Accessibility of eLearning

getting things started

getting things started

by Jennison Asuncion -
Number of replies: 62

Hello from Toronto and Montreal.

My name is Jennison Asuncion and on behalf of Catherine fichten and our entire Team, I would like to thank you for joining us. Over the next two weeks, our goal is to use our research as a backdrop to have a broader dialogue with all of you about the state of the accessibility of eLearning in your worlds, to gauge your insights and to share and exchange information.

Catherine and I have provided brief biographies of ourselves. You can get to those by clicking on our names in the seminar description. These should give you a sense as to the perspectives that we bring to the conversation.

To better help us get to know you, I invite you to post your own introduction in this discussion thread. Tell us a bit about yourself and your connection and/or interest in the broad topic of eLearning and accessibility for learners with disabilities. Equally important, if you have a specific area of interest you would like to have discussed, please tell us, so that we can address ourselves to it over our time together.

Jennison

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Ivan LeBlanc -
Good Morning from Kitchener.
My name is Ivan LeBlanc and I am a quality assurance analyst with a software company that develops online learning products.  We are currently looking at accessibility issues within our products. 

Ivan
In reply to Ivan LeBlanc

Re: getting things started

by Paula Harrison -

Hi,

I'm Paula Harrison and I'm a Disability Officer in the UK at the same insitution as Brian.  We are involved in providing support to a range of disabled students and I am interested in how assistive technology and onlone learning work together to improve accessibility.

Paula

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by parker owens -

My name is Parker Owens and I am the Web Accessibility Coordinator at Eastern Kentucky University in the US. We use blackboard, and I would be especially interested in any workarounds for some of the problems there.

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Sherri Yerk-Zwickl -

Hi all - I'm Sherri Yerk-Zwickl from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.

I'm the instructional technology team leader here and we are becoming more aware of accessibility & learning disability issues and how to address them in our face to face & online courses.

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Heather Webb -
Hello! I am an instructional designer of online instruction at a community college in the US. Designing online learning that is accessible for all students is essential to the community college mission, which is to serve the educational needs of the entire local community. I would like to broaden my understanding of accessibility issues and particularly explore design practices that may target accessibility for a specific "disability," but will benefit a broader population in ways that we might not initially expect (which I suspect many strategies do).
-Heather
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Denise Weir -

Good morning.

My name is Denise Weir and I am the Director of Distance Learning at Northeastern University in Boston.  I would like to learn about the current availability of assistive technology for e-Learning for both students and instructors.

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by c s -

Hi

I'm Claudius Soodeen, Assistant Manager of the University of Winnipeg Instructional Network (Centre for Distributed/Distance Learning).

My interest in this topic ties into the online and telecourses that we offer, especially since we offer courses in Disability Studies.

Accessibility to our online course environments and to whatever websites are created for courses is important and since I'm directly involved in these endeavors, any knowledge I can gain will be helpful.

c

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Brian Tompsett -
In response to your request for introductions, let me also say "hi".

I'm from the UK and I'm an academic researching and teaching computer science at undergraduate and postgraduate level. In addition to this I also support disabled students on our computer science programmes and am regularly exposed to issues of interaction between advanced assistive technology and advanced learning technology.

Brian
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Simon Ball -
TechDis is a UK organisation funded by the funding bodies for university, college and other post-16 education to uncoverm develop and disseminate good practice in teaching and learning with respect to technologies and disabilities. Hence I am very interested in the topic of 'Accessibility of e-learning' from two perspectives:
1. How e-learning can be used as a force for increased accessibility (i.e. as a tool it broadens the teacher's palette of tools available therefore if employed correctly it should broaden the range of learners who can be taught without the need for separate modifications)
2. How assistive technologies and specific modifications can be made to traditional e-learning (i.e. through VLEs such as BlackBoard, or discussion boards, or WEb2.0 technologies) to enable users with non-traditional needs to participate on an equal footing with their peers.

We have a range of resources relating to this topic that are freely available on our website, but I am particularly interested in finding out about specific instances of practice anywhere in the world that we could learn from in the UK.
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Bonnie Blankert -

Hello from Calgary,

I am a disabilities service provider at Mount Royal College in Calgary. I am interested in hearing other's experiences in providing accessible web-based instruction. I am particularly interested in (in)accessibility issues with Blackboard and Web CT.

