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keyboard with accessibility key highlighted

This year marks the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law was enacted to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

It is extremely important for students with disabilities to have access to accessible course content. Statistics show that 12.9% of students have a disability. One in 25 incoming freshmen have some form of cognitive disability. These students have neurological challenges processing information. *

Forty to 60% of undergrads and 9% of graduate students choose not to report their disability and will just struggle through their courses.*

Chances are you will have a student enrolled in one of your courses that has a disability and has chosen not to disclose that information to you.

Accessibility image

Accessibility best practices are built into the Brightspace Learning Management System (LMS) design and development processes. While Brightspace is accessible to persons with disabilities, uploaded content may not be.

While Brightspace is accessible to persons with disabilities, uploaded content may not be. Instructors should make a conscious effort to make sure content is accessible.

Instructors should make a conscious effort to make sure content is accessible. Even though you may not have a student with a disability currently enrolled in your course, there are a few things you can do when creating content that will save you time later when you do have a student with a disability. This is not wasted time as you will find some students without disabilities will take advantage of accessible content as well. Additionally, if you usually copy content from one course to another you will be one step ahead because your copied course content will already be accessible.

Also for cognitive disabilities it’s important to build flexibility into your courses. This is done by using many modes of information and creating a clutter-free learning environment.

In an upcoming series of blog posts I will provide information on things you can routinely do when you create content and setup your Brightspace courses to make them accessible.

*Source: Accessibility in Education in North America Infographic

celebrate GAAD

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD aims to get you talking, thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different abilities and talents.

Accessibility is about everyone. It is extremely important for students with disabilities to have access to accessible course content.

The Brightspace HTML Editor has a built-in accessibility checker that makes it easy to check for issues or offer suggestions to fix identified accessibility issues.

Follow these steps to do it.

To check for accessibility issues:

  1. After you add content to the HTML Editor, click the accessibility checker icon.
  2. HTML Editor accessibility checker icon

  3. The checker indicates if the content is free of accessibility issues, or offers suggestions to fix them.
  4. accessibility issues detected

Want more information?

Brightspace Accessibility Checker
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery release notes
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

GAAD written in the clouds

Thursday, May 16th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start. Awareness comes first.

The key to embracing accessibility – whether online, in the classroom, or on campus is realizing that taking the time to address an issue doesn’t just help a handful of individuals; in the end, everyone benefits.

Participants in global accessibility awareness day are encouraged to attempt to go an hour without using a technology most people take for granted – such as not using a computer mouse, attempting to navigate a website using a screen reader, or enlarging all of the fonts in a web browser to 200 percent, to see how functionality may be lost when accessibility isn’t taken into consideration in the design.

Whether you participate in an organized activity with others or not, join in and take an hour out of your day to experience digital accessibility first-hand.

celebrate GAAD

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD aims to get you talking, thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different abilities and talents.

Accessibility is about everyone. It is extremely important for students with disabilities to have access to accessible course content.

The Brightspace HTML Editor has a built-in accessibility checker that makes it easy to check for issues or offer suggestions to fix identified accessibility issues.

Follow these steps to do it.

To check for accessibility issues:

  1. After you add content to the HTML Editor, click the accessibility checker icon.
  2. HTML Editor accessibility checker icon

  3. The checker indicates if the content is free of accessibility issues, or offers suggestions to fix them.
  4. accessibility issues detected

Want more information?

Brightspace Accessibility Checker
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery Updates
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

GAAD written in the clouds

Thursday, May 17th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start. Awareness comes first.

The key to embracing accessibility – whether online, in the classroom, or on campus is realizing that taking the time to address an issue doesn’t just help a handful of individuals; in the end, everyone benefits.

Participants in global accessibility awareness day are encouraged to attempt to go an hour without using a technology most people take for granted – such as not using a computer mouse, attempting to navigate a website using a screen reader, or enlarging all of the fonts in a web browser to 200 percent, to see how functionality may be lost when accessibility isn’t taken into consideration in the design.

Whether you participate in an organized activity with others or not, join in and take an hour out of your day to experience digital accessibility first-hand.

by Karen Nichols

Just a quick note about Global Accessibility Awareness Day.  CAT + has posted often on the topic of accessibility and the importance of design features in our courses that benefit ALL learners.  But I think this organization has really good intentions--"The purpose of GAAD is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities" so I thought I would share the web address with you.

In 2011 blogger John Devon posted on accessibility issues, especially in technology, and his blog sparked enough interest to create GAAD.

Take a look at their site, join in some of the activities and like them on Facebook if you appreciate their efforts.  Thank you, merci, gracias (their site is not only accessible, but is multi-lingual!).

various accessibility icons

The Quick Links tool allows users to quickly locate any heading or section within any page in Blackboard and jump directly to the link.

Blackboard Quick Links pop-up window

Quick Links work by pulling all headers and important web page landmarks into an easily accessible screen. This accessibility feature improves Blackboard's navigation experience for all users, but especially sighted keyboard only users.

Follow these steps to do it.

To access Quick Links:

  1. Click on the Quick Links icon located on the top left near the Home tab (or press the SHIFT + ALT + L keys on the keyboard).
  2. A pop-up window that displays the landmark and navigation links on the page will open. Any available keyboard shortcuts for the page are also displayed.
  3. Press the TAB key to move between the links.
  4. Press the Enter key to go to the highlighted link.

Want more information?

About Quick Links
Quick Links video [01:24]
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Check out help for instructors at help.blackboard.com.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

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by Janice Florent

the word inaccessible type written on a page with the first two letters crossed out to indicate the word should be accessible

One of the reasons hybrid and online courses appeal to students is when a course is well designed the student has the opportunity to playback or review a concept until they have mastered it.

In order for course materials to be accessible for all learners the course material should be provided in multiple formats. Having the material in multiple modes allows the student to choose the mode that works best for them.

If your course material is visual provide an audio version as well. If your course material is auditory, make it visual too. Incorporating transcripts, subtitles, closed captioning to audio and visual content in a course is invaluable for students with disabilities, diverse and/or preferred learning styles, and English as a second language (ESL) students.

Designing your courses with accessibility in mind will save you some time in the event you do have a student with a disability. Remember accessible content is not only for the impaired. Students without disabilities will find having accessible resources within your course a bonus.

Here are a few simple steps, from my previous blog posts, that you can take when creating content and setting up your course that will make it more accessible:

As we start a new year and a new semester it is a good time to start to make your courses accessible. Here is a link to a 10-Step Guide to Making Your Course Accessible for All Students.

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by Janice Florent

Computers can read text on a screen but images, graphs, and charts are meaningless to visually impaired users. Alternative text (alt text) is an alternate method for supplying information about images, graphs, and charts to users who are visually impaired.

Adding alt text to images, graphs, and charts is an important part of making them accessible. Most images, graphs, and charts can be made accessible using alt text descriptions. However, complex images, graphs, and charts require more detailed description than the limited one or two brief sentences that are used in the alt text.

complex scientific images

Examples of complex scientific images

What should you do when you have a complex image, graph, or chart whose meaning cannot be conveyed with alt text alone? There are several ways to handle complex images where a short description is not possible. The best solution is to include a thorough description of the complex image in the content of the page, immediately before or after the image. If you don’t want to add more content to your page, another preferred alternative is to create another web page with the thorough description of the complex image and link to it near the image.

You may be wondering what exactly should you include in the thorough description. The Diagram Center (Digital Image And Graphic Resources for Accessible Materials) is an excellent resource that provides comprehensive guidelines to make it easier for you to make complex images accessible to all learners.

Here are a few additional resources to help you with describing complex images:

It is extremely important for students with disabilities to have access to accessible course content. Describing complex images utilizing these tips is good course design. Even though you may not have a student with a disability currently enrolled in your course, you will find students without disabilities will take advantage of accessible content as well.

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by Janice Florent

mobile phone with the caption accessibility is not only for the impaired

Although there are legal mandates requiring institutions of higher education to make educational materials accessible (e.g., the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act), accessibility is fundamentally just good design. Content that is accessible is better organized and therefore more usable by all. Accessible content renders properly on a wide variety of devices, it is easier to navigate, and it conveys information in a consistent, logical manner. Moreover, changes in how we view the content are occurring. More and more content is being displayed on mobile devices. For content to appear properly on all devices, it must be well designed.

In my recent series of accessibility tips, I identified some things you can do now to design with accessibility in mind as you are creating content and setting up your courses. Designing with accessibility in mind will save you some time in the event you do have a student with a disability. Remember accessible content is not only for the impaired.

Just in case you missed my accessibility series of blog posts, I provided links to them here: