>> Jay McKay: Hello. Good afternoon everyone. Welcome to another Toolkit Tuesday. I am Jay McKay. I'm Director of Community Programs here at Knowbility and welcome to Creating Accessible Course Content. We do have some slides for you today. They are available through a Bitly link and I'll make sure that those go up in the chat, but it is going to be B-I-T.L-Y/JanToolkit2023Slides. That'll be a capital J, capital T, and a capital S. Please feel free to hop in there so you can see what we're going to be talking about today. Like I said, I'll put the link in the chat as well. Let's go ahead and get started.
For those of you new to Knowbility, welcome, welcome. Knowbility is a nonprofit organization. We are based out of Austin, Texas, but really we work around the globe. Melissa and I are actually both located in Alabama, but in two different cities in Alabama, so it's kind of fun, but we work throughout the world in our mission of trying to make digital spaces more inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities. We do that through our community programs. That includes today, our Toolkit Tuesdays, which is really part of our K-12 Access Toolkit, which is resources and events that support teachers, administrators, students, and parents looking to build inclusive classrooms designed with accessibility in mind for all students.
We also have Be A Digital Ally. That is our monthly webinar series where we talk about best practices in accessible design, and it's designed for any type of content creator, whatever your level of expertise. You could be the voluntold church volunteer running your Facebook group to the experienced web developer becoming interested in web accessibility.
We also have our AccessU conference that is currently on sale right now, happening in May, and that is happening in May from May 9th through the 12th, Austin, Texas, but also we have our virtual participants from everywhere in the world through Zoom events. And that will be four wonderful days of just good, hands-on, in-depth learning with peers and experts from around the world on good accessible digital design and technologies.
And then of course we also have our Accessibility Internet Rally. That is our annual website competition where we pair development teams with nonprofit organizations to build the most accessible, beautiful, wonderful websites out there. And of course, one of the ways you can always support Knowbility in our mission is through our donate page, and that is Knowbility.org/donate.
Now onto the good stuff. Let me introduce you to the wonderful Melissa Green. She will be running today's session for us today. Melissa comes to us as our Digital Accessibility Specialist here at Knowbility with our Accessibility Services Team. She is an experienced teacher, librarian, and technologist and specializes in instructional, accessible, and assistive technology and helping diverse learners, teachers and other technology users meet their goals. A wonderful resource for us to have on our staff, and of course, just a wonderful presenter. I'm really excited about today's session. I'm really just going to step back and let Melissa take it away from here.
>> Melissa Green: Thank you so much, Jay. And I'd also like to thank my colleague Anthony, who is live-tweeting our session. If you are a Twitter user and would like to join along, the Knowbility Twitter account is at Knowbility with a K-N-O-W-B-I-L-I-T-Y, and you can see that there.
I'm thrilled to be joining you for Toolkit Tuesday. I have previously participated as an attendee, but this is my first session as a presenter and I'm just thrilled to be with this particular group and to be speaking on this particular topic.
Accessible course content makes it easier for all students to read and engage with materials, which can help overall learning. During today's session, we are going to explore steps that you can take to make sure that your digital course content is accessible to all learners, regardless of what learning management system or instructional technologies, or productivity tools you use. Whether that be Blackboard, Moodle, D2L, Microsoft Office products, the Google Suite, principles that you can apply across the tools that you use to teach and learn.
Specifically, we'll be addressing these principles. Text readability, headings and lists, image description, tables, links, documents, audio and video, and tools and strategies you can use to evaluate the accessibility of your digital course content.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 7.2 million US public school students, roughly 15% of the entire US public school population, received special education services in 2020-2021, the most recent year for which that data is available. And while accommodations can address some of these students' needs, some of the needs of these students, this approach places the burden on the individual student and their family who must disclose their disability and navigate what can sometimes be challenging systemic barriers to receive the adjustments necessary for their academic success. Creating instructional materials with accessibility in mind reduces the need for accommodations and benefits all learners, not just those who use assistive technology like screen readers or switches or those who receive special education services.
