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celebrate GAAD heading with disability icons

Thursday, May 20th, 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.

Video Notes is a built-in media recording tool in Brightspace that allows instructors and learners to record short videos with a webcam. This makes it easy to personalize the learning experience with short, video-based feedback, comments, or instructions. Video Notes can be added where video attachments are supported and when the HTML Editor’s Insert Stuff option is available.

People who are deaf or hard of hearing rely on captions and subtitles to understand video content. But there are a lot of other great reasons for using captions. For example, you may have some learners who choose not to use the sound or they cannot use it without disturbing those around them. You may have some learners who are not native in your language or who have trouble understanding you. Closed captions and subtitles will allow these individuals to receive your message and understand it.

Did you know you can generate automatic closed captions for newly created Video Notes AND you have the ability to manually add or edit closed captions for all previously recorded Video Notes?

Follow these steps to do it.

To generate automatic captions:

  1. Select Add Video Note from the Insert Stuff option in the HTML Editor.
  2. Click on New Recording, click Stop Recording when done recording.
  3. Click on Next
  4. Enter a title and description for the Video Note.
  5. Choose the audio language.
  6. Check the "Automatically generate captions from audio" box.
  7. Click Next and follow the prompts.
  8. After video processing, you can view the closed captions using video player controls.
example of automatically generate captions from audio checkbox
Video Notes - automatically generate captions from audio

Note: As with any automatically generated captions, you should verify the accuracy of the automatically generated captions.

To edit/update Video Note captions:

  1. Select Video Note Captions from the Admin Tools. Admin Tools are accessed from the cog icon in the top right corner of the page.
  2. Locate the Video Note you would like to review the captions for.
  3. Select the Video Note from the list.
  4. Edit the captions in the Captions Editor.
  5. Click on Save Captions.
Video Notes captions option shown on Admin Tools menu
Video Notes captions
Example of Video Notes captions editor
Video Notes - update automatic captions

To add Video Note captions:

  1. Select Video Note Captions from the Admin Tools. Admin Tools are accessed from the cog icon in the top right corner of the page.
  2. Locate the Video Note you would like to add captions to.
  3. Select the Video Note from the list.
  4. For automatic captions, select the audio language and then click Generate OR to upload a caption file, click Choose File, locate the captions file, click Upload.
  5. After video processing, you can view the closed captions using video player controls.
Example of adding captions to Video Notes
Video Notes - add captions

Reminder: As with any automatically generated captions, you should verify the accuracy of the automatically generated captions.

Want more information?

Brightspace Tip #231: Video Notes
Create Video Notes
Create and insert a Video Note in HTML Editor
Reuse Video Notes
Understanding the HTML Editor
Add closed captions to a Video Note
Edit Video Notes closed captions

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
Continuous Delivery release notes
Brightspace Known Issues
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.

Image credit: "celebrate GAAD" by jflorent is dedicated to the public domain under CC0 and is adaption of "disability symbols" by National Park Service in the public domain

celebrate GAAD heading with disability icons

Thursday, May 20th, 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
Improve Your Course with 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.

Image credit: "celebrate GAAD" by jflorent is dedicated to the public domain under CC0 and is adaption of "disability symbols" by National Park Service in the public domain

GAAD logo

Thursday, May 20th, 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.

Image credit: "Global Accessibility Awareness Day logo" by Mindymorgan licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

celebrate GAAD heading with disability icons

Thursday, May 21st, 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.

Video Notes is a built-in media recording tool in Brightspace that allows instructors and learners to record short videos with a webcam. This makes it easy to personalize the learning experience with short, video-based feedback, comments, or instructions. Video Notes can be added where video attachments are supported and when the HTML Editor’s Insert Stuff option is available.

People who are deaf or hard of hearing rely on captions and subtitles to understand video content. But there are a lot of other great reasons for using captions. For example, you may have some learners who choose not to use the sound or they cannot use it without disturbing those around them. You may have some learners who are not native in your language or who have trouble understanding you. Closed captions and subtitles will allow these individuals to receive your message and understand it.