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by PAUL M. SZYMANOWSKI -
Good Morning to All,
My name is Paul M. Szymanowski and I am a Manager & Advisor, @ Student Accessibility Services at Dalhousie U and a Disability Resource Facilitator, for the Nova Scotia Department of Ed.
My interest in this topic is in the context of Universal Design - eLearning as a means of providing services to Students with Disabilities and non-disabled students, at the same time.
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Lou Fraise -

Hello,

I am Lou Fraise, ITS-Training Services at University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.  Within the past year, I have become involved in the use of adaptive technologies for Disabled Students Services, through specific requests for training on Dragon,Kurzweil, and OneNote.  I survived a brain injury in 1977, and in most respects made what appeared to be a complete recovery.  I have been teaching Computer Applications for 20 years, and have only recently begun to realize the extent to which I use the computer to compensate for effects of the brain injury.  Working with Students with Disabilities has really brought me home to my own disabilities.

Sorry for the late start.  I just received an email re this seminar.  Trying to get myself registered, situated and into the moment.

Lou

In reply to Lou Fraise

Re: getting things started

by Claude Almansi -
Hi Lou,

Thank you for your sentence about using the computer to compensate the effects of brain injury. Have you written more at length on the issue? 

I am interested also because when my husband had his 2nd stroke in hospital in 96, the first thing I brought him was his laptop. I knew from his first one he was likely to have articulation problems. One nurse told me off saying he should concentrate on speaking with his mouth. So we went on using the laptop and hid it under the sheets when the door handle moved. But we weren't quick enough a few hours later. It was a junior doctor. He said "what a great idea! This way we'll be able to see if he has "word salad" aphasia". For Pete's sake! I had just brought the thing because I wanted him to be able to vent off.

Best

Claude

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -

I'm Deirdre Bonnycastle. I was an instructional designer at the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />University of Saskatchewan and I'm going to play the devil's advocate here. Five years ago, I did extensive research into online course accessibility and we came up with some minimum standards and did various training sessions. http://www.extension.usask.ca/extensionDivision/about/accessibility/index.html<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

We spend a lot of money making online courses accessible and in 5 years of a hundred courses per year, we never had a student with a disability register. All that work we did is now out of date. In the end, it would have been cheaper to wait for a student and make the necessary changes then.

This comment doesn’t apply to the university website which is more public and has its own accessibility team.

In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: getting things started

by Emma Duke-Williams -
I'm Emma Duke-Williams from POrtsmouth University in the UK. I'm now lecturing in the SChool of Computing, but have previously worked as a teacher in a College for students with learning & physical disabilities; many of whom had to use communication aids.

I'm interested in how IT can be used to support all learners - in particular those with Dyslexia.

The reason that I picked Deirdre's message to repy to was the fact that she's mentioned making online courses accessible & not having any disabled students registering. I'd be very surprised if you hadn't had students who had dyslexia, possibly undiagnosed, as it is so common - yet many of the standard guidelines don't address this need. In fact, quite often they seem to push designers away (I'm thinking, for example, of the fact that for a dyslexic user, a flash animation of how something works might well be a much better way of explaining it than text. I've found that some web designers, for fear of making anything inaccessible to the (really quite small) group of visually impaired users, often are wary of including media rich applications that can help a lot of users.

Emma

In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: getting things started

by Claude Almansi -
Hi Emma
We once corresponded about importing another blog into a Digital Divide Network blog.
Thanks for your question to Deirdre - better formulated than the one I was toying with.
Re students with dyslexia: I am interested too, because I recently met by  chance a former high school student who is now doing a Master's degree and is dyslexic. He told me that one thing he finds particularly hard is writing properly formatted bibliographies. I suggested he might try David Warlick's Son Of Citation Machine, coupled with Clipmarks when he is gathering material from the web.
Then there is a WebAIM's simulation of reading a web page when you have dyslexia.  See also the list of all WebAIM's simulations - I can't evaluate their accuracy, but for a layperson like me, they are thought-provoking.
In reply to Claude Almansi

Re: getting things started

by Lou Fraise -

As a matter of fact, I have noticed certain problems that seem to resemble dystlexic tendancies that have resulted from my previous brain injury (Note to self ... Must get tested one of these days).  I find that Dragon Naturally Speaking http://www.nuance.com/ which is priced at $185 CDN here at our Campus Computer Store in Saskatoon, has assisted me and others a great deal, since the computer seems to be able to hear my voice and interpret my words better than my brain can spell them and translate them onto keyboard or paper.

We also have a very worthwhile package called RefWorks (http://www.refworks.com/) to which the U of S subscribes for a charge, and makes available free of charge for all students through our Library Services.  It greatly assists with the production of bibliographies. The entries are stored complete, in APA and other formats, and can be copied and pasted "as is" into essays, theses and reports.