Students with disabilities taking online courses report these barriers. Uncaptioned videos, disorganized content, PDF files, and other documents not readable by screen readers. Now, those were cited as commonly occurring or most problematic issues. Many instructors are not aware of these access barriers for their students. Those who are find it challenging sometimes to address them. They may not have the knowledge or skills to fix the problems, they may not be able to address all of the issues. Some of them might lie in systems, not necessarily pages or posts of content. Resistance.
These are all sort of things that can be barriers to implementing more accessible course content, but ensuring your course content is accessible is vital if learners with disabilities are to be able to access and engage with your materials. It's useful and usable for everyone. Every course is different, but there are some principles you can apply with minimal effort in every course that will have a major impact on learner's ability to access, engage with content and learn.
Let's get into those now. The first principle is using actual text rather than images of text. While it's possible to describe images in such a way that assistive technology users can access those descriptions, actual text offers several advantages over images of text. Screen readers can read text. Learners with low vision who need to enlarge the text are able to do that. Actual text scales better when it's magnified, instead of an image of text. Learners can search for text content and text loads more easily for learners with poor network connections.
This slide includes two presentations of the Robert Frost poem Nothing Gold Can Stay. On the left side of the screen, an image of the poem's text appears. On the right side, the poem is presented using digital text that can be searched, copied and pasted, and read aloud by a screen reader. Actual text is vital for screen reader access, but also beneficial for students who need to search for particular content or copy and paste.
The next principle involves font sizes. When working with text, avoid using small font sizes. I like to use a font size of at least 12, preferably 14. This slide includes two images. One is a screenshot of the text editor in the Blackboard Learning Management System. It's pretty typical of rich text editors in learning management systems. The one in Canvas and the one in Moodle look pretty similar. This text editor, like the others, offers the ability to adjust font size. In the screenshot, the currently selected font is Arial with a 12-point size. On the right side of the slide is an image of the font size box in the Word home tap. Again, showing that you have the ability to adjust the size of the font. Web content accessibility guidelines are phrased a little differently, talking about things like pixels and percentages, but when it comes to a learning management system or a document, usually what we have to work with is point size and recommend at least 12.
Ensuring sufficient contrast is also vital if you want learners to be able to access and interact with your content. Text is much easier to read when there is significant contrast between the foreground text color and the background color. Low-contrast text can be hard for learners with visual disabilities or color vision deficiency, also known as colorblindness, but it's not just a barrier for those students. It's also difficult to read when it's projected in class, especially on an older projector with a bulb that hasn't been replaced in a while. And I'm giggling because this was typical of the classrooms that I've spent time in. That can be challenging. It can also be difficult to read on a mobile with bright light or glare on the screen and on low-quality monitors. It can be difficult to read in a room where there is a lot of sunlight streaming in and shining on the screen. Poor contrast can also cause eye strain. It makes content hard to discover, hard to scan. Good contrast means everyone see the text clearly and enjoys a better overall reading experience.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG define a formula for determining if the contrast between the foreground text color and the background color is sufficient. There are tools available that let you check your color combinations to see if they meet those requirements. I'll talk a bit more about those moving forward. Even if your documents, or let's say images you're creating for social media, may not have to meet the web content accessibility guidelines, that rule, that ratio is a good benchmark. The tools that are available for meeting it are good tools for helping you create content that has sufficient contrast, and we'll look at those more closely in just a moment.
This slide includes a screenshot of the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker, one of the tools. It is identifying poor contrast between a gray background and a slightly darker gray foreground text. And the results are indicating that this combination fails to meet WCAG. I also find them difficult to read.
Another principle involves not using color alone to convey meaning. When working with color, you must make sure that it isn't your only way of communicating important information. And again, this is primarily to ensure that your content is accessible to people with vision disabilities, either not able to see color or perceive the differences between certain combinations of colors, but it's also a principle of Universal Design for Learning. By using more than just color to convey information, you're providing multiple means of representation, both color and pattern, both color and text, making it more likely that all learners will be able to access and interact with that content.
This slide depicts colored labels that are used in the Trello project management system. Trello has a colorblind mode, and here we see the labels both with and without colorblind mode enabled. When colorblind mode is enabled, both patterns and color, not just color, are used to differentiate labels. You may not be using Trello, but you can use this approach for other types of data visualizations. For example, Microsoft Office, when you create a chart or a graph, instead of just having solid color slices of the pie chart or bars on the bar chart, you're able to apply patterns to help users differentiate between those different segments of information.