Did you know you can generate automatic closed captions for newly created Video Notes AND you have the ability to manually add or edit closed captions for all previously recorded Video Notes?

Follow these steps to do it.

To generate automatic captions:

  1. Select Add Video Note from the Insert Stuff option in the HTML Editor.
  2. Click on New Recording, click Stop Recording when done recording.
  3. Click on Next
  4. Enter a title and description for the Video Note.
  5. Choose the audio language.
  6. Check the "Automatically generate captions from audio" box.
  7. Click Next and follow the prompts.
  8. After video processing, you can view the closed captions using video player controls.
example of automatically generate captions from audio checkbox
Video Notes - automatically generate captions from audio

Note: As with any automatically generated captions, you should verify the accuracy of the automatically generated captions.

To edit/update Video Note captions:

  1. Select Video Note Captions from the Admin Tools. Admin Tools are accessed from the cog icon in the top right corner of the page.
  2. Locate the Video Note you would like to review the captions for.
  3. Select the Video Note from the list.
  4. Edit the captions in the Captions Editor.
  5. Click on Save Captions.
Video Notes captions option shown on Admin Tools menu
Video Notes captions
Example of Video Notes captions editor
Video Notes - update automatic captions

To add Video Note captions:

  1. Select Video Note Captions from the Admin Tools. Admin Tools are accessed from the cog icon in the top right corner of the page.
  2. Locate the Video Note you would like to add captions to.
  3. Select the Video Note from the list.
  4. For automatic captions, select the audio language and then click Generate OR to upload a caption file, click Choose File, locate the captions file, click Upload.
  5. After video processing, you can view the closed captions using video player controls.
Example of adding captions to Video Notes
Video Notes - add captions

Reminder: As with any automatically generated captions, you should verify the accuracy of the automatically generated captions.

Want more information?

Brightspace Tip #102: Video Notes
Create Video Notes
Create and insert a Video Note in HTML Editor
Reuse Video Notes
Understanding the HTML Editor
Add closed captions to a Video Note
Edit Video Notes closed captions

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.

Image credit: "celebrate GAAD" by jflorent is dedicated to the public domain under CC0 and is adaption of "disability symbols" by National Park Service in the public domain

celebrate GAAD heading with disability icons

Thursday, May 21st, 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
Improve Your Course with 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.

Image credit: "celebrate GAAD" by jflorent is dedicated to the public domain under CC0 and is adaption of "disability symbols" by National Park Service in the public domain

GAAD logo

Thursday, May 21st, 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.

Image credit: "Global Accessibility Awareness Day logo" by Mindymorgan licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

keyboard with an accessibility key

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:

Image credit: "Accessibility First" by Poakpong is licensed under CC-BY 2.0

Brightspace, our Learning Management System (LMS), was designed with accessibility in mind. However, it is the responsibility of the instructor and/or course designer to ensure their course content is formatted using best practices for accessibility; including the use of good heading structure, text formatting, contrast and color, descriptive links, alternative text, tables, lists, etc.

I am writing a series of accessibility related blog posts that will provide suggestions on how you can make small changes when creating course content to make it accessible. This is the seventh tip in my series of accessibility related blog posts and it focuses on tables.

A table is a means of arranging information into rows and columns. Tables are very useful for displaying data in an organized manner. Your course schedule and office hours are examples where formatting this information in a table could make the it more accessible.

Tables should be avoided when you want to simply format other content (i.e., just to line things up neatly.) Using tables just for layout purposes is not the best practice for accessibility and may make it nearly impossible for people who use assistive technologies to access the information. If you do choose to use a table to layout text on the page, make sure you lay it out so it will make sense when read from left to right. Text-to-speech software by default will read the information in a table left to right, cell by cell, and row by row.