Another package, Kurzweil 3000 http://www.kurzweiledu.com/, which reads documents out loud, is far more costly, but U of S has purchased a network version and has a number of floating networked licences installed which I can access.  As long as I can scan to PDF, Kurzweil networked version will OCR the document and read it to me.

In reply to Lou Fraise

Re: getting things started

by ingo niestroj -
Lou, you stated ...As long as I can scan to PDF, Kurzweil networked version will OCR the document and read it to me.
What version of Kurzweil do you have.  To my knowledge, in standalone versions only the scan and read - black and white or  colour  -  will read  pdf files.  The learn  version  does not have OCR and therefore will not read pdf or tif files.  Do you have the OCR on the network?
cheers ingo
In reply to Claude Almansi

Re: getting things started

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Hi Claude,
yes, I remember you from the Digital Divide board.
Those Webaim simulations are good, aren't they? I tend to encourage all the students that I teach Web Design to to use, as many of them think "accessible = alt tags" and then stop.
I've not seen the Citation Machine - but I use Zotero for gathering references (it's a plugin for Firefox 2), though I've no idea how accessible it is.
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: getting things started

by ingo niestroj -
Hi, I am Ingo Niestroj from Lambton College in Sarnia, ON, Canada. I agree with Emma that it is hard to believe Deirdre statement that they had never a student needing accessibility accommodations.  I guess we often forget learning disabilities and other non visual disabilities when we talk about accommodations. There may be the undiagnosed student with LD; however, I would assume these would be more students who went through the system in the 70 and maybe early 80. Later "generations" may have been diagnosed with LD or ADD/ADHD and therefore have had appropriate accommodation or extra help through their school years. We find that students are reluctant to self identify, they want to try it on their own.  I think, the big issue is looking at alternative delivery modes, e.g. visual, auditory and text based.  In a general classroom the instructor can read the students' body language and adjust to it in delivery, on- line we do not have this benefit, we have to anticipate any possible situation and prepare for it.
that's it for my 5 cents,
greetings Ingo
In reply to ingo niestroj

Re: getting things started

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -

You are right, I wasn't including learning disabilities. The university has had students with learning disabilities taking online courses. I was referring to students with visual, auditory or physical issues that need W3C accessible courses. I've been out of the loop for several years and learning disabilities may now be included in those standards. Of course, some accessibility tools such as page readers apply to LD students.

My favourite high school LD story is a student who had a scribe for exams but wasn't allowed to use the scribe for computer-based exams because all the students had to be in the same computer room at the same time and talking wasn't allowed.

In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: getting things started

by Emma Duke-Williams -
students with visual, auditory or physical issues that need W3C accessible courses. I've been out of the loop for several years and learning disabilities may now be included in those standards

I
've an idea that the draft WCAG 2 does start to address them, but that's one of my problems with the w3 as they currently stand - it ignores what's by far and a way the biggest group -and, given that material that's written in clear language, with lots of supporting visual aids also helps students who are learning in a language that's not their first - it's a massive section of the student body - at least in the UK. I can't imagine other countries are that different.
In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: getting things started

by Sidney Tyrrell -

I know the feeling- everyone got very uptight here about what to do if we had a blind student which rather clouded the more general issues of dyslexia - your use of styles etc would surely have benefitted everyone and at least you would have raised awareness.

Ironically when we did have blind students we realised just how much more learning there was to do!

 

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Claude Almansi -
Hi, I am Claude Almansi and I live in Switzerland. I am not an IT professional, but I became involved in advocating web accessibility from having been involved in advocating the respect of physical accessibility  norms when my husband was in a wheelchair for the last 5 years of his life. For instance I made a podcast by recording a simulation of a screenreader, because a lady teaching the use of IT in education locally had exclaimed "but how can a blind person use a computer anyway?" when I told her that the VLE platform she had chosen was not accessible to blind people. And tomorrow I'll participate in a round table about accessibility laws and their implementation in Switzerland and Italy (http://www.adisi.ch/accessibilita/).
Best
Claude

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Shawn Draisey -
My name is Shawn Draisey I am the owner and CEO of a small career consulting firm in London Ontario. I am launching a pilot project with a client organization who want to see how VLE's can be used with barriered clients in need of career consulting. I am here to listen, read and soak in wisdom.
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Janna Cameron -
Good morning,

I am a Usability Specialist at Desire2Learn.  My goal is to make our platform easier to use for all learners.

I am quite interested in learning about what roadblocks people encounter when using an LMS to make an accessible course.

Janna
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Sidney Tyrrell -

Hi

I'm Sidney Tyrrell from Coventry University where we have used WebCT since 1999 and now are experiencing WebCT Vista (very successful introduction of that this year) which I am not too impressed with.