Other examples of not using color alone to convey meaning, perhaps you listed in a syllabus or communication with parents certain readings, and you indicate required readings in red. Well, if someone can't see to see red or if they're unable to perceive the difference between red and say the dark gray text around it, they're not going to be able to determine which readings are required and which ones are optional. Instead, you might want to use text to communicate that information. Here are the required readings, here are the optional readings, or both color and text. Make it red, but maybe also include the word required next to it, not using just color to convey meaning.
Another key accessibility principle is helping the user navigate to relevant content. Headings and lists add structure and meaning to documents and web pages by labeling each content part and indicating its order and relative importance. Headings tell us what's on the page, what's important, and how those things relate to each other as well as the order in which they should be read. Someone who does not have full use of their vision can't see larger or bold font used to indicate titles, headings, or subheadings, but they can perceive the appropriate markup, heading markup, heading styles, and use it to navigate through a document or webpage with their screen reader or other assistive technology.
In order for your content to be accessible, it's important that you organize it using true headings and lists and the ability to do both is present in the Microsoft Office content editor as well as the Blackboard content editor, which is what is represented on this screen. You'll also find the ability to style text as headings in the other learning management systems and authoring tools I've mentioned.
What I mean by proper heading styles is rather than, well, let's think about a paper. When I first wrote papers, that was in word processing days, and I was given instructions, told to follow a style guide that said the title of my paper should be at the top of the page, centered, maybe in a slightly larger font, and underlined. When I transitioned to the digital environment, that's how I created headings in my documents. I made them big, I made them bold, I underlined them, but I wasn't really creating actual true headings. In order to create the actual true headings, you have to select the text, and then in the Word home tab, the styles group, apply a particular style, heading one, heading two, heading three. Headings should follow a logical structure. Heading one for top level headings, heading two for section headings, and so on.
Describing images is another fundamental principle of digital accessibility. I've been trying to model this principle as we go along, so I hope you've picked up on that and perceived some examples of it already, but here's another one, another couple of them. This slide includes two images with possible descriptions. A painting is described as, "A classic painting demonstrating the use of light and color to create composition." A description of a pie chart begins with the words, "This graph summarizes the survey results from a study." Image descriptions are read by screen readers, allowing the content and the function of the image to be accessible to those with certain visual or cognitive disabilities. An image description is displayed in browsers if the image file is not loaded or when the user has chosen not to view images, and it can be read by search engines. Again, the image description is vital for those who can't see the image. They need that description to describe the content or the function of it.
The image description is also helpful for things like search, as well as just general understanding. For example, the picture of the painting. The possible description here was, "A classic painting demonstrating the use of light and color to create composition." It's described in that way, but not with the title and the artist. Well, that might be a good type of description to use on a quiz, for example. But what it's really doing, what I really want you to notice about it, is that it's saying why the image is there, what's the purpose of the image. It's not just describing what's in it, it's saying what's significant about this. What I want you to notice about it is the use of light and color to create composition. And that information is beneficial to users who are using their vision and those who aren't to know why is this significant? Why did my instructor want me to read it?
I want to back up to the example of the pie chart as well. One, for the visual users here, it exemplifies the approach I was talking about with the different patterns, I believe I created this, fairly easily in PowerPoint or Microsoft Word. There are three pie pieces in the pie. The pie is representing questions people lie about. 80% of the respondents lied about whether they had been flossing, 10% lied about weight and 10% lied about age.
When I started the example, I said that a description of this image starts with the word. This graph summarizes the survey results from a study. That description alone would not be sufficient. What study? What's the summary? But I would go on to say something like, "This graph summarizes the survey results from a study asking people what they lie about," and then go on to describe it as I did a few moments ago. I just wanted to point that out since I had included what I would consider insufficient image description to start off the example. I wanted to make sure to flesh that out a little more.
