This issue covers:

  • Universal Design
  • Assistive Technology
  • Diversity
  • Commentary on Videos
  • list of resources

Assistive Technology Today:

UDL/AT Newsletter
By: Daniel Brown

IT Accessibility: What Campus Leaders Have to Say from the University of Washington's Do It Video College focuses on UDL and how different people throughout a college campus are impacted by it. It includes the view from university administration, chief information officers, information technology managers and vendors. It talks about how they are ensuring faculty members understand what is required when creating a new program or course. One of the focal points of the video is that in the end if a course is designed well that it will not cost more and can increase accessibility in the long run.

What is
»UDL?«

UDL stands for universal design for learning. UDL calls for multiple means of:

  • Representation
  • Expression
  • Engagement

Using Universal Design for Learning can help people with all learning styles be successful in learning concepts.

The video recommends a policy since there is also legal pressure on higher education. Tracy Mitranso, the Director of IT Policy at Cornell University, says there are two types of policies:

  • The policy that is required due to laws so you are sure that you are compliant.
  • "Aspirational Policy" is a policy put in place in order to move forward but it does not have to be fully compliant since its usually setting a strategic direction for a university.
Overall the video concludes that now is the time to start implementing UDL and not later in the future.

What is
»AT?«

AT stands for assistive technology. This is a term used to describe all of the tools, products, and devices, that is commonly used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals, especially individuals with disabilities.

Examples of assistive technology tools include touch screens, screen readers, voice recognition and head pointers.

Screenshot of Michael K. Young the President of the University of Washington

A screenshot of Michael K. Young, President of the University of Washington, a presentor in the IT Accessibility; What Campus Leaders Have to Say Webinar. He emphasized how everyone from vendors to faculty to administrators must be actively involved to make educational courses more accessible.

When creating a course remember to consider UDL and AT with a diverse audience. UDL does not just focus on individuals with a disabilities but in other scenarios like an individual breaking their arm or forgetting their laptop in a class that requires a computer.

Diversity is having a variety of characteristics in a group. In a context with people, generally speaking most people think of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, religion, physical or mental limitations, etc.

 

Screenshot of Student with Disabilities

A screenshot of a student with disabilities in the Real Connections: Making Distance Learning Accessible to Everyone video. He emphasized how distance education made learning more accessible to him.

Real Connections: Making Distance Learning Accessible to Everyone is another video from the University of Washington's Do It Video College and it focuses on enabling distance learning to everyone for a wide variety of individuals especially those with dissabilities. The video focuses on individuals with visual imparements and learning disabilities. Recommendations were given for a variety of web resources and are outlined:

  • Printed material-alternatives include brail or electronic text
  • Email-are good since screen reader are already available
  • Real time chat-should be made optional or an alternative for people with learning disabilities should be available
  • Web pages-consider to use proper html and remember screen readers cant read all visual elements
  • Video-should include a seperate audio track or transcript with descriptive text of important visual elements
  • Teleconferecing-can cause scheduling problem
  • Web Conferencing-needs to support wide variety of assistive technology
  • Electronic Documents-needs proper html design
  • Onsite Conferencing-should consider building accessibility and describe visual props
  • Getting Started-make sure to start planning udl before content is created

The video directly related to UDL, AT and Diversity since it went over some of the most common types of content presentation and discussed major considerations for each.

As shown in both the webinars, while assistive technology is important UDL is more critical especially as any material whether it be software, a printed book, or a course to increase accessibility. The videos helped enforce that for UDL to take place it is a collaborative effort and UDL should start in the planning phase.

Resources

CAST

CAST is an organization who's mission is "to expand learning opportunities for all individuals, especially those with disabilities, through the research and development of innovative, technology-based educational resources and strategies."

SC ATP

The South Carolina Assistive Technology Program is a federally funded program whose primary concern is getting technology into the hands of people with disabilities. They hope this will help those individuals be a more indepednet part of the community.

Microsoft Enable

This is an excellent resource for Accessibility in Microsoft. It provides tutorials, training, and accessibility in action to products created by Microsoft. It provides resources for the most recent version of Windows, Office and Assistive Technology products.

Section 508 Site

Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their information technology accessible to people with disabilities. This website provides information related to the standards, training, and Frequently Asked Questions about Section 508.

W3C Site

W3C (Web Accessibility Initiative) is the international governing body for the development of platform independent web standards and specifications. W3C also sets the standards for HTML, XHTML, & CSS, which effect Section 508 laws.