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Archive for the 'Accessibility' Category

Improving the accessibility of Moodle content with Blackboard Ally

EliotHoving11 September 2019

Blackboard Ally Logo

UCL has acquired a new technology called Blackboard Ally to help improve the accessibility of content within Moodle, in line with UK legislation.

Ally runs within Moodle to provide alternative file formats for students and accessibility guidance for staff.

It will be launched prior to the start of term on Wednesday 18th September.

Alternative formats on demand

Ally uses machine algorithms to convert common file types to alternative formats with no extra effort required from staff. For example, a staff member can upload their lecture slides as a PowerPoint file to Moodle, and Ally will subsequently and automatically offer students the option to download the file in its original format or a range of alternative formats including audio (mp3), PDF, ePub for eReaders, or Braille reader format.

Alternative formats are essential for certain students and provide advantages to all students. Ally’s alternative formats allow for multi-sensory learning which can have benefits to educational outcomes and well-being. For example, at universities already using Ally, students have converted lecture slides to audio for listening to during their commute and to help them revise.

However, alternative formats will only be as accessible as the original source file. You should therefore always ensure you follow best practice when creating your content.

Helping staff identify where accessibility improvements can be made

Ally also provides staff with an accessibility score and guidance on common files within Moodle including PDF, PowerPoint and Word documents.  This includes files already present within Moodle and new files as they are uploaded. The accessibility score and guidance are available to staff but not students. Using Ally and Digital Education’s guidance on creating accessible content, staff will be able to identify and improve the accessibility of their teaching resources.

You can learn more about Ally by visiting the UCL staff guide on Blackboard Ally and by watching Blackboard’s video below:

Students can be directed towards UCL student guide on Blackboard Ally.

Keep an eye on the Digital Education blog for updates.

If you have any questions relating to Ally, or you would like a demonstration for your Department, please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

Digital Accessibility – from Directive to DNA

SamanthaAhern22 July 2019

I have been very excited by the flurry of activity that has been triggered by The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations (2018)   across my own and other institutions. These regulations haven’t really introduced anything new, much of it is covered by existing equalities legislation, but it has shifted the focus. Previously, we could be reactive and in our laziest moments rely on those that needed adjustments to request them. Now, we are required to be proactive. To create content that is accessible by design and follows Universal Design for Learning principles around designing for POUR (i.e., so content is Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust). Aligning with the social model of disability: people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference.

Tweet by Danielle Johnstone describing some of the Lego activity outcomes.Many colleagues I meet are concerned about what the regulation means in terms of workload, what is required of them and how they become compliant. A range of guidance and support is being delivered to help raise awareness and develop the required skills. But, fundamentally there needs to be a mind shift.

Although there are deadlines associated with the regulations, I would argue that digital accessibility is not a compliance challenge but a cultural shift. A move from directive or requirement to part of our institutional DNA.

In a workshop I co-hosted with my colleague Leo Havemann, a participant described Digital Accessibility as being akin to Escher’s staircase, and I believe that they are correct. We will never not need to consider accessibility as part of our learning and content designs, and it may at times be impossible to be 100% accessible to everyone. However, it doesn’t mean that this shouldn’t become part of our day-to-day practice. The recently launched Student Health and Wellbeing Strategy echoes this with Action 1D: Make key concepts related to disability awareness, inclusive learning, health and wellbeing an integral part of relevant professional services staff and Personal Tutor training. Incorporate these concepts into curriculum development, design and governance.

So, how do we make accessibility part of our everyday? The aim of the aforementioned workshop was to crowd-source ideas on how to create the cultural shift, but also to identify what we can do now to help affect our institutional cultures.

Screenshot of tweet by Kris Rogers showing workshop Lego modelFor creating a cultural shift, key themes were to obtain buy-in from senior leadership teams and to embed digital accessibility in induction, training and promotion/development requirements. Making it part of the institutional language and ways of working for all. There was an acknowledgement that we needed to be honest with colleagues that it would require additional effort and different ways of thinking and doing. However, this would reduce over time as a result of skills development, cultural shift and tools to help. There should also be a bottom-up approach facilitated by peer evaluation and creating a network of champions within and across institutions.

With regard to what we can do now, 15% solution, a key theme was walking the talk – demonstrating good practice through our own behaviours and leading the way for others to follow. Training and support were also key themes, as were demonstrating good practice and cultivating empathy.

There may well be dragons to face along the way, but they are worth facing for the creation of a more inclusive and equitable institution.

If you would like to run the workshop at your institution, the materials are available under CC BY-SA 4.0 license: DirectiveToDNA-AccessibilityWorkshop

The materials are also available via OpenEd@UCL.

Digital accessibility face to face sessions

Caroline ENorris11 June 2019

Decorative
As you may be aware, new accessibility regulations have recently come into force which affects most digital content such as UCL web sites, e-learning content and library systems and any files that are hosted on these.  Digital Education are offering a number of options for you to get support with making your content accessible.

Drop in sessions
Every Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m in in Room G11, 26 Bedford Way

Get more individual help with making your content accessible, no appointment necessary.
Sessions will also cover making your Moodle courses compliant with the E-learning baseline.
Changes to the schedule will be publicised here so please check before travelling to the session.

Courses
Learn how to create accessible Word, PowerPoint and Excel files in this two hour hands-on course.
Book a place on the Creating accessible documents course

Briefing sessions
A short presentation introducing the legislation, what is required and by when.
View or download the latest version of the PowerPoint slides (last updated 09/07/2019).
Book a place (last session 26/07/2019)
If you would like to arrange a session for your department please email us to arrange.

Self-help resources
You can find further information about how to make your content accessible on our Digital Accessibility pages, including links to online courses.

Educause – Key issues in T&L in 2019

20 February 2019

A US focus to the infographic of course, but an interesting insight nonetheless.

Follow-up notes and “7 things” briefing papers at https://www.educause.edu/eli/initiatives/key-issues-in-teaching-and-learning

Windows 7 Colour and Font Modifications Missing from Windows 10

Michele CFarmer7 January 2019

The issue is that in previous versions of Windows, you were able to get into the settings to change the colour of the window background, so that when you opened a Microsoft Word or Excel file, the background colour on your screen was your chosen shade.

The window option allowed a colour chart to open up, where you could move the cursor around to find the exact shade you were looking for (alla Win 98, 2000, XP, 2007, etc.). In Microsoft 10, there is no simple option.

The current accessibility options provided by MS for Win 10 are pretty awful.

I have been in touch with Microsoft and they say that due to complaints that they will be bringing this facility back, but we do not know when.

This window is no longer available

Screenshot of Windows 7 colour and appearance options

In the meantime UCL users can access a ‘Screenmasking’ option from a networked piece of software called TextHelp Read and Write. This software is either found on the Desktop@UCL, or from the Software Centre or Database.

Screen-masking Option Menu in TextHelp Read and Write

Zoomtext and Dragon for Mac – Discontinued

Michele CFarmer6 November 2018

Zoomtext has been discontinued for the Mac. At present I do not know what they have planned, if at all, for a replacement.

The individual Dragon for Mac has also been discontinued, however, users will be able to access Dragon for their Macs via a subscription service for Dragon Anywhere. Information on the Dragon changes can be found here.