Last month, I had the privilege of attending the national conference of the Association of Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD). The three-day conference was a time for staff, faculty, and students who work in disability services and accessibility to meet and share their knowledge, experiences, and stories. I had the opportunity to present on the Distance Learning department’s efforts on web accessibility and share our processes and guidelines with other institutions. I also attended numerous sessions and learned a great deal about accessibility, disability services, and disability culture. Here are five of the many, many takeaways I brought back from
Recently, Instructional Technologist William Guth has written about Web 2.0 Selection Criteria, which help online learning faculty and staff select the best web tools for their course. One of those criteria is making sure that the tool is accessible. But how can you find out? Given the vast variety of tools available, it’s a tough question to answer. But there are a few things you can do to make sure that a web tool has some degree of accessibility for students. What does accessibility mean? In this instance, accessibility means making sure that a tool can be accessed and interacted
In May’s online learning webinar, Content Specialist Christine Scherer shared information on web accessibility in course design, specifically the use of alternative text to make images accessible to all students. Faculty were asked to think of alt-text for a variety of images, both straightforward and complex. A recording of the webinar is available on Blue Jeans. To learn more about accessibility, visit the SPS Distance Learning Accessibility page.
Including alt-text on images is one of the most basic requirements for web accessibility. Alt-text is a brief description of the information conveyed by the image and allows blind and low-vision users to fully engage with all content on a web page. For simple images, writing alt-text is easy. An image of the Chicago skyline, for example, could have alt-text reading “The Chicago downtown skyline, which includes the Willis Tower and Hancock building, at sunrise.” Pretty straightforward, right? But in online education, not all images are so simple. When teaching courses on subjects such as global health, predictive analytics, or medical
Introduction What can be done to improve web accessibility practices? I spoke with Terrill Thompson, the chairperson for the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) Technology Special Interest Group, to find out. In addition to his role with AHEAD, Thompson is a Technology Accessibility Specialist with DO-IT Accessible Technology Services at the University of Washington, leaders in the field of accessible technology and advocates for equity in technology. The theme of the next AHEAD conference is Equity and Excellence: Access in Higher Education. What does that mean to you? Thompson noted that disability is treated differently in higher education