We have particular problem with students who are blind or partially sighted though fortunately have a member of staff, Anne Dickinson, who is both familiar with the problems of visual impairments and with the wokings of all the finer points of WebCT, all editions, so she guides students through the best strategy for them for coping with this VLE.

 

My interest is with the partially sighted and using PowerPoint with sound, and streamed, as an alternative to Flash for animations/learning objects.

 

In reply to Sidney Tyrrell

Re: getting things started

by Anne Dickinson -
Hello!
I'm the aforementioned Anne Dickinson from Coventry University (UK).  I have been writing tutor guides and most of the Student Guide for WebCT Vista.  The student guide is used in the first week of the new academic year at the University (at the end of September). 

Previous to working at the University, I worked in Further Education  where  I helped people learn basic computer (IT) techniques.  My students included people having a wide range of abilities.  At one stage, I worked in  a Day Centre for adults with disabilities.  My sessions would include small groups of people; for example, one group had someone with cerebral palsy (borderline mouse user), someone with limited movement (rollerball user), someone with memory problems and a reader of braille (keyboard user).  I had to tailor my handouts accordingly!

I have a special interest in e-learning and accessibility at the University - working in the Centre for the Study of Higher Education.  My work has led me to present at Vision 05,  http://www.rnib.org.uk/xpedio/groups/public/documents/Code/public_rnib004044.hcsp
based on the experience that I gained while tutoring one of Sidney's  students who relies on keyboard access and JAWS.  The student successfully graduated recently with a degree.
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Eoin Campbell -
Hi,
I am Technical Director of XML Workshop, a consultancy in Dublin, Ireland.
I have a number of different perspectives, some of them
possibly conflicting, but here goes anyway.

- We are working with a 3rd-level college which is shortly
  going live with its first elearning course for distance
  learners, and I may be providing remote and classroom
  tutorial support.

- We are developing our online Word to HTML conversion service
  to specifically support elearning materials, and
  are also integrating it with Moodle, so I am always
  interested in how people create such materials, and
  whether they are accessible.

- We provide various accessibility auditing and consulting
  services, including conversion of materials into accessible
  HTML and sometimes accessible PDF format, usually from Word
  or QuarkXPress format.
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Carole Cotton -

Hello everyone.  My name is Carole Cotton.  I retired early from the local community college where I worked as a career and employment specialist, so I could spend more time learning and teaching in the online environment.

Currently I am on the faculty of the Career Development Practitioner Program http://www.conestogac.on.ca/career/ at Conestoga College, Kitchener, Ontario  http://www.conestogac.on.ca/  This program is offered fully online.  As well, I facilitate a career portfolio course delivered online for OPSEU (Ontario Public Service Employees Union).  I live in Hamilton, Ontario.

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Pam Berman -
Hi, my name is Pam Berman. I am an instructional designer/developer at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. I am very interested in what it takes to make information and learning available for all types of learners and I have been most fortunate to work with several people from around the world who are also interested in this subject such as Charles L. Chen, creator of Fire Vox and CLiCkSpeak http://firevox.clcworld.net/ and Roberto Scano http://www.guestinvenice.com/home.asp.
 
I am currently assisting two professors on a grant to offer four online courses in the Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Program http://department.bloomu.edu/deafed/. These online courses have a synchronous portion in which one class meets once a week and the other meets once every two weeks. One of the professors and two of the students are deaf. Another student is hard of hearing and has severe visual limitations. It has been very interesting adapting synchronous tools (initially designed for the hearing) so everyone can participate in the class.
 
I look forward to learning more.
 
Pam
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Jayne Butler -

Hello,

I am Jayne Butler from the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada. I work with faculty to design and develop distance education courses. I am currently working on a project to make one course as accessible as possible to see what we can learn. My interest in accessibility is personal as well as professional since I have a son who has low vision. I am very interested in research that sheds light on how the accessibility approaches taken in online courses either help or don't help the people the approaches are designed for. It's not easy information to find and I suspect in many cases doesn't exist at all.

Jayne Butler

Distance Learning Specialist

Office of Open Learning

University of Guelph

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Patrice Wheeler -

Hi,

My name Is Patrice Wheeler. I'm the Assistive Tech person on the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />North Idaho College campus (USA). I work for the office that provides accommodations to students with disabilities (Center for Educational Access, CEA). I assist students with hardware, software, seating issues. I also assist students who are blind or low-vision with access to everything from Braille, e-text, to lab science classes. We have 5 satellite campuses in our region and I'm responsible to maintain the same level services & access at these sites as we have on the main campus. The number of students (with & without disabilities) who access online courses and our satellite campuses is growing each semester, so I'm very interested in how online courses and assistive technology can work well to provide access for students

Patrice

 

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Cath Stager-Kilcommons -
Greetings,
I am Cath Stager-Kilcommons, a web accessibility and assistive technology specialist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.  I have been involved in getting students access to their learning materials for ten years.