An image description, even for the same image, could be different in different contexts or for different purposes. I'm thinking about my university where I got my master's degree. It's the University of Alabama. It's represented by a red script A that has several serifs on it. And in a graphic design course, I might say a red script A, Pantone color 12345, it has six serifs, because graphic designers, that's significant, what color it is, the serifs, maybe the kerning. In other contexts, maybe just University of Alabama logo might be sufficient. Or if that image was a link, it might be University of Alabama or University of Alabama homepage. Even the same image can be described in different ways in different contexts. What I ask myself when I go to describe an image is what do I want people to know or do as a result of having seen this image? And I let that guide the way.
Images can be described in alternative text associated with image files. In web speak, the alt attribute of the image element, or in the context for surroundings of the image itself. You can add image descriptions using your document or presentation software or when adding images to your learning management system. And that's exemplified in a couple of screenshots on this slide.
On the left is the Blackboard Ultra Insert Image from Web dialogue. Users provide the URL for an image and then supply alternative text. In this case, the URL ends in an image named smokies.png, and the alternative text is bridge in the Smokey Mountains. On the right side of the slide is a picture of the Office 365 Alt Text dialogue with the prompt, "How would you describe this object and its context to someone who is blind? One to two sentences recommended." Those are two places where you might find yourself adding image descriptions.
I'll also point out in the Microsoft Office dialogue, there is a generate a description for me option. This is something found in new versions, Microsoft 365. It's powered by artificial intelligence. If you click the button, it will attempt to evaluate the image and write a description. In my experience, I've yet to have it write one that I did not have to alter, particularly images of text. I've never had it actually pick up on text in images. There's nothing wrong with using that tool, but I would use it as a starting point. Click it, see what it says, but be prepared to review and edit those descriptions.
There's also a checkbox with the ability to mark an image as decorative. You would use mark as decorative for something like a horizontal line that divides different sections of the course homepage or the Word document. It's not really meaningful. It's there for visual users to break things up a bit, but you can mark it as decorative so assistive technology users don't even have to hear it announced.
Let's talk tables. Generally speaking, you should only use tables for data and not for visual layout. On the left side of this slide, there's an example of a data table. The table is titled Shelly's Daughters and it has three columns headed name, age, and birthday. It has two rows headed Jackie and Beth. A visual user can scan the data table and see that there are two daughters, Jackie and Beth, that Jackie's age is five and their birthday is April 5th. Beth's age is eight and their birthday is January 14th. This is data presented in tabular format.
On the right side of this slide, there's an example of a layout table. The table doesn't really include tabular information, rather it's used to align a photograph. In this case, it's a headshot photograph of Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers mascot, with text. Generally speaking, you really want to try to use tables for data and not layout. When an assistive technology user encounters a table that doesn't have data in it but has content in it, it can be a little confusing. What's the purpose of this? It may not be abundantly clear that that table's being used for layout.
The purpose of data tables is to present tabular information in a grid or matrix and to have columns or rows that show the meaning of the information in that grid or matrix. Sited users can visually scan and make associations between the data in the table and the appropriate row and column header, but someone that can't see the table can not make these visual associations. The proper markup must be used to associate elements in the table to tell the assistive technology or to announce to the assistive technology. "This is the information that is in this column. This is the information that is in this row. You are located in the third cell of the second row of the table." When the proper markup is in place, assistive technology users can navigate through the table one cell at a time, and screen reader users will hear the column and row headers spoken aloud.
You can add table headers and associate them with table data using a variety of authoring tools, document or presentation software, or when adding tables to the learning management system. Here I have an example from the Blackboard Learning Management System on the left side of the screen. It shows the table cell properties where a user can indicate whether a cell is a data cell or a header cell. On the right side of the slide is the Microsoft Office, specifically Microsoft Word, Table Tools Header Row checkbox. Positioning the cursor, clicking into the first row of a table, and then checking the box that says header row tells assistive technology this table has a header and this is the row that is that header. Important steps to take, again, if you want to make sure that all of the data in your tables is available to the widest variety of users, the widest audience of users.
I'm going to be talking more about evaluating accessibility momentarily, but a good check for table accessibility in a document or in an online course space is to attempt to use the tab key to navigate into the table, throughout all of the sales in the table, and out of the table, shift, tab, other keyboard, to make sure that it is in fact accessible.
