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TECHNOLOGICAL BARRIERS: 
Moving Toward Fully Accessible Websites, 
Application Materials, and Information Sharing 
Kate Fo...
WHAT IS “IT” ACCESSIBILITY? 
•Providing access to services and information and 
thereby complying with Title II of the ADA...
THE LAW AND ACCESSIBILITY 
Why Hasn’t Accessibility Been Addressed? 
•Ambiguous court rulings and legal interpretation 
•F...
PENN STATE & THE NATIONAL 
FEDERATION OF THE BLIND 
NFB Complaint 
•“Penn State subjects blind students and faculty to 
pe...
THE SETTLEMENT: PSU AND THE NFB 
Requirements for Compliance 
•Audit 
•Policy update 
•Develop and post plan 
•All “offici...
IN GOOD COMPANY 
Other Institutions Under Settlements 
•2014 – LSAC 
•2014 – University of Colorado, Boulder 
•2014 – Atla...
ACCESSIBLE VS. INACCESSIBLE 
CAN YOU HEAR THE DIFFERENCE?
HOW SCREEN READERS READ WEBSITES 
AND DOCUMENTS 
•Text transformed into audio and braille 
•Page is linear – reads top to ...
CONSEQUENCES OF INACCESSIBLE WEBSITES
LESSONS LEARNED 
Goal: Change Organizational Culture 
•Policies and strategies 
•Communities of practice 
•Processes and s...
ADDRESSING ACCESSIBILITY: 
EDUCATION ABROAD OFFICE PERSPECTIVE 
• Can all students access online study abroad information ...
PUBLIC WEBSITE INFORMATION: HEADERS 
Proper Formatting 
of Headings 
• Screen readers can be told 
to read only the headin...
PUBLIC WEBSITE INFORMATION: CONTENT 
Lists 
•Bulleted items 
•Numbered lists 
Text Formatting 
•Bold words and ALL CAPS ca...
PUBLIC WEBSITE INFORMATION: PHOTOS 
Photos 
•Alt tag: Description of what is actually shown in the photo 
•Caption: Brief ...
INFORMATION SHARING (EMAIL 
CORRESPONDENCE, ONLINE WEBINARS, ETC.) 
Email Correspondence 
•Same formatting guidelines as w...
INFORMATION SHARING: DOCUMENTS 
Microsoft Office 
•Word Documents 
•With proper headers and formatting Word documents can ...
PDF DEMO
UTILIZING STUDIOABROAD/APPLICATION 
DATABASE 
First, Is the Software You Use Accessible? 
•Terra Dotta has available a web...
CASE STUDY: PROGRAM BROCHURE PAGES 
•Building a Template 
•Using a Test Page 
•Penn State Program Pages in StudioAbroad 
•...
ACCESSIBILITY OF INTERNATIONAL 
PARTNER SITES AND DOCUMENTS 
Documents Owned by a Foreign Institution 
• What is the respo...
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GLOBAL 
PROGRAMS 
Making an Office-wide Plan for Your Larger Unit 
•Priority 1: Public Facing Items 
•...
SCENARIOS/DISCUSSION 
Discussion Topics 
•Identifying problem areas in your universities/offices 
•Pin-point the problem a...
RESOURCES 
Learn More About This Important Issue 
• National Federation of the Blind (NFB) offers an accessibility toolkit...
QUESTIONS 
Kate Fox 
Education 
Abroad Adviser 
Penn State 
kaf29@psu.edu 
Christian Vinten- 
Johansen 
IT Manager 
Penn S...
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Technological Barriers: Moving Toward Fully Accessible Websites, Application Materials, and Information Sharing

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This session will give education abroad professionals and diversity advocates information about accessibility to information on a website, in documents, and in application databases as it relates to federal legislation (see www.section508.gov). Presenters will discuss how a settlement between Penn State and the National Federation of the Blind affected institutional change at the university level and implementation at the unit level. Participants will discuss current practices and how they might address technological barriers for study abroad students.