Currently, I am involved in an grant to institutionalize universal design for learning theories and best practices into the training currently available at the university.

Our university is starting to implement v 6 of WebCT, (full implementation Fall 2007), and we are looking for more information on best practices in e-learning. We are looking for what new issues and barriers this version is presenting.

We ultimately want to have a demo course that is maximized for accessibility, to offer templates to help create more usable course materials, and to have more resources for instructors wishing to follow-up on their own.  We would love to collaborate on this as well. 

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Tanieth Dale -
Good Day

I am Tanieth Dale, Information Technology Support Services - University of Saskatchewan.

I will be investigating Universal Accessibility here at the  UofS and hope to gather  information from  the experiences  and expertise  of  others participating in this seminar.

I am interested in the range of definition that is currently understood by "Accessibility" as well as examples / benefits / limitations of accessibility technologies currently being used  / investigated.

Tanieth

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: Getting Things Started: An Introduction

by Karen Baker -

Greetings!  I am Karen Parrish Baker from Morehead State University in Kentucky (USA).  I am an associate professor, master degree level adult and higher education administration program, and online instructor.  My interests are two fold.  First, I am a 2006-2007 University of Minnesolta PASS IT Fellow (see descriptive passage below) charged with facilitating professional development opportunities about Universal Instructional Design at my campus and to colleagues in my academic areas of expertise.  For those who may not be familiar with PASS IT:

PASS IT (“Pedagogy and Student Services for Institutional Transformation") seeks to address a compelling need in higher education by developing a corps of trainers to facilitate professional development workshops in the implementation of Universal Design (UD) and Universal Instructional Design (UID) in higher education. UID, an adaptation of the architectural concept of Universal Design, is a relatively new model for providing access to higher education for students with disabilities. Through UD and UID, staff and faculty create more welcoming spaces for all students by rethinking professional practices to develop curricula and programs that are inclusive for all learners. When faculty and staff implement UD and UID as they begin planning for a course, program, or activity by taking into consideration the strengths and challenges of all students, they reduce or eliminate the need to provide last-minute accommodations or to segregate students on the basis of individual needs. (Excerpt retrieved 12/4/06 from: http://www.education.umn.edu/passit/articles/celebrateGrant.html.)

Second, as an online instructor, I have my own concerns about accessiblity issues as our university moves more of its courses and academic programs online.  Consequently, I view this discussion opportunity as part of my own professional development to enrich my understanding and applicabilility of strategies for increasing accessibility for students, faculty and staff.

In reply to Karen Baker

Re: Getting Things Started: An Introduction

by Karen Baker -
Sorry about the large photo; I thought it would come out much smaller.
In reply to Karen Baker

Re: Getting Things Started: An Introduction

by Sylvia Currie -
Karen, don't worry about the photo! It's a great picture, and not too big. I took the liberty of converting it to jpg and adding it to your profile.
Sylvia
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Dawn Cox -

Hello everyone,

I am currently working on my PhD in Instructional Design for Online Learning but my MS and current teaching jobs are in math and science.   I teach College Algebra for two online colleges. 508 guidelines are very much needed and I believe in following them.

I have a totally off-the-wall topic here to bring up.  There are many students who are disabled (actually crippled) by math anxiety or test anxiety. Should this be a part of this discussion? It is not really an accessibility issue but it is something that might need to be considered in course design.  I am interested in any comments or criticisms

Dawn
In reply to Dawn Cox

Re: getting things started

by Lourdes Hernandez -

Hi to everyone.

My name is Lourdes Hernandez and I am a Special Education Teacher at an Elementary in Brownsville, TX (The very southern tip of Texas). I am currently working with high incidence disabilities (Learning Disabilities) but I have some low incidence cases. I don't have IT experience, but I would like to see if somebody has developed something for persons with autism.

I do agree with you Dawn, about the math anxiety. I think that some labels are given based on the severe fear that some students feel in regards to math. I would like to see if someone has tried something with good results. smile

In reply to Lourdes Hernandez

Re: getting things started

by Emma Duke-Williams -
i guess that "math anxiety" could be extended to all subjects, as well as just maths!