Using simple tables is also recommended. Screen readers keep track of where you are in a table by sort of counting cells and could lose count with complicated layouts. Support for this is improving, the authoring tools production of accessible tables is improving, but it still can be challenging when tables are long and complex. Merging cells, splitting cells, nesting tables within tables, try to avoid these because they can make table content difficult to navigate and understand. And you should also avoid leaving rows or columns completely blank.
This slide includes an example of a table. The title of the table is Color Names in Multiple Languages. And there are columns for color, Spanish, French, Irish, Welsh, and rows for the various colors, black, white, red, blue. This is an example of a table that is relatively simple yet conveys a lot of information.
Another basic principle of digital accessibility is making sure links make sense out of context by avoiding generic phrases like click here or read more or more information as link text. And this is especially important because of how screen readers work and how screen reader users access and interact with digital content. A screen reader is an application or piece of software that converts digital text to synthesized speech. It essentially reads aloud digital text on websites and documents and online courses. A screen reader is very powerful, and screen reader users can use things like keyboard shortcuts to bring up a list of all of the links that are found on a webpage or all the headings on a webpage, or all the different content areas on a webpage and use the information to navigate more effectively.
But when all the links on a page are labeled more or read more or click here, a screen reader user who has brought up a list of links on the page is going to hear something like, "Read more, read more, read more," or, "Click here, click here, click here." It doesn't distinguish between the different links, their different purposes or their different destinations. When you add a hyperlink to your course content or navigation, you might ask yourself, if you read this text out of context, would you understand what the link is for or what clicking on the link might do? That's a good rule of thumb.
I have some examples here, and I apologize, I lost a little formatting on this line. It's funny, there's icons, visual icons conveying which is a bad example and which is a good one. Let me really sort of be clear about that. The first example, "Sign up for a topic here," this is bad. If the link text is, "Here," a screen reader user would hear that announced as here. What is here? Is this a Google form that lives on the web? Is this a discussion board within the class? I'm not sure what clicking on this link will do. A better link would say, "To claim a presentation topic complete the," and then the actual linked text is, "Topic signup form." Again, someone who hears that link out of context hears, "Topic signup form." They know this is the form I use to sign up for my topic.
The next is another sort of before and after, good and bad example. "Spring 2023 newsletter." I'm not sure if that's a webpage, if clicking on it's going to download a Word document. Is it a PDF? Is it on the website I'm on already? Is it on another website? When the link is going to cause something to download or take someone sort of outside of their current context, it's important to indicate that as part of the link. With documents, for example, you might say something like, "Spring 2023 newsletter PDF," making sure that the PDF is part of the actual link text and not just unlinked text that follows it.
And again, that's a vital for accessibility, but just kind of a nice thing to do. Again, maybe I get frustrated too easily, but I can't stand it when I click on something thinking I'm going to a webpage and it opens up a PowerPoint, or worse, something that makes Photoshop open up. I appreciate it when people tell me what is going to happen when I click on a link. And users with disabilities appreciate that too.
We've already touched on some principles that address file accessibility, but I'd like to share a quick tip or two for two specific types of files. And that's Microsoft Office content and PDFs. Like the Microsoft Office spelling checker tells you about possible spelling errors, the accessibility checker in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook on the web tells you about possible accessibility issues in your Office file.
The tool generates a report of issues that could make your content difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to understand. It explains why you should fix the issues and then provides a step-by-step process for fixing them. I recommend using that checker to evaluate and repair your files before sharing them, whatever sharing them means. Putting them up on the school website, Schoology, LMS, emailing them, however, you are going to distribute the files, I suggest as a last step, the accessibility checker.
You can have the accessibility checker running while you're working. Others prefer to use it that way. As you're typing, as you're adding content, to receive those alerts indicating whether or not that content might be problematic. But regardless, it's a really powerful tool that you can use to enhance the accessibility of all of your Office content. If you're looking for one thing to start doing following this session, if you're not already doing this, that's a good, good place to start.
In newer versions of Office, including Office 365, you can access this accessibility checker via the review tab. In other versions of Office, you may need to access it via the file info menu, but either way, the accessibility checker does a great job of clueing you in to potential accessibility issues. It won't eliminate every single issue, but it's a great start.