This video shows how a screen reader reads information in tables. There is an example of a good and a bad table layout. The video demonstrates how reading order AND the information in the columns are important considerations when creating accessible tables.

In the bad example in the video, the use of the dash and abbreviations for the months can be confusing when read by a screen reader. The abbreviated months would have been less confusing if the year had been included. The use of 1,2,3 in the "Week" column in the bad example can be confusing as well. A better option is to use Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 in the respective column.

When creating tables, read your table left to right, top to bottom (never repeating a cell). Does it make sense? Keep in mind that a screen reader will read tables in this way. If it doesn't make sense, you should reorganize the table so that it makes sense when read left to right, top to bottom without repeating a cell.

Consider these examples of accessible tables:

example of accessible tables

The tables, in the examples above, make sense when read left to right, top to bottom, without repeating a cell.

Follow these tips when creating tables to make them accessible:

  • Do not use tabs or spaces to create tables. It may look like a table; however it will not be recognized as a table and can be confusing when read by assistive technologies.
  • Add Row and Column Headers to tables to distinguish the heading text from the data area of the table. Screen readers read simple tables efficiently when the column or row headers are clearly defined.
  • Repeat Row Headers if the table spans more than one page. Tables that are contained on multiple pages should have the header row repeated on each page.
  • When you use tables for the presentation of data, summarize the table to aid reader comprehension. This helps all students to know the high points of a table.
  • Break up complex tables (nested tables and merged or split cells inside of tables) into a series of simple tables. Simple tables are more usable for everyone.
  • The information in each cell should make sense if read without the column heading. For example, instead of entering 1, 2, 3, in a "Chapter" column you should enter Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, in the cells to make it clearer when read by a screen reader.

When applying structure to documents and web content, you should use the appropriate built-in formatting structure tools to do so. Doing so will make content accessible to everyone, including users of assistive technology.

Creating tables in MS Word 2013:

  1. On the Insert tab choose Insert Table and select the appropriate number of rows and columns for your table.
  2. Select the header row in the table and press the right mouse button. A Table Properties window will open.
  3. Select the Row tab and check the box next to Repeat as header row at the top of each page. Press Enter key or Ok button. This header row will be repeated at top of each page.

insert table in MS Word

Creating tables in PowerPoint 2013:

  1. Use the Insert Table function in the Slide layout select the appropriate number of rows and columns for your table.

insert table from placeholder in PowerPoint

You can also insert a table

  1. From the Insert tab, click the Table command.
  2. A drop-down menu containing a grid of squares will appear. Hover the mouse over the grid to select the number of columns and rows in the table.

insert table in PowerPoint

Working with tables in the Brightspace HTML Editor:

To create a table in the HTML Editor:

  1. Click the insert/edit table function and select the appropriate number of rows and columns for your table to begin adding a table in the text area.
HTML Editor - table formatting options
HTML Editor - Table formatting options

To create column headers:

  1. Put your cursor in one of the cells you want to mark up as a table header.
  2. Then click on the drop-down menu next to the Table icon in the toolbar.
  3. Choose Cell Properties. The Cell properties window will pop-up.
  4. In the Cell type field, click on the drop-down list and select Column Header.
  5. Click Update. You will know you have successfully changed the row to table headers because the look of the table cells will change.
  6. Repeat for each cell that is a column header.
create column header in HTML Editor
HTML Editor - Create column header

You will remove significant barriers for users of assistive technology if you take these suggestions into consideration when creating course content. An added bonus is that if you include properly structured tables when creating your course content you will be ahead of the game in the event you do have a student who requires the use of assistive technology. Remember a properly structured table is good design and can benefit everyone.

Additional information about tables can be found here:

Brightspace, our Learning Management System (LMS), was designed with accessibility in mind. However, it is the responsibility of the instructor and/or course designer to ensure their course content is formatted using best practices for accessibility; including the use of good heading structure, text formatting, contrast and color, descriptive links, alternative text, tables, lists, etc.