DO you know if any of the students with anxieties about maths have been tested to see if they have dyscalcula, or is it just assumed that it's "OK" to be worried about a maths lesson, in the way that someone who's very worried about their performance in English might wonder if they have dyslexia & seek assisstance.

re. The Autism, I've not seen anything Lourdes, though knowing the range of students with autism, I'd have thought it quite difficult to develop something specific. Also, given the fact that many (most?) people on the autistic spectrum like very structured activities, I'd have thought that many of the Computer based learning packagees (especially the older ones) that are often less used these days as they're too based on a behavioural type design - and very predictable/ heading towards boring - they might well be reassuring & familiar.
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Janice White -

Hello to everyone,

I'm Janice White, an instructional designer with the University of Queensland (Australia) and previously worked in the TAFE sector in NSW as a teacher (disability support, communication, basic IT and language,literacy and numeracy). I've been involved in design, development and delivery of training using online, blended and F2F modes.

Many of the postings express interest in topics I will be 'zeroing' in on such as universal design, the work-arounds and/or building blocks plus inexpensive or free alternatives available to fully enable students with disabilities to use LMSs (eg Blackboard). The ideal is that the technology can be transparent/seamless/'just a tool' with the learning and engagement with content, peers and instructors as the primary focus.

A current project focuses on modelling Universal Design of Learning to trainee teachers in supporting students with diverse needs, including those with a disability. Philosophy, pedagogy, technology, software, anecdotes and for sure other aspects I haven't thought of interest me. Looking forward to engaging with you all and accessibility in elearning! :-)

Attachment janice_atNara2.JPG
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by WL Wong -
Hi everyone,

Greetings from Sydney. I currently work in the LMS area (from a web development role) and have been working/researching on web accessibility issues. Of particular interest to me is the accessibility of Learning Management Systems (LMS) and other related third-party products used with LMS.

Cheers,
Wai-Leng
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Raena Jackson Armitage -
Hello,

My name is Raena Jackson Armitage and I work for a local vendor of a largish content management system.  We don't do heaps of eLearning but I'm very interested in accessibility and people's experiences with online/Web based tools in general.  I'm sure I'll do a lot of reading and not a lot of talking. :)
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Di Paez -

Hi All,

My name is Di Paez and I am the Project Manager, Australia for the Liberated Learning Consortium which has been involved in a Joint Study Agreement with IBM for the past seven years. I am located at the University of the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland, Australia.

The aim of the Consortium is:

Through collaboration, Liberated Learning will advance speech recognition technology and techniques to create and foster barrier-free learning environments where all learners have equal access to information.

Under the Joint Study Agreement, IBM have developed ViaScribe which automatically captures a transcript, audio and PowerPoint slides and can be synchronised with video presentations for use as an blended or e-learning tool. The transcript can be used for soft braille or used by screen readers in word, it can also be annotated in real-time.

The output can be in Real, HTML, SAMI or customised and the student can chose if they want transcript, audio, video or Powerpoint as well as other multimedia combinations of the presentation.

I have attached a screen dump to show you what Real and HTML of the outputs might look like.

A new feature of ViaScribe is the ability to develop talking books and we are also developing the ability to capture multiple speakers using voice recognition.

For more information on the Consortium log onto www.liberatedlearning.com or contact me.

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Timothy Wells -
I am an associate professor in the department of information technology at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) where I teach in the MS in Learning & Knowledge Management program.  I am also a doctoral student in Fielding Graduate University's Media Psychology program.  I am interesting in accessibility issues and online collaboration - RIT is home of NTID (National Technical Institute for the Deaf).
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Klaus Reich -
Hi, I am Klaus Reich from Innsbruck, Austria. I am working as a researcher for a small research institute and as the managing director for a network of evaluators.
More in relation to the topic of the seminar: I am enrolled in a two year course at the University of Linz (Austria) on eAccessibility, design-for-all and barrier-free webdesign.
Current focus in my research is set to the needs of elderly persons in relation to ICT based learning, e.g. the development of a VLE for older learners, the development of a train-the-trainer course focussing on this target group etc.

klaus

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by ingo niestroj -
Hallo everybody,

I guess I jumped into the subject without introducing myself - sorry about that.  So here is my introduction, I guess better late than never, eh winkGreetings from Lambton College in Sarnia, ON.  My name is Ingo Niestroj, my position is learning strategist and assistive devices technologist.  I am trying to include technology into learning where ever possible.  One of my big beefs about assignments is listen to it before you hand it in.  Our primary way of communicating is in general by voice, therefore we may be much better in hearing mistakes than seeing them.

I am looking forward for new information and good discussions!

greetings,

Ingo
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Susan Alcorn MacKay -

Wow, what a varied gang of people on this. My name is Susan Alcorn MacKay and I've been the director of disability services at the Glenn Crombie Centre at Cambrian College in Sudbury, Ontario. We have about 700 students with disabilities annually. Nice to see so many people I know on this webinar! I'm interested in all ascpect of access to learning for persons with all disabilities. We currently have a student who is using her eyes as the mouse to access the computer for self-directed learning and access to the Internet - she is so proficient that she can access anything she needs with only her eyes.

I'm interested in WebCT/Blackboard as a service provider and course developer, and course taker.

A big topic that would make everything more intuitive would be if everyone used the principles of Universal Instructional Design in planning their course work and implementation..

:) susan

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Jane Jarrow -
Hi!

My name is Jane Jarrow and I am a private consultant, working in the area of disability and higher education. As the former Executive Director of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), I have been involved in the field for more than 25 years, but lately find myself focusing more and more on issues of inclusion for students with disabilities in online education. I am particularly interested in issues of programmatic access -- that is, transferring the kinds of accommodations we have traditionally made for students with disabilities in "seated" classes on campus to the virtual world.

I admit it -- I am one of the most technologically UNsavvy people I know. I understand most of the discussion about what needs to be done to make information accessible to students with disabiities using assistive technology, and about how to improve the accessibility/availability of information presented through the website and internet. But, to me, that seems a lot like making sure that the ramps and elevators are in place on campus. It is the "architectural accessibility" that is primary to the built environment of the internet. But after we got students with disabiities INTO our classrooms, we still needed to do more to get them access to the curriculum. I am working on the premise that the same is true for online education!

Janie Jarrow
In reply to Jane Jarrow

Re: getting things started

by Susan Alcorn MacKay -

Janie so nice to see 'see' you again in such a forum. You modestly gave your background but what many of you who have not been in disability services for the last decade don't know is that Janie is one of the architects of postsecondary disability service - identification of same, set up, evaluation and now, it seems, lets move on to a new platform! On line learning wasn't even a thought 15 years ago!

So I'm not surprised you've moved on (or back to) the essential question that has been concerning us for some time - how to create a truly accessible environment, accessible to every student - past the 'ramp'.

I would like to think we've made some progress since the early days to the point that on-line learning (though ways in are of course critical) is designed to be truly inclusive.

Universal instructional design is about more than access what the 'professor' presents but more about making access to knowledge meaningful on different levels. Now, if we can just merge the two!!

susan

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Janet Bowen -

Hi,

My name is Janet and I am an instructional designer for Online learning. In fact I am currently working with accessibility issues in a current project. Some of the issues that I deal with have nothing to do with the addition of alt text or closed captioning, but rather those who are requesting the instruction to understand the meaning of accessibility.

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Ian Calder -

 Greetings all,

My name is Ian Calder and I work in London, UK. Currently I am involved in developing e-Learning materials, primarily delivered through the WebCT Vista virtual learning environment, but I have also looked after various educational websites. I always strive to make the materials I produce as accessible as possible, though often this is hampered because of lack of access to assistive technologies to properly test them out as well as vagueness of what does genuinely make them accessible to end-users. So, I am interested to learn as much as possible through these discussions and there have been some interesting points already.

Ian

 

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Jim Julius -
Hi. I'm Jim Julius, associate director of Instructional Technology Services for San Diego State University. The California State University (CSU) system is currently making a very big push toward 508 compliance (US law regarding accessibility) in the areas of web accessibility, instructional materials, and technology procurement. I'm involved in our campus working groups on the first two of those three issues. Additionally, though SDSU offers very little distance education at this time, we have thousands of courses using Blackboard, and we have significant interest emerging in blended/hybrid and fully online course redesigns. I am hoping that accessibility and universal design can be built in from the beginning to faculty development efforts to support course redesign, and I would love to hear from others about effective practices for communicating with faculty and engaging them in faculty development.
In reply to Jim Julius

Re: getting things started

by parker owens -

I am also interested in how to engage faculty and persuade them to make their documents accessible.

We have four accessibility classes that we offer, awareness, how-to make Word, PPT, and PDFs accessible, accessibility in blackboard, and accessibility for web developers. I am adding accessible podcasting next spring. Informing faculty has been an uphill battle, because, quite frankly, they don't want to do the extra work.

We have a website with targeted information (www.accessibility.eku.edu/training.php), offer classes, a newsletter, offer lunch and learns, etc.

One thing that is working well is giving a 10 minute introduction (with handouts targeted to faculty interests) at regularly scheduled staff meetings. We also hope to offer an incentive program for attending classes when funds become available. We would also like to create more podcasts.

