Understanding the Overlap Between UDL and Digital Accessibility — from boia.org

Excerpt:

Implementing UDL with a Focus on Accessibility
UDL is a proven methodology that benefits all students, but when instructors embrace universal design, they need to consider how their decisions will affect students with disabilities.

Some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Instructional materials should not require a certain type of sensory perception.
  • A presentation that includes images should have accurate alternative text (also called alt text) for those images.
  • Transcripts and captions should be provided for all audio content.
  • Color alone should not be used to convey information, since some students may not perceive color (or have different cultural understandings of colors).
  • Student presentations should also follow accessibility guidelines. This increases the student’s workload, but it’s an excellent opportunity to teach the importance of accessibility.
 

Your iPhone Has 26 New Accessibility Tools You Shouldn’t Ignore — from ios.gadgethacks.com by Jovana Naumovski

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Magnifier has a new Door Detection option on iOS 16, which helps blind and low-vision users locate entryways when they arrive at their destination. The tool can tell you how far away the door is, if the door is open or closed, how to open it (push it, turn the knob, pull the handle, etc.), what any signs say (like room numbers), what any symbols mean (like people icons for restrooms), and more.

From DSC:
By the way, this kind of feature would be great to work in tandem with devices such as the Double Robotics Telepresence Robot — i.e., using Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications to let the robot and automatic doors communicate with each other so that remote students can “get around on campus.”

 

It would be great to have M2M communications with mobile robots to get through doors and to open elevator doors as well

 


Along the lines of accessibility-related items, also relevant/see:

Microsoft introduces sign language for Teams — from inavateonthenet.net

Excerpt:

Microsoft has announced a sign language view for Teams to help signers and others who use sign language. The information on screen will be prioritised on centre stage, in a consistent location, throughout every meeting.

When sign language view is enabled, the prioritised video streams automatically appear at the right aspect ratio and at the highest available quality. Like pinning and captioning, sign language view is personal to each user and will not impact what others see in the meeting.


 

 

Our mission is to empower people with disabilities to live their best life! We do this by showcasing adaptive products.

The product categories out at allaccesslife.org

 


Addendum on 11/14/22:

clusiv.io — as mentioned at The Accelerator at WGU Labs Invests in Platform for the Blind or Visually Impaired

Clusiv is an online learning platform for the blind and visually impaired that teaches occupational training, technology skills, and educational courses to empower employment. We help remove barriers to successful employment by teaching the skills you need to be equipped for the modern workforce.


 

How to survive as the only remote person in the hybrid room — from protocol.com by Tim Stevens
Experts weigh in on how remote tech workers can be seen and heard when everyone in a meeting is in the office.

Excerpt:

The hybrid approach to remote work can meet the needs of diverse teams of people, but too often those who sign in from afar can feel left out, absent from impromptu hallway discussions or outright ignored on Zoom calls.

When you’re on the outside it’s tempting to just stay quiet and hope things will improve, but if your team isn’t aware of your struggles, things will only get worse. I spoke with three experts in remote work and here are their pro tips on how to survive and even thrive.

Addendum on 11/14/22:

84% of meetings have at least one remote participant — from inavateonthenet.net

Excerpt:

A report commissioned by Crestron has found that 84% of employees regularly have at least one remote participant in their meetings.

The report, titled Tackling the Modern Workplace by the Numbers, explores employee behaviors and preferences in a hybrid workplace, the technology tools they need and lack, and what employers are (and could be) doing to enable more consistently productive collaboration remotely and in-office.

“The findings of this report reveal that for the first time in years, we have a reliable sense of what to expect from the enterprise workplace in terms of where work is done and how meetings have to be held,” said Brad Hintze, exec VP, global marketing, Crestron. “If every meeting isn’t equipped to be hybrid, the data unequivocally shows teams will experience challenges in staying connected to each other, to leadership, and to the company culture, no matter where they’re working.”

 

In one giant classroom, four teachers manage 135 kids – and love it — from hechingerreport.org by Neal Morton
Schools in Mesa, Arizona, piloted a team teaching model to combat declining enrollment and teacher shortages; now the approach is spreading

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Five years ago, faced with high teacher turnover and declining student enrollment, Westwood’s leaders decided to try something different. Working with professors at Arizona State University’s teachers college, they piloted a classroom model known as team teaching. It allows teachers to voluntarily dissolve the walls that separate their classes across physical or grade divides.

Here, more than 130 freshmen at Westwood High School learn in one giant classroom overseen by four teachers. 

Team teaching is taking hold in Mesa, Arizona’s largest school district. Here, more than 130 freshmen at Westwood High School learn in one giant classroom overseen by four teachers. Credit: Matt York/Associated Press

 

By giving teachers more opportunities to collaborate and greater control over how and what they teach, Mesa’s administrators hoped to fill staffing gaps and boost teacher morale and retention. Initial research suggests the gamble could pay off.