I am writing a series of accessibility related blog posts that will provide suggestions on how you can make small changes when creating course content to make it accessible. This is the sixth tip in my series of accessibility related blog posts and it focuses on lists.

A list is a set of items that share a purpose and/or have common characteristics. Lists are great from an accessibility standpoint because they provide structured order to content in a linear fashion.

Properly structured lists help to identify order and hierarchy in documents and web content. Lists that are properly formatted allow all users, especially those using assistive technology, to identify and navigate through a related group of items. List items that are not properly formed or grouped may not be translated properly by assistive technology.

bulleted list

Unordered (bulleted) lists should be used when there is no order of sequence or importance. Ordered (numbered) lists suggest a progression or sequence.

Compound lists contain multiple levels of classification. For example, a compound home improvement list would have items organized by category (e.g. electrical, hardware, flooring, plumbing.) With compound lists, relationships are shown visually using indents and different item markers (i.e., bullets, numbers, letters, etc.).

Compound lists may be difficult for visual users to decipher if the visual cues are insufficient. Also, compound lists may be disorienting for nonvisual users. Use a simple list structure whenever possible.

As with headings, lists should be used correctly and for the right purposes. Lists should never be used for merely indenting or other layout purposes.

When lists are formatted using asterisks, hyphens or images to create the look of bullets in a document, users of assistive technology are not able to detect the hierarchical structure and relationship of the list items. You should never rely on indentation to provide a visual list, use the proper structure instead.

Lists should be created using the built-in tools for ordered (numbered) and unordered (bulleted) lists. Without using these tools, a list is not really a list, which makes the content more difficult for assistive technology users to fully understand.

Creating lists in MS Word and PowerPoint 2013:

  1. Select the text that you want to add bullets or numbering to.
  2. On the Home tab, under Paragraph, select the appropriate bullet from the list.

create list in MS Word

Creating lists in Google Docs and Slides:

  1. On your computer, open a document or presentation in Google Docs or Slides
  2. Click a page or slide where you want to add a list
  3. In the toolbar, choose a list type. If you don't see the option, click More ...
  4. Start typing your text for the list

create list in Google Docs

Creating lists in the Brightspace HTML Editor:

  1. In the HTML Editor, select the text that you want to add bullets or numbering to
  2. Select the unordered list or ordered list button

create list in HTML Editor

You will remove significant barriers for users of assistive technology if you take these suggestions into consideration when creating course content. An added bonus is that if you include properly structured lists when creating your course content you will be ahead of the game in the event you do have a student who requires the use of assistive technology.

Additional information about lists can be found here:
Learn how to create lists in Word 2013
Learn how to create lists in Word 2016
Learn how to create lists in PowerPoint 2013
Learn how to create lists in PowerPoint 2016

1

Brightspace, our Learning Management System (LMS), was designed with accessibility in mind. However, it is the responsibility of the instructor and/or course designer to ensure their course content is formatted using best practices for accessibility; including the use of good heading structure, text formatting, contrast and color, descriptive links, alternative text, tables, lists, etc.

I am writing a series of accessibility related blog posts that will provide suggestions on how you can make small changes when creating course content to make it accessible. This is the fifth tip in my series of accessibility related blog posts and it focuses on when alt text (alternative text) is not enough.

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.

example of a infographic

Example of an infographic

example of a infographic

Example of an infographic

Alt text should describe the important contents of an image that a user who cannot see an image would need to know, such as text, numbers, and other data. Describing colors, location of objects, and other visuals is only needed when necessary to understanding the image.

complex images, graphs, and charts require more detailed description than the limited one or two brief sentences that are used in the alt text

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.

example of a complex data visualization

Example of a complex data visualization

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.

Image Credits:
"False Food Myths Infographic 2012" by USDAgov is licensed under CC BY 2.0
"Apple v Android infographic" by by Andrew Rees is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0
"Complex example of data visualization" by Aigner and Yi is licensed under CC BY