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Technological Barriers: Moving Toward Fully Accessible Websites, Application Materials, and Information Sharing

  1. 1. TECHNOLOGICAL BARRIERS: Moving Toward Fully Accessible Websites, Application Materials, and Information Sharing Kate Fox, Whitney Strickler, Christian Vinten- Johansen Penn State University
  2. 2. WHAT IS “IT” ACCESSIBILITY? •Providing access to services and information and thereby complying with Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. What is it? •Federal law is usually taken seriously • …except regarding universal access to digital life • …until lately Why Should You Care? •Students and stakeholders with disabilities •Focus on technically challenging disabilities •Blindness •Deafness / hearing impaired Who Are We Doing This For?
  3. 3. THE LAW AND ACCESSIBILITY Why Hasn’t Accessibility Been Addressed? •Ambiguous court rulings and legal interpretation •Fear of moving first •Unknown costs •Design precedent The Laws •Rehabilitation Act of 1973 •Section 504 •Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) •ADA Amendment Act (2008)
  4. 4. PENN STATE & THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND NFB Complaint •“Penn State subjects blind students and faculty to pervasive and ongoing discrimination in providing access to services and information and thereby violates Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.” Timeline •November 2010 – Press release •October 2011 – Settlement signed •October 2014 – Deadline to comply
  5. 5. THE SETTLEMENT: PSU AND THE NFB Requirements for Compliance •Audit •Policy update •Develop and post plan •All “official” web pages •Procurement process •Library websites and services •Learning Management System •Classrooms •Clickers
  6. 6. IN GOOD COMPANY Other Institutions Under Settlements •2014 – LSAC •2014 – University of Colorado, Boulder •2014 – Atlantic Cape Community College •2014 – Miami University of Ohio •2013 – Louisiana Tech •2013 – University of California, Berkeley •2013 – South Carolina Technical College System •2012 – University of Montana •2012 – Florida State University •2012 – Maricopa Community College District •2011 – Northwestern University •2011 – New York University •2010 – Penn State University •2009 – Law School Admissions Council •2009 – Arizona State, Princeton, Reed, Pace, Darden School of Business, Case Western •2007 – California State University San Bernardino •2005 – University of California
  7. 7. ACCESSIBLE VS. INACCESSIBLE CAN YOU HEAR THE DIFFERENCE?
  8. 8. HOW SCREEN READERS READ WEBSITES AND DOCUMENTS •Text transformed into audio and braille •Page is linear – reads top to bottom, but… •Can be navigated by lists of: •headings •links •form fields Text •Images need “alternative” text descriptions •Videos may need audio descriptions Images and Videos •Poor or missing text alternatives for images •Unlabeled form fields •Unstructured data tables •Missing page structure •Misleading or useless link text •Poor page design •Missing page title •Missing or no video captions Blockers
  9. 9. CONSEQUENCES OF INACCESSIBLE WEBSITES
  10. 10. LESSONS LEARNED Goal: Change Organizational Culture •Policies and strategies •Communities of practice •Processes and systems Top-down and Bottom-up Crucial to Success •Top-down = policies, strategies and influence •Bottom-up = develop skills in communities of practice Processes Ensure Consistency •Workflow for captioning videos •Q/A testing websites and content Common Language Facilitates Change Do Not Rely Too Heavily on Results of Automated Tools •Hire staff with disabilities to test websites Create Common Goals and Language Among Communities of Practice Policy Must Align with Federal Law
  11. 11. ADDRESSING ACCESSIBILITY: EDUCATION ABROAD OFFICE PERSPECTIVE • Can all students access online study abroad information and application processes without limitation? Ask • A student with visual impairment should not have any different of an experience navigating the study abroad process than a student with no visual impairment. Consider •While we can make accessibility a priority on the front-end, it is still important to have realistic conversations with a prospective student about the on-site experience and if similar accommodations could be made abroad. Remember
  12. 12. PUBLIC WEBSITE INFORMATION: HEADERS Proper Formatting of Headings • Screen readers can be told to read only the headings of a particular page; however the headers must be properly formatted for the reader to know it is a header. • Title of page: Heading 1 • Next level: Heading 2 • Next level: Heading 3 • Headers should not be links.