Also see:

Educator shortages are a real crisis — especially in special education — from k12dive.com
Administrators are straining under the pressure of finding qualified personnel to meet federal requirements on specialized instruction and related services.

The Council of Administrators of Special Education is keenly aware of the shortage of qualified teachers, specialized instructional support personnel and administrators to fill vacancies in school districts across the country, with shortages particularly acute in special education. We hear daily from administrators citing the impossibility of finding qualified personnel to meet mandates of the federal law requiring specialized instruction and related services for children with disabilities.


 

How can colleges better serve students with autism? — from by Laura Spitalniak
Professor Sarah Howorth says her program at the University of Maine helps bridge the gap between high school and college for students with autism.

Excerpts:

In 2019, Howorth led the pilot for the University of Maine’s Step Up to College, a program meant to model how colleges can effectively support students with autism spectrum disorder.

There are so many myths and misunderstandings out there about what a person with autism is like. Autism is not necessarily associated with cognitive impairment. I have a 16-year-old son who is on the autism spectrum. He is also very intelligent, and he’s definitely college bound. There’s a lot of kids out there like him on the autism spectrum.

Individuals on the spectrum bring a lot to communities, whether that be university campuses, or high schools or businesses. Oftentimes, we focus on the challenges they face, but I think they have many, many more strengths than challenges.

Look at things from a Universal Design for Learning perspective. The things that you offer for students with autism on college campuses, like peer mentors, will help all students.


Also relevant/see:

So what can we do to decrease the exclusion and bullying that leads to trauma? We need to create activities and spaces where autistic people can be their authentic selves and be accepted without having to mask to fit in. We need to eradicate the isolation that is so commonplace by creating supportive communities that are truly safe and inclusive.


 

Why Businesses Struggle with Web Accessibility (And How to Fix It) — from boia.org

Excerpt:

An accessible website means more traffic, better search engine optimization (SEO), reduced exposure to lawsuits, and better brand perception — but despite the benefits, most businesses fail to adopt the principles of accessible design.

In their 2022 report on the state of digital accessibility, WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind) found that 96.8% of the internet’s top 1 million homepages had detectable accessibility errors. That number was actually a slight improvement from previous years: WebAIM’s 2021 analysis found that 97.4% of websites had potential barriers for users with disabilities.

For businesses, those numbers should be a wakeup call. But despite growing awareness of digital accessibility, many organizations struggle to make concrete changes.

Below, we’ll explain the key factors that prevent businesses from taking the right approach — and provide some tips for overcoming those challenges.

 

2022 EDUCAUSE Horizon Action Plan: Hybrid Learning — from library.educause.edu

Excerpts:

Building on the trends, technologies, and practices described in the 2022 Horizon Report: Teaching and Learning Edition, the panel crafted its vision of the future along with practical action items the teaching and learning community can employ to make this future a reality. Any stakeholder in higher education who teaches in or supports hybrid learning modalities will find this report helpful in preparing for the future of hybrid learning. The future we want is within reach, but only if we work together.

Asked to describe the goals and elements of hybrid learning that they would like to see 10 years from now, panelists collaboratively constructed their preferred future for institutions, students, instructors, and staff.

Institutions

  • Higher education is available on demand.
  • Learning is not measured by seat time.
  • Collaboration across institutions facilitates advancement.
  • College and university campuses are not the sole locations for learning spaces.

Students, Instructors, and Staff

  • Everything is hybrid.
  • Student equity is centered in all modalities.
  • Professional development is ongoing, integrated, and valued.
 

4 Tips for Choosing Accessible WordPress Plugins — from boia.org

Excerpt:

WordPress plugins can change how your website operates — typically, that’s why you want to install them in the first place. If you need to add a form or a video player on your WordPress site, you’ll probably look for a plugin before attempting to code your own solution.

But unfortunately, some plugins can alter your content in unpredictable ways and create accessibility barriers. Needless to say, you’ll want to avoid those issues if possible. Fortunately, WordPress is a fairly accessibility-friendly platform — and by following a few simple tips, you can reach a wider audience.

Are Hamburger Menus Bad for Accessibility? — from boia.org

Excerpt:

In web design, a hamburger menu is a button — usually with three horizontal lines — that typically opens a navigation menu.  The icon vaguely resembles a hamburger (or any other sandwich), hence the name.

Like many trends in web design, hamburger menus are controversial: They can cause accessibility issues, depending on their implementation, and they might obscure important navigational information. However, they’re extremely common — and while they pose a few potential issues for users with disabilities, sidebars can be accessible with appropriate markup.