The State of Kentucky is also working on a Web Developers Accessibility Certification program, that we will implement as soon as it is available.

I would love to hear about any experience with faculty training initiatives.

 

In reply to parker owens

Re: getting things started

by Larry Hull -

I'd love to know more about the Web Developers Accessibility Certification program that the State of Kentucky is developing.

Is this program intended to certify developers working for the state or working in the state or developing Web sites for the state?

Are any other countries, states, providences or territories working on something of this nature?

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Lisa Valentine -
Hi all

Late as usual - story of my life really. Thanks to Emma Duke-Williams who enlightened me about this seminar discussion. 

I'm based in Lancaster University in the North West of England and have the splendid title of Specialist Colleges and Accessibility Adviser.  Having read much of these discussions I now feel that I know absolultely nothing.  However, one point seems to be common to all these or other discussions on accessibility - we are all preaching to the converted.  How do we get the 'making your teaching accessible - is just good teaching' message to the mainstream lecturer/teacher?
In reply to Lisa Valentine

Re: getting things started

by Mechelle De Craene -

Hello everybody,

This is my first post in the forum. I am a middle school special education teacher in Florida and am learning so much reading all your post. Thank you all for sharing.

Kind Regards,

Mechelle : )

http://elgg.net/mechelledc/weblog/

 

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Kaj Rietberg -
Hello,

my name is Kaj Rietberg. I work as a teacher in special needs education. It's in the Netherlands. I have children with ADHD and Autistic spectrum disorder in my classroom. But beside that we see that most children have trouble with learning to write the language (looks like or is dyslexia) but also having troubles with maths (looks like or is dyscalculie). I'm interested in how learning with ICT can enhance the learning of these children. The age of the children is 8 until 10 years.

I think that the accessability on elearning for these children can be better. I think that the less information is better and the use of always the same picto for buttons is better. But also can elearning let children who have trouble to stay in a classroom learn in a safe place with a computer.

I think that cycling is the best sport in the world, so that's why I put in the picture of me cycling.
Attachment Kajkleiner.jpg
In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: getting things started

by Russell Solowoniuk -

Hello everyone,

 

My name is Russell Solowoniuk and I work in the Services to Students with Disabilities department at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton Alberta.

 

I've been frantically reading all the posts trying to catch up. There's so much good information being exchanged...it's awesome.

 

Part of my job is contacting publishers to request electronic files of textbooks. We've had good success with some publishers and not so good with others, as others here have mentioned.

 

Our college is upgrading to WebCT Campus edition 6 this spring and I am interested in any accessibility issues with this version.

 

In reply to Russell Solowoniuk

Re: getting things started

by Susan Alcorn MacKay -

Hi Russell, nice to see you aboard - there is certainly a huge variety of expertise on this seminar and I want to thank Jennison and Catherine for thinking of it - I don't want it to end! (I like how the messages pop up into my mail so I can read throughout the day - in between invigilating!).

We use webCT (now Blackboard Learning Systems) at our college and for the most part (except all the button are visual and some of the interactions are shown through small, blue letters such as when you want to create a link to a document within the system) find it not too bad.

However, unless someone knows something I don't, students need to copy and paste text into a screen reader - it won't allow a screen reader to work within the frames. So we put the link for the free download of readplease at the beginning of each page and give students directions.

The BIG problem is that faculty may be creating curriculum using programs within the webCT environment that are not accessible - for example, OPUS is a program that all our trades teachers use to capture demonstrations with text - like a jpg- so there is nothing to copy and paste into a screen reader for the tons of students with LD in trades programs.

So we've had to hire people to 'read' the text within that program and create MP3 that we embed in the material so students who need to hear it can.

We have discontinued OPUS for the future development but we have hundreds of high tech courses already created....

In reply to Susan Alcorn MacKay

Re: getting things started

by Christie Mason -
That sounds like the same problems their site has, except I dont' see any frames.  Plus, there's content in animated gifs, and content in navigation images w/o an alt attribute.  Their header image occupies around 25% of the valuable "above the fold" area.  In total 50% of the above the fold space is occupied by inaccessible graphics.

I'm wondering if anyone knows WHY these types of programs still use frames.  Is it a holdover from SCORM implementation kludges?  CBT thinking? I can't think of any other type of application that is still using frames, just these.

On a different note, I wish there was some way to move this thread to "Current Challenges".  That may not be an accessability issue, but it's a usability issue. What would be really nice would be the ability to cross tag topics and replies within  multiple areas.

Christie Mason