  13. 13. PUBLIC WEBSITE INFORMATION: CONTENT Lists •Bulleted items •Numbered lists Text Formatting •Bold words and ALL CAPS cause the screen reader to shout the word at the user •Using directional language in text •Bad: “See below” •Embed Links into text •Good: Learn tips that will help keep study abroad affordable while searching for a program. •Bad: To learn more, click here •Very Bad: http://global.psu.edu/info/going-abroad/students/funding-study-abroad/keeping-it-affordable Acronyms •Screen readers read acronyms as words, not as separate letters •Example: United States written as “US” is pronounced “us”
  14. 14. PUBLIC WEBSITE INFORMATION: PHOTOS Photos •Alt tag: Description of what is actually shown in the photo •Caption: Brief explanation or attention-grabbing phrase about content of webpage
  15. 15. INFORMATION SHARING (EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE, ONLINE WEBINARS, ETC.) Email Correspondence •Same formatting guidelines as websites •Beware Attachments •Attached documents should be accessible too! Webinars and Videos •Provide written transcript with all audio Course Management Systems •Caution: Online content should be accessible too Social Media •Caution: Most social media apps are not accessible
  16. 16. INFORMATION SHARING: DOCUMENTS Microsoft Office •Word Documents •With proper headers and formatting Word documents can be accessible •Create a template to work from for all new documents •Excel •PowerPoint •Best to use existing templates •Avoid bells and whistles (e.g. spinning text) PDFs •Possible to make them accessible, however: •It’s time consuming •It’s very difficult •Better to convert into an accessible format •OR, offer an accessible alternative next to the PDF
  17. 17. PDF DEMO
  18. 18. UTILIZING STUDIOABROAD/APPLICATION DATABASE First, Is the Software You Use Accessible? •Terra Dotta has available a website with a voluntary report on the accessibility of StudioAbroad’s features. Applying Through StudioAbroad •Questionnaires •Instructions •Signature Documents •Materials (owned by your office) •Learning Content •Recommendations Communicating Through Studio •Email messages •Reminders
  19. 19. CASE STUDY: PROGRAM BROCHURE PAGES •Building a Template •Using a Test Page •Penn State Program Pages in StudioAbroad •Old version: CLOSED Dept HRIM: Maastricht •Updated Version: CIEE: Amman, Diplomacy and Policy Studies Front-facing: Program Pages •Materials and instructions provided to students once they have started an application should also be accessible. •Old Version: HRIM: Maastricht Application •Updated Version: CIEE Application Instructions Back-end: Materials/Documents •Try to match your program pages stylistically to the rest of your website. •Use the same theme throughout the site (i.e. budget sheet notes, materials, documents, etc.) •Team effort: Checks and Balances Tips
  20. 20. ACCESSIBILITY OF INTERNATIONAL PARTNER SITES AND DOCUMENTS Documents Owned by a Foreign Institution • What is the responsibility of your institution? Contacting Your Partners • Good Faith Effort • Create Awareness of Accessibility Issues • Example Email to Partners Implementing Outcome of Contact with Partner Institution • If provided an accessible document, use it! • If not provided an accessible document… • Arrange suitable alternative if possible and follow up with partner if necessary.
  21. 21. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GLOBAL PROGRAMS Making an Office-wide Plan for Your Larger Unit •Priority 1: Public Facing Items •Website •Correspondence (e.g. email, newsletters, etc.) •PDF and online documents •Priority 2: Back-End Items •Application system •Internal documents
  22. 22. SCENARIOS/DISCUSSION Discussion Topics •Identifying problem areas in your universities/offices •Pin-point the problem areas •Volunteers?
  23. 23. RESOURCES Learn More About This Important Issue • National Federation of the Blind (NFB) offers an accessibility toolkit. • Mobility International USA (MIUSA) • Penn State AccessAbility website • W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 • Penn State World Campus training module • Addresses accessibility of online course materials.
  24. 24. QUESTIONS Kate Fox Education Abroad Adviser Penn State kaf29@psu.edu Christian Vinten- Johansen IT Manager Penn State v23@psu.edu Whitney Strickler Education Abroad Adviser Penn State wss11@psu.edu

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