Addendum on 10/18/22:


 

Why text-to-speech tools might have a place in your classroom with Dr. Kirsten Kohlmeyer – Easy TeTech Podcast 183 — from classtechtips.com by Monica Burns

Excerpt:

In this episode, Assistive Technology Director, Dr. Kirsten Kohlmeyer, joins to discuss the power of accessibility and text-to-speech tools in classroom environments. You’ll also hear plenty of digital resources to check out for text-to-speech options, audiobooks, and more!

Assistive tools can provide:

  • Text-to-speech
  • Definitions/vocabularies
  • Ability to level the Lexile level of a reading
  • Capability to declutter a website
  • More chances to read to learn something new
  • and more

Speaking of tools, also see:

 

Disabled Americans Reap Remote-Work Reward in Record Employment — from bloomberg.com by Molly Smith
Adults with disabilities have rarely been employed in such high numbers

Excerpt:

Anardi is part of the second-largest minority group in the US — adults with disabilities. The 42.5 million disabled Americans make up 13% of the civilian population, compared with the nearly 19% that is Hispanic and the almost 12% that’s African American, according to 2021 Census data released on Sept. 15. After suffering some of the worst job losses during the initial phase of the pandemic, people with disabilities are now benefiting from the remote-work trend it triggered. Advocates hope they will continue to reap such rewards, even as companies demand that employees return to the office.

 

4 Ways That Web Developers Can Learn More About Accessibility — from boia.org

Excerpt:

As a web developer, you know the importance of writing clean code — and limiting trouble tickets as much as possible, particularly in the first stages of product development.

An inclusive approach can help you meet those goals. When you consider the needs, preferences, and expectations of users with disabilities, you can serve your content to the broadest possible group of people. Accessible design can also reduce the time you spend on remediations and help you build components that work better for all users (including those who don’t live with disabilities).

By building your knowledge of digital accessibility, you can start enjoying the benefits. Here’s how to get started.

 

Instructional Audio: 4 Benefits to Improving It — from techlearning.com by Erik Ofgang
Ensuring every classroom has instructional audio capabilities helps all students hear what the teacher is saying.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Sound is a key component of education. If students can’t hear their instructor well, they’re clearly not going to focus or learn as much. That’s why more and more schools are investing in instructional audio systems, which are high-tech public address systems designed with classrooms, teachers, and all students in mind.

Terri Meier is director of education technology for Rio Rancho Public Schools in New Mexico where all new classrooms are being built with voice amplification systems in place and many existing classrooms are being retrofitted with similar systems. These systems are key for schools in their accessibility efforts and in providing quality instruction overall, she says.

And speaking of accessibility-related postings/items, also see:

 

ADA Accessibility Lawsuit Tracker: Final Numbers for August 2022 — from info.usablenet.com

Also see:

Download our 2022 Mid-Year Report on Digital Accessibility Lawsuits — from info.usablenet.com
Our Digital Accessibility Report highlights the newest trends in digital accessibility lawsuits.

 

 

Four items regarding accessibility

DOJ Announces Title II Web Accessibility Regulations Are Coming: What’s It Mean? — from boia.org

Excerpt:

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced at the end of July that it plans to amend Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with new website accessibility regulations. The public may catch a glimpse into clarified standards in April 2023 if the DOJ publishes its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) according to the current timetable.

How does this impact entities covered by Title II and website accessibility more broadly? Let’s break it down.

After years of regulatory inaction — or more accurately, retraction from the previous administration — the calls for technical accessibility standards under the ADA may finally be answered for at least a subset of websites.

Why Do I Need Both Transcripts And Captions for Accessibility? — from boia.org

Excerpt:

You’re publishing a video, and you’ve already written a detailed transcript. Do you really need to add closed captions?

In short, yes. The goal of digital accessibility is to provide the best possible experience for as many users as possible — not to accommodate a single group of people with disabilities.

Best practices for structuring and designing accessible e-mails — from blog.usablenet.com

Excerpt:

We’ve heard that crafting the right e-mail means sending the right message to the right person at the right time, but what if the e-mail is inaccessible to the user? We have broken down the best accessibility practices into 2 categories, e-mail structure and e-mail design, to help you create emails that all users will enjoy.

Subheadings and Accessibility: What is a “Visual Heading?”  — from boia.org

Excerpt:

Accurate subheadings make your content much more useful for everyone — but when you’re creating your website, you’ll need to make sure that your headings are both visual and programmatically determinable.

Fortunately, that’s not as complicated as you might think. A visual heading is exactly what it sounds like: A subheading that can be identified through visual presentation alone. Subheadings are programmatically determinable when software (such as web browsers and screen readers) can identify them.

Below, we’ll discuss how to create subheadings that fulfill the requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the international standards for digital accessibility.

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian