The COVID-19 outbreak has led to the sudden move to online classes and remote work for millions around the world. Whether you’re learning how to use a new video conferencing app or are trying to get your head around an online education platform, we’ve gathered information on the accessibility of some common products we at Knowbility have found useful for our remote work. To help you choose accessible products, we’re including links to company accessibility pages and Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) information.
Zoom Cloud Meetings offers video conferencing and webinar hosting services. It’s available on all common platforms: Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. Zoom’s accessibility page has information on screen reader and keyboard-only support, links to VPATs, and much more useful info.
Wirecutter, a review site that’s part of the New York Times, selected Zoom as the best videoconferencing service. The article 8 Tips for How to Use Zoom Like a Pro has advice on using the service to its full potential.
The author and broadcaster Jonathan Mosen is offering his audiobook Meet Me Accessibly, a guide to Zoom Cloud Meetings from a blindness perspective free of charge. The book gives step-by-step directions for using the Zoom application with a screen reader on Windows and iOS.
A household name, Skype is another powerful tool for video meetings and collaboration. Skype has a comprehensive accessibility page that includes tutorials to help you get started with a screen reader on desktop and mobile.
Skype is a Microsoft product, and you can find information on Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility on this page.
Real Time Collaboration
Our tech team is distributed around the world. So, it’s crucial to have a robust platform for chat and document sharing. Enter Slack. Available on all common operating systems, the program allows for channel creation and group chats.
Slack’s most comprehensive public accessibility statement is its commitment to follow Canada’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Covering both its software products as well as hiring practices and accessibility in the built environment, it is a model document.
Learning Management Systems and More
As the nation’s education system swiftly moves online, students, teachers, and professors are learning a dizzying array of learning management systems and software tools to continue learning and teaching.
Jamestown Community College in New York
Jamestown Community College in New York has an excellent page with the accessibility statements and VPATs of products it uses for instruction. From Adobe to Windows and dozens of other tools in between, this list is thorough: Accessibility Statements of Course Technologies.
Google is among the biggest players in education technology. Chromebooks, which run Google’s Chrome OS, are now commonplace in classrooms across the United States. Google has a comprehensive guide to Chromebook accessibility functions that come built-in to every Chromebook.
Austin Independent School District
Finally, we want to highlight the efforts of our friends at the Austin Independent School District (AISD). The AISD has created a page full of resources for online and offline activities divided by grade level. This includes sample schedules to help students manage time well while schools are closed. Links to assignments are provided.
We’re here for you. Let us help.
We’re living in extraordinary times. Now more than ever, students, parents, and teachers with disabilities need to have access to online learning tools that are designed for everyone. We hope you find this resource useful in your quest for accessibility in the digital world.
Here at Knowbility, we are committed to ensuring that students with disabilities have equal opportunity to access learning materials and activities remotely.
While we understand the challenges inherent in connecting assistive technologies and ensuring accessible learning materials, we want to hear from you about the specific challenges you face. We will use your input to develop targeted resources and will host a free weekly meetup. We want to help parents, students, and teachers by facilitating accessible tools and methods to make learning from home equally available to students with disabilities.
Please take the time to answer a few questions to help Knowbility understand how we can support your accessible teaching and learning needs. Together we can do this. Thank you!