We had the pleasure of learning from Penny Pearson. She was a former Coordinator for Distance Learning Projects at OTAN supporting adult education teachers with technology integration and professional development for California since 2007. She officially retired form OTAN in July of 2022, and now works part-time for OTAN as a subject matter expert. Prior to coming to OTAN, she was a Career Technical Education instructor for 12 years. She frequently presents at conferences at all levels. She advocates for accessible documents, and she is a vocal supporter of Open Educational Resources for Adult Learners. Beyond that she was phenomenal in yesterday's session. She has an incredible amount of knowledge around accessibility in our field. The session was chock full of information and resources. If you missed it you missed an amazing session. As always, I am sharing my top takeaways from the session below.
- Why is accessibility important? 61 million American adults (26%) live with some type of disability (physical, cognitive, neurological). It is important that they get the same information that is available to the rest of us.
- We are ALL responsible for making the world accessible- it isn’t someone else’s job. Also it is The LAW!
- A11Y = Accessibility A (the 11 letters in between) Y – you may see this as a way to refer to accessibility
- Provide information in a way that provides an equivalent experience for EVERYONE (i.e. multiple devices for navigation, multiple sensory channels, etc.)
- You don’t want an inaccessible document associated with your name and organization
- 4 POUR principles for educational materials-
- Perceivable - Means the user can identify content and interface elements by means of the senses. For many users, this means perceiving a system primarily visually, while for others, perceivability may be a matter of sound or touch.
- Operable – Means that a user can successfully use controls, buttons, navigation, and other interactive elements. For many users this means using assistive technology like voice recognition, keyboards, screen readers etc.
- Understandable-Users should be able to comprehend the content; materials is consistent in its presentation and format, predictable in its design and usage patterns, and appropriate to the audience in its voice and tone.
- Robust -Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of users, allowing them to choose the technology they use to interact with websites, online documents, multimedia, and other information formats. Users should be allowed to choose their own technologies to access content.
- When we make materials accessible they can benefit EVERYONE (i.e. closed captioning for deaf or hard of hearing also benefits people with lots of background noise).
- Let publishers know to consider accessibility as they design materials on the front end, and educators do not have to work quite so hard to make things accessible on the back end,
- Accessibility= equity
- Videos should have closed captioning and/or have transcripts
- Use plain language
- Perform accessibility checks through Microsoft and other tools
- Use descriptive texts for links, not just “click here;” something more descriptive helps a person decide if they want to go out of your document to the outside source
- Use Microsoft Accessibility Checker
- Microsoft has a Disability Help Desk that Provides Free Courses
- Use built in headings and styles in documents so that screen readers can make the distinction for the user
- Use >12 font in documents
- Don’t use tables for anything but data; screen readers get confused by merged cells and images
- Avoid slide animations and transitions; screen readers cannot work with those
This session was so great. I normally aim for 10 takeaways, but this time I had almost 20 because there was so much new information. I think the biggest takeaway from this whole session though is that while it is easy to continue to create content quickly the way that we have always done it, we now know that doing that is consciously excluding learners with special needs. Like everything else, we can learn, and then making assets and instruction accessible will become second nature.
Which of the tips above was new for you?
Thank you for sharing these takeaways, Carmine. I invite those looking for more resources on supporting learners with disabilities to keep an eye out for another LINCS event later this fall with the Job Accommodations Network (JAN). This event will be hosted by the Learners with Disabilities group and share resources for working with adult learners on understanding and applying for workplace accommodations. Keep an eye on the LINCS events tab for date, time and registration information coming soon!