That's one specific type of content we use a lot in an educational context, Microsoft Office. Another is PDFs. Moving on to PDFs, although there is a bit more to it than this, when people talk about, quote, "Accessible PDF files," they're usually referring to PDF files that have searchable selectable text and tags. There's a little bit more to it than that, but the basics are actual text and tags.
Tags are the basis of an accessible PDF file. They indicate the structure of the document, communicate the order in which items should be read. They help determine exactly which items will be read. The image on the left side of this slide shows a PDF document open in Adobe Acrobat Pro. The tags panel is open showing text tagged with the H1, H2, and paragraph tags. In this case, the author of a Word document created the document with accessibility in mind, used the styles options to apply headings, heading one for the top level heading, "Cooking techniques," and heading two for the subheadings, "Cooking with oil," and so on. Because they created their document with accessibility in mind and generated the PDF in such a way that that important accessibility information was maintained, once it made it to a PDF, we opened it up in Acrobat, the tags are present. And again, tell us what the document contains, what should be read, the order it should be read, and other important information.
On the right side of the slide is an image of skewed text. This is the type of skewed text that often indicates a PDF has been created from scanning. When I was in a higher ed environment, I saw so much of this from folks who had maybe received an article from an advisor or a trusted professor that was fundamental. They'd been toting around a paper copy for a while, might have been really dogeared, had some notes on it, eventually, it gets scanned, it gets put in the learning management system. It's reused for years and years and years. We can do a little better now. A lot of the articles that some of us had to read and print, go to the library and read it on reserve, are now available electronically. And a lot of times we can get an electronic copy or a link to an electronic copy that's more accessible. But when we have to put a PDF in a alerting management system or share it with students, there are steps we can take to make sure it is accessible.
But just another thing, sort of what's a quick, easy thing I can do. If you assign PDFs, if you distribute PDFs, you could open up your PDFs on your computer and attempt to select text within that PDF or search for text within that PDF. And if you can't, it's likely that it's an image of text and not actual text. Finding another version of it that's actual text, performing optical character recognition, lots of different things can be done to improve the experience of students with reading so they don't have to read scanned PDF.
As I mentioned, there's more to an accessible PDF than just text though. An accessible PDF has tags. When exporting your document or presentation as a PDF, check your export settings to make sure the PDF will be tagged. For me, I have Adobe Acrobat Pro and that means using the Adobe PDF Maker add-in in Word. For others, that might mean checking your settings in Word to make sure that you're using the format you want to be using. The approach varies kind of depending on what computer you have and what version of the software, but it's likely possible that you have the power to generate PDFs with accessible text.
After exporting the file, another step that you can take if you have access to this tool or ones like it is using the Adobe Acrobat Pro Accessibility Checker to identify and fix any accessibility issues. The Accessibility Checker is one of two tools Adobe Acrobat Pro offers that can assist content authors in creating accessible PDFs. The other is the Make Accessible action, which walks you through the steps required to make a PDF accessible. Things like adding a title, converting scanned text to actual text, and so on.
All right. Jay, I see your note. Thanks. Captions and transcripts. Another important principle of accessible content creation in an educational environment. In order to ensure your audio and video content is accessible, you must provide captions, transcripts, and when necessary, audio descriptions. Captions are text that appear on a video and match its soundtrack, including dialogue and nonverbal sounds like thunder or a dog barking. The screenshot on the left side of this slide shows a captioned video playing in the YouTube player. Here, captions appear in white texts on a black background in the lower third of the video above the player controls. On the right side of this slide is a transcript, which is a written record of a video or audio recording. Captions can be built from a transcript by breaking the text up into small segments called caption frames and synchronizing them with the media so that each caption frame can be displayed at the right time. And I think Jay might have a resource to help us with that at the end of our time together.
Providing audio description is another important principle. Audio descriptions narrate the visual parts of a video and are played in between the videos dialogue and other essential sounds. This slide includes two still shots of the YouTube video player. In the first, two hands are holding a tablet computer and the associated audio description is, "A man is using a tablet by voice." In the second, a hand is typing on a laptop keyboard, and the associated audio description is, "A person with their arm and a sling is typing on a keyboard."
If video is produced with accessibility in mind, then supplemental audio descriptions may not be necessary as long as visual elements are described in the audio. For example, you don't need audio description for, let's say, a recording of this webinar, provided that the presenter describes everything. I've been describing what's on my slides. We would not need to add an additional audio description track, but if I didn't do that, audio description would be necessary for full access.
We're coming close to the end of our time together. I want to quickly go through some course content accessibility eval options and then stop with about 10 minutes to spare so we can talk about our upcoming learning opportunity, which ties in with this one. Lots of strategies you can use to evaluate the accessibility of your course content. Learning management systems do have tools built into them. The one you use may offer this. Anthology Ally is one. This is something that can be used in Canvas, Blackboard, Open LMS, Moodle, D2L, and Brightspace. It's something that your institution would purchase and license.
It indicates the accessibility of course content through visual icons and indicators. An instructor who uploads a PowerPoint with poor accessibility would see a red gauge that says, "Accessibility score low." They can then access guidance, step-by-step guidance, on how to address the accessibility issues. It also provides alternative format downloads for students. Again, as an instructor, you can upload your Word document, but a student can choose whether to receive that content as a PDF, an audio file, braille, electronic braille, lots of options available. Pricey, but kind of the premier tool in the space. Anthology Ally.
The Rich Content Editors in learning management systems often have accessibility checkers. Look for the universal access icon or search for information about that in the documentation for your learning management system. The examples on the slide are from Blackboard and Canvas.
I already mentioned Microsoft Accessibility Checker. That's a powerful tool for documents that go in the course. Adobe Acrobat, powerful tool for PDFs that go in the course. I mentioned the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker that you can use to test color combinations for sufficient contrast. A similar tool is Color Contrast Analyzer, which is provided by TPGi. It's free, you install it on your computer and you can use an eyedropper tool to test combinations of colors on the web, but also on content stored locally.
For web content, you can use WAVE, AG, the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool to automatically evaluate the content for accessibility. A few caveats there. If your content lives within the frame or shell of a learning management system or other sort of system website that you don't have control over, you may uncover accessibility issues that you can't do anything about, which can be frustrating. Also, with any automated tool, just because we get a result that says something passes, that does not mean it's accessible. The only way to truly know if content is accessible is to have users with disabilities with their assistive technology access and use it.
All right. There's also manual checks that you can do. I'll make sure that this information gets included in the space where resources are provided as well as information and a word of warning about screen reader testing.
We have 10 minutes until 5:00. I'm going to stop sharing now and go ahead and respond to your questions. Jay, what do we have?
>> Jay: Oh, right. It looks like we have a question. It says, "Is it correct to use text boxes in PowerPoint because they do not appear in assistive technology?"
>> Melissa: Okay.
>> Jay: Oh, I'm sorry. "Is it correct not to use text boxes in PowerPoint because they do not appear in assistive technology?"
>> Melissa: I think this is referring to instead of using one of the built-in placeholders in PowerPoint, creating a blank slide and going to insert text box, and then adding text. Yes, yes. That's a way that many folks use PowerPoint. At one point, this was an absolute no-no. It's my understanding this has improved a bit. I don't want to call out my colleague who uses a screen reader who's here, but feel free if I'm saying something wrong to correct me. I feel like this has improved, but the big thing is using the accessibility checker or using the selection pane to check the reading order of content that you add using those text boxes. If you stay within the placeholders, those are kind of already designed to be read and to be read in the correct order. If you add the additional content, it's important that you make sure that it is reflected in the reading order. Don't think it's 100% no-no, but be careful.
>> Jay: Well, the other thing to mention on that is if you are creating those PowerPoint slides from a blank slide, you also will need to make sure one of those text boxes is indicated as the title box. Because otherwise, then when you do those review checks, it's going to say there's no title attached to this slide. And you always want to make sure you have a title per slide, even if you don't have that title visible. Some people like to just have a big image as part of their presentation and talk about the image and not necessarily have a title visible on that slide. You still want to have a title attached to it. That way, again, it's easier for a screen reader user to know that that's what that slide is about, but it's also just better for navigation.
