMobility LearningDisabilityDeaf Hard ofHearingSpeechAugmentativeAlternativeCommunication(AAC)X X xCustomDisplay/SystemThemex x x x x xCustomSwitch/InputSystemx xText To Speech(TTS)x x x X
  10. 10. GUIDELINES• Institutional Policy– Web Best Practice– Accessibility– Disability Services– Course Design– Procurement (IT)• Law– Duty toAccommodate– Alberta HumanRights Code– Copyright Act• Industry– WCAG (POUR)– UID, UD, UDL– HTML– Competitors
  11. 11. AU ACCESSIBILITY GUIDELINESItemText alternatives should be available for all non-text contentAlternatives provided for time-based mediaContent should be readable and understandable without losing informationor structure.Users should find it easy to see and hear contentAll interactive components should be accessible from keyboardUsers should be given adequate time to read and use contentContent should be designed in a way that reduces possibility of seizuresUsers should always be able to navigate, locate content and determine wherethey are on sitePublisher resources should offer accessible alternatives and versionsInform students who to contact if they need assistance
  13. 13. ACCESSIBILITY IN COURSESArea ItemSyllabus Include details about:• amount of online coursework,• course duration, exam duration• course materials• grading process for each learning activity• notice of labs (f2f, virtual, home),• participation requirements in social media (forums, web conferences,chat), and• technical support available to students.Course organization Separate coursework into clear sections (e.g. Readings, Discussions, WrittenWork)Instructions/directions Provide clear directions:• Do not rely on visual or auditory cues (e.g. colour, shape, size, location onpage, sound) to convey instructions.Examples of inappropriate cues:• “Click the hexagonal button”• “Refer to the list in the right-hand column”• “Continue after you hear the beep”Naming practices Activities and assignments in each unit/module should be named succinctlyand consistently.Page layout Should incorporate the following elements:• Including adequate white space• Including headings/subheadings to break up content and providestructure• Chunking text (use short paragraphs and point form)
  14. 14. ACCESSIBILITY IN COURSES 2Area ItemFont and Colour Font Families:• Use sans serif fonts (e.g. Arial, Helvetica, Verdana)• Avoid serif fonts (e.g. Times New Roman)Font Sizes:• Ensure that the font is large enough• Default font size should be 12 pt and no smaller than 10 ptFont Colour:• Ensure that there is enough contrast between background colour and fontcolour• Do not use colour for emphasis and page structure (e.g. warnings needmore than red indicator)Images and Graphics Provide alternative text or long descriptions of images• Add captions above photos, tables, diagrams, etc• Consider whether an image is essential to the content, if not, do not includeit or provide null alt textNavigation Include options for skipping to:• Main content of the page• Table of contents• Breadcrumb• Navigation elements at key places headings H1-H6
  16. 16. WEB CONTENT ACCESSIBILITYGUIDELINES (WCAG 2.0)P O U RPerceivableOperableUnderstandableRobust
  17. 17. ALT TEXT, LONG DESCRIPTIONThis graphic combines several disability-relatedimages into a single collage. Braille dots, an eyechart, finger spelled "508", and a side viewoutline of a persons head with a glowing spotfor the brain make up the top portion of thecollage. Several symbols/icons are superimposedin a strip over the lower part of the collage torepresent the following disabilities and/orassistive measures:• sign language interpretation• assistive listening devices• sound• wheelchair (for accessible entrances, etc.)• vision, no or low vision• brain/cognition
  19. 19. COLOR, SHAPE, SOUNDThere are two ways to get things done around here. The preferredmethod is shown in red.– your way– my wayThere are two ways to get things done around here. The secondmethod, also shown in red, is preferred.1. your way2. my waysomeone may not see color, has a monochrome display, poorlighting, mobile device, custom browser settings
  20. 20. NAVIGATE AND LOCATE CONTENTIncludes– Visible “Skip to…” content links– Consistent page structure coded headings– Table of contents or Index– Breadcrumbs “You are here xyz”– Navigation menu/lists– Course organization (e.g. clear sections likecourse materials, discussions, assignments,supplemental readings)
  21. 21. STRUCTURE, NAVIGATION• Hierarchical view of a page• Instead of changing fontsize and color• Each section of a page• Screen reader usersnavigate by heading• Meaningful Headings• H1 - H6
  22. 22. WEBAIM SURVEY: NEW WEBPAGES61%17%13%2%7%Method of finding information on lengthy webpageNavigate throughheadings on the pageUse the Find featureNavigate through thelinks on the pageNavigate throughlandmarksRead through page
  23. 23. WEBAIM SURVEY: SKIP TO CONTENTLINKS18%17%28%19%15%3%Usage of ‘skip to content’ linksWhenever theyreavailableOftenSometimesSeldomNeverNo Response
  25. 25. ACCESSIBILITY IN COURSES 3Area ItemFace-to-face instruction When students must attend seminars, examinations, labs or retreats facilities in which theseevents occur should be wheel chair accessible• Note: Furniture in these venues should be able to accommodate wheelchair users and haveaccessible restrooms. There should also be accessible parkingSynchronous learning Alternative methods of communication/material should be offered when an assignment oractivity requires that students participate in chats, discussion forums, telephone/video/webconferencingExamples of alternative communication approaches/issues:• Sign language interpreters• Video captions and transcripts• Accessible copies of slides (PDF, PowerPoint)• VOIP and captioned text chat for activities involving use of whiteboard software (notaccessible to assistive technology or keyboard users)Asynchronous learning Alternative methods of submitting assignments and interacting with course materials areprovided (in event LMS not accessible or usable)Examples: Downloadable/printable documents• Controllable playback, transcripts,100% Keyboard Functionality Do not lock or trap keyboard at one particular element on webpageUser should be able to navigate to and from all navigable page elements using only a keyboardAccessible Documents Develop documents considering accessibility first rather than retrofit (e.g. Word,PDF, PPT)• Use accessible principles for Page Layout, Font & Colour and ImageAlternatives, Organization with chunking, bullets, plain language• Use styles for structured headings, lists, section breaks NOT colour orformatting changes
  26. 26. ACCESSIBILITY IN COURSES 4Area ItemVideo, Flash Objects Video• Multimedia Player should provide users with option to control media with keyboard shortcuts(for non-mouse users)• Provide list of keyboard shortcuts to user• Ensure that keyboard controls do not depend on mouse over or conflict with browser hotkeys• Use captioning for video (allow user to turn on and off). White text on black background isstandard.Flash• Provide clickable Flash objects in another format like a linked TOC• Describe action taking place not what appears. The text “A yellow bubble drops into two bluebubbles” is not a meaningful description of a water moleculeAt minimum have text transcripts of video/presentationsAudio Multimedia Player should provide users with option to control media with keyboard shortcuts (for non-mouse users)• Provide keyboard controls for non-mouse users (e.g. shortcut keys or accessible player skins)• Provide list of keyboard controls for user• Ensure that keyboard controls do not depend on mouse over or conflict with browser hotkeysProvide text transcript of audio.Animations Use sparingly as flickering may affect people with photosensitive epilepsyEnsure that user controls for stopping or skipping flashing items are available for itemsthat flicker more than 3 times/second
  27. 27. ACCESSIBILITY IN COURSES 5Area ItemTimed Events • Do not use timed events unless time is a part of a real time event (e.g. auction) or part ofan activity where timing is essential (e.g. online gaming)• Allow users to deactivate timing, or extend the time allotted to a taskNotification & Contact • Provide clear statement of institution’s commitment to accessibility• Provide way for students to report inaccessible design features (email address or othercontact)• Provide information about who student should contact at AU if he/she needs to requestaccommodation and obtain alternate formats for printed materials (ASD office)• Indicate who student should contact if course materials are not accessibleSelecting a textbook Does publisher e-text have the following features?• Electronic files can be marked up using headings and subheadings or bookmarks• Text captions and descriptions of diagrams explain the graphical information• List of graphics, tables, charts and drawings essential to the course have been identifiedso that alt formats can be created as required.• Publisher provided e-text to Disability Related Student Service office (allows for alt formatcourse materials can be produced).• If e-text not available determine whether university has permission to scan the textbookMarkup & Web Pages • Markup should closely follow WCAG 2.0 Guidelines Priority AA. The above guidelines areapplicable to web pages as well. Web Accessibility and Usability Evaluators are listed inthe Appendix.Note: List of resources for formatting documents so that they are accessible can be found in theAppendix
  28. 28. UNDERSTANDABLE– Plain language– Chunking, bullets and sequences– Write for the web• I and you – instead of instructor & student – keep itconversational, that’s the web– Write for a variety of audience• ESL students: If they are copying/pasting intotranslator the chances of success are few– Simple declarative sentences– Less jargon or cumbersome sentences
  29. 29. ORGANISATION, MEANINGSystem concept descriptions provide:• The missions, features, capabilities and functions of thesystem• Major system components and interactions• Operational environment including manual proceduresrequired• Operational modes such as production, backup andmaintenance• Interfaces with other systems• Required performance characteristics such as response time,throughput and data volumes• Quality attributes such as availability, reliability and usability• Other considerations such as security, audit, safety andfailure modes in emergency situations• Deployment considerations such as acquisition of businessdata to support the system including data cleansing andloading• The classes of users that will interact with the system• Requirements for support of the system such as maintenanceorganization and help desk.System concept descriptions provide:Functional requirements• The missions, features, capabilities and functions of thesystem• Major system components and interactions• Operational environment including manual proceduresrequired• Operational modes such as production, backup andmaintenance• Interfaces with other systemsNon-functional requirements• Required performance characteristics such as response time,throughput and data volumes• Quality attributes such as availability, reliability and usability• Other considerations such as security, audit, safety andfailure modes in emergency situationsDeployment and Operational Requirements• Deployment considerations such as acquisition of businessdata to support the system including data cleansing andloading• The classes of users that will interact with the system• Requirements for support of the system such as maintenanceorganization and help desk.