We have another question. Is there an accessible PDF program other than Word that you would recommend to make visually appealing flyers that are also accessible? We ran into a barrier using Canva that isn't accessible. Do you have any input on that? I'm going to see if I can find something. I saw an article on Canva and PDF, but let me see if I can find it.
>> Melissa: Yeah, I'm wondering about the Adobe Express tools, although I'm not sure about pricing around them. I am not sure. I would rather not answer than answer incorrectly, but I think this is something we could research and provide some information on. Is there something similar to Canva that has better accessibility?
>> Jay: Yeah, because I know I ran into a couple articles where somebody was showing if you're creating something in Canva, how to do those tags. I have not had a chance to vet it and go through it, so I don't necessarily want to say, "Check this one out."
>> Melissa: Yeah. I just don't have enough experience with it to speak knowledgeably to it.
Yeah. I see the question about certification in the chat. I don't know if that went to everyone or me directly. Oh, okay, everyone. Do I have recommendations to earn certifications of accessibility? Certifications of accessibility are kind of a hot topic, at least when they first started getting popular. Not everyone who works in the accessibility community or members of the accessibility community feel that they're necessary. However, they have become very popular, and I have some and working on some.
I recommend if you want to earn a certification related to accessibility, starting with an IAAP certification, the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. CPACC, Certified Professional, and Accessibility Core Competencies is kind of their foundational accessibility credential and is appearing in most job advertisements for accessibility professionals these days. They also offer an accessible document specialist certification, web accessibility and other certifications.
The Department of Homeland Security has the Trusted Tester program, which you can take courses in and pass an exam to become someone who can evaluate content to see if it meets federal accessibility guidelines specified in section 508 of the Rehab Act. Those are the ones that I see the most, IAAP and Trusted Tester.
>> Jay: Yeah. And thank you, Brent, for that clarification too on the outline view.
>> Melissa: Oh, I see that. Thanks.
>> Jay: All right. These are good questions. Keep them coming. We're going to just go to our next couple of slides, but like I said, once we see a question, I'm going to stop talking and answer your question, but we'll go on to our next set of slides here just to wrap things up for the afternoon.
Just a reminder, last summer we did our K-12 Access Summit. This was a wonderful virtual conference that we did. We have over 12 hours of content that is available for free in the Knowbility Learning Center. You just need to send us a request so you can get access to that content. It is a Bitly link, so it is B-I-T.L-Y/K12AccessSummitInterest. And that'll just be a capital K, capital A, capital S, and capital I.
And then also we have some additional programs and events coming up in the next couple of months. Our first one, of course, is AccessU, which I've already mentioned. Tickets are on sale right now. This is our hybrid conference. Again, join us in Austin or virtually around the world on accessible tech and design. This is our big annual conference where we get to hang out with our peers and our mentors, our experts of accessibility, talk, shop, nerd out, and just learn and grow together. We hope to see you all there.
And then also we have our Be a Digital Ally, which I mentioned at the beginning. We have our next one coming up on February 16th. And this time around, we are going to be continuing our look at the WCAG, the website guidelines, looking at the changes for 2.2. I don't remember the exact guidelines we were going over off the top of my head, but if you go to that website, you can see which ones we're covering for that month.
And then lastly, our feedback. Please, please, if you have a moment, just give us some feedback. Let us know what you thought about today's session. If there are other topics that you want us to dive a little deeper into in terms of K-12, I know we got a great email earlier talking about authoring tools and how to find the good ones that are more accessible. And really starting to have those conversations with people about finding good authoring tools that are accessible for not only staff, but students, because a lot of those programs are expecting students to create content if it's not accessible. What are we doing? Please go ahead and fill out that survey for us. It is B-I-T.L-Y/JanToolkit2023, and that'll be a capital J and a capital T.
And that is it. We hope to see you next time, at the end of February. We'll actually be talking about captions and transcripts and how you can use YouTube for those. A lot of people know that YouTube does those auto-generated captions, but what some people don't know is that you can go in and edit those so they're nice and clean and accurate and useful, and how to do the different language settings. And there's all kinds of tips and tricks we want to show you when you're creating YouTube videos. Thank you, everyone, and we will see you next month.