  30. 30. 1st YEAR GEOLOGY COURSENeeds Improvement
  31. 31. AUDIO, VIDEO, ANIMATION• Most players allowplaying of captions• Easy to do• Built into most WebConferencing• Transcripts are theminimum• Avoid flashing orflickering content
  34. 34. VIDEO INDEX
  35. 35. 100% KEYBOARD FUNCTION• Make all functionality usable from thekeyboard– alternative mice & keyboards– Voice dictation– Screen readers• Visual keyboard focus• Make a Button a Button• A form field needs a label• Avoid JavaScript unless you can do it right
  36. 36. DOCUMENTSSimilar guidelines apply• Use Styles in original documents (Word,PowerPoint)• When you convert good originals to a PDFthe accessibility features transfer(headings, links, lists and image alt text)• Don’t use image only PDF: documents aresearchable• Ensure PDF files are searchable
  38. 38. TABLE USE• DO NOT use tables for layout use CSS• Data Tables need Table headings <TH>• Add Captions at the top and a Table SummaryName TelephoneBill Gates 555 77 854Mr. Bean 44 106 555 1563
  40. 40. CSS DISABLED
  41. 41. ACCESSIBLE IT• Keyboard functionality• Allows flexible use (font, color, line spacing)• Visually identify focus of the keyboard & mouse• Predictable behavior for buttons and controls• Consistent operation/look• Understandable controls and content(instructions, required field, buttons, form labels,error messages)• Avoid JavaScript or flash unless it is doneaccessibly
  43. 43. MATH 265 - MATHML
  44. 44. LMS ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES• LMS do not incorporate UDL (flexible, easy to use,consistent design, etc.)• Mouse driven• Rely on colour and images without alternatives• Unfriendly forms (blogs, wikis, quiz, embedded items)• Download/upload of content inaccessible• No captions/transcripts for multimedia• Meaningless link text “here”• Print to e-course without much redesign•
  45. 45. AFB STUDY 2008Percentage of Respondents who Provided Accessibility Ratings of Online Education Tools byType of Online Educational ToolAccessibility Rating Overall Blackboard Web CT Live Text Other1. No successfuluse/access6% 4% 0% 67% 7%2. Unreliable/inconsistent 24% 15% 50% 33% 50%3. Doable withpatience/effort30% 34% 50% 0% 7%4. Fairly usable with somequirks31% 38% 0% 0% 22%5. Accessible withoutdifficulty9% 9% 0% 0% 14%other included Moodle, Apex Learning, Aventa, MyMathLab, Wimba, ed2go,Elluminate, PowerSchool, and other various online educational tools availableexclusively through certain educational programs
  46. 46. Problematic Features of Online Educational Tools by Type of Online Educational ToolProblematic Features Blackboard Web CT Live Text OtherAssessments Yes Yes Yes YesAssignments Yes Yes Yes YesAttachments Yes No Yes NoReal-time chat feature Yes Yes No YesColor contrast Yes No Yes YesDiscussion board Yes Yes No NoDocuments Yes Yes Yes YesE-mail Yes Yes No YesGraphics Yes No No YesMaintenance Yes No No YesModifying text Yes No No YesNavigation Yes Yes Yes YesRecordings Yes No No NoSecurity Yes No No NoSighted assistancerequiredYes Yes Yes YesTechnical support Yes Yes Yes NoTimed graded activities Yes No No YesTraining Yes No No YesVideos Yes No No YesYes = problematic
  47. 47. OHIO, ILLINOIS, INDIANA 2011• Tested• Login andConfiguration/CompatibilityTesting• Personalization andCustomization• Navigation• Common Modules/Tools(Student Facing)• Forms• Authoring Tools/ContentCreation (Instructor Facing)• Help and Documentation• Features Unique to LMS thatAffect Accessibility• Blackboard 9.1 SP3• D2L 9.2• Moodle 1.9• Sakai 2.8.0•
  48. 48. OHIO, ILLINOIS, INDIANA 2012• Ilinois State – Hadi Rangin Blog Blackboard 9.1 Service Pack 6 & 8 Desire2Learn 10 Moodle 2.3 SAKAI 2.8
  49. 49. • Login, Configuration, andCompatibility Testing• Personalization andCustomization– Layout Customization– Styling– Session Time Out– Saving Current State– Default Page– Selecting Editor– Alerts• Navigation– Page Title– Breadcrumbs– Navigation Bars & Menus– Navigation Technique– Linearization and TabOrder– Link Type and Link Text– Visible Indication of CursorFocus– Tooltips Technique• Forms– Form Control Labels– Form Submission• Help and Documentation– Inline Help– Tutorials and Guides• Common Student FacingModules/Tools– Announcements– Discussion– E-mail– Chat– Assignments, Activities,Course Content, LearningModules• Navigation• Up/Downloads– Grade Book– Quizzing/TestingComponents• Navigation Features• Question Types• Saving QuizProgress/Draft• Notification andVerification• Authoring Tools & ContentCreation– File Uploading– Authoring Tool– Grade Book (InstructorLevel)– Multimedia ContentHandling
  50. 50. OTHER STUDIESNorth Carolina State U Squire Foundation – VancouverAccessDL U of Washington DO-IT & U of Guelph MORE..
  51. 51. Neil Squire Foundation: TTS in Moodle(with pronunciation)Moodle 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 released 12/14/2012
  52. 52. WHY IS ACCESSIBILITY NOTHAPPENING 90%• No mandate• No compliance incentives• Anticipated cost, especially retrofit• Unclear Guidelines especially certain material OER• Pushback (academic freedom, visual design vsaccessible or intuitive design, no time, no resources)• No compliance is better than half compliance• IT products without accessibility considerations• OER lack of accessibility guidelines• Stats justification - % that will benefit
  53. 53. IT’S A PROCESSChampions of the cause– often enthusiasm isn’t enough Learn your stuff– Accessibility reviews– Awareness workshopsAt least one executive on board (ethical, economical, legal)Values built into corporate documents– Need a leg to stand on– UD/UID/Accessibility Policies– Best practice/guideline docsImplementation– Stakeholder participation– Promote guidelines/BP– Resources - easy access with examples– Faculty and staff training (access challenges, standards, resources)
  54. 54. SHARED RESPONSIBILITYEnsuring that distance education courses,materials and resources are accessible to studentswith disabilities is a shared institutionalresponsibility. Faculty need to receive appropriatetraining in order to ensure that they understandwhat constitutes accessibility, and institutionsmust provide faculty with both the necessarytraining and resources to ensure accessibility.
  55. 55. INFO RESOURCES• WebAIM’s Introduction to Web Accessibility• Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act ImplementationGuidelines• iCITA HTML Best Practices• ATHEN The Access Technology In Higher Education Network• NCDAE• Accessibility Conferences & workshops• NCAM• CAST – UID• Accessibility initiatives in other institutions• Litigation in the industry
  56. 56. DOCUMENT RESOURCESCreating accessible PDF Use of Alternative Text Acrobat accessibility guide
  57. 57. LMS RESOURCES• All these products are significantly moreaccessible than a few years ago.• Blackboard Accessibility Interest Group• Desire2Learn Accessibility Interest Group• Moodle Docs Accessibility Page Accessibility Tracker• SAKAI Accessibility Working Group Page
  58. 58. WEB TESTING TOOLSBrowser Plug Ins• Firefox Web Developer Extension• Firefox Accessibility Extension• Firefox WAVE Accessibility Toolbar• Internet Explorer Web Accessibility Toolbar Contrast Analyzers• Fujitsu Colour Selector application for use on any files not just web pages.• Juicy Studio Luminosity & Contrast Analyzer & Firefox Toolbar• Juicy Studio Colour Toolbar for Firefox Test
  59. 59. EASY WEB TEST QUESTIONS• Select all (control A) shows you the items screen reader and voicedictation users will have trouble accessing• Disable style sheets for a text only view• Press the TAB key and watch if where you are moving has a visualindicator• Is there a visual indicator for the mouse hover on actionabletargets (links, buttons)• Can you Zoom the view without loosing content or structure• Is there a transcript for multimedia• Tool tip pop ups describe an important image• Do diagrams have a caption to describe what we’re seeing• Where can I get help?
  60. 60. QUESTIONSCarrie AntonAssistive TechnologistAthabasca Universitycarriea@athabascau.caPh: 780-421-2548Thank you!