Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Overview 

As part of the University’s commitment to an inclusive and accessible education for all, we are celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on 19th May 2022.Global Accessibility Awareness Day logo By taking part, we hope to get everyone talking about inclusion and accessibility, to raise awareness of the positive impact of accessible course content and to improve overall digital accessibility at the University.

More information can be found in this video from the eLearning team

Last year over 1400 improvements were made to files on MyAberdeen. Let's see if we can make even more improvements this year!

If you have any queries, please contact cad@abdn.ac.uk.

 

Accessibility Workshops

How to Get Involved in GAAD 2022

Below you will find information on how you can get involved in GAAD this year and some inspiration to get you started.  

Fix Your Content Competition

Making simple changes to course learning materials can remove barriers for students with disabilities/impairments and positively impact the overall accessibility of your course. To demonstrate this, we are entering Blackboard's Fix Your Content Day again this year.

We aim to fix as many course files on MyAberdeen as we can and invite you to do the same. This competition takes place over 24 hours, and we encourage you to take some time on 19th May to look at a Course Accessibility Report for one of your courses and fix at least one item. A “fix” is when the accessibility score of a file is improved through Ally – it does not matter by how much.

There will be an international leader board showing the institution that has made the most improvements - let's get the University on the leaderboard! 

 

Pledge to Fix Your Content

If you would like to take part, we would encourage you to pledge to take some time on 19th May to make suggested fixes to your course files. To do this, go to one of your courses on MyAberdeen and check the Ally accessibility score of your files. If your documents need improvements, Ally will provide for suggestions for how you can do this.

It is up to you how long you would like to spend on this - you can pledge ten minutes or an hour - whatever you have the time to do. Individuals within CAD will also be pledging their time to make fixes and we will be sharing these on our Twitter account in the coming weeks.

Ideas for Getting Started

Not sure of where start? See some ideas below.

  • Pledge to spend 10 to 15 minutes learning how to make accessible content and make some simple changes to your documents as needed. For example, adding heading styles will allow users with a visual impairment to navigate your document effectively with a screen-reader.
  • Pledge to spend 30 minutes to an hour looking at your Course Accessibility Report and make some simple fixes. 
  • Pledge to spend 1 to 2 hours editing or adding captions to a video you are using in a course. This will allow users with hearing impairments to engage with your content, when otherwise it may be inaccessible.

The Positive Impact of Making your Courses Accessible

User Story: Jason Bohan, Director of Education, School of Psychology

In the move to blended learning, was accessibility a consideration?

Digital inclusivity is important because as educators we must ensure that teaching materials
are accessible by all students. We had to think carefully about this in our swift move to
blended learning and whilst this was stressful for many of us the positive was that it allowed
us to review our teaching materials and question if they were appropriate for online delivery
and inclusive for our students.

What was your approach?

In the School of Psychology our approach to digital inclusivity was to think about the whole
online learning experience and think about how students were going to interact with their
course materials. With this in our minds all our lecturers were pre-recorded and released via
the course VLE on a weekly basis so that student learning was structured and workload
controlled across the term – we didn’t want students swamped by giving them too much in
one go.


Was your approach evidence based?

Pedagogical research suggests that the traditional hour-long lecture is not optimal for
learners because attention and memory systems are limited, so best practice recommends
structuring material into shorter mini lectures. Adopting this evidence-based approach all
my colleagues chose to restructure their lectures and recorded them in to smaller ‘chunks’ -
crucially they kept all the same content and learning objectives, they just presented their
lectures in a way that was better suited for learners in this context.

Have you had any feedback from students?

Student feedback was extremely positive and helped a lot of our students to engage with their
studies because it was less daunting to watch and learn from two or three 15/20 min lecture
compared to an hour-long lecture.

Were you able to provide video captions?

We also ensured that all lectures were captioned, and this benefitted many students who
learn better by having access to a text version. Captioning required a lot of work from staff,
but they took a lot of pride in making sure that they were as accurate as possible. Ensuring
that learning materials are accessible and digitally inclusive is an ongoing process which we
will review on an ongoing basis, but also best done in collaboration with our colleagues in
Student Support and our students to make sure that we offer an inclusive learning
experience.

User Story: Morgiane Richards, Academic Skills Adviser (Maths), CAD

How are learning materials that contain maths produced?

In STEM disciplines, and disciplines where mathematics are used extensively, LaTeX is
widely used to write teaching material. LaTeX produces high-quality advanced mathematical
content; however, it generates PDF documents that cannot be processed correctly by text-to-speech
software.

What options are available to staff creating learning material with
LaTex?

Recommendations are that course material be converted to HTML format, with MathJax to
render the mathematics, a JavaScript library with built-in support for assistive technology.

What is the best way to convert existing learning material?

Some courses have already been fully or partially converted (Dr Matthew Collinson, Natural
and Computing Sciences, Dr Peter Hicks, Engineering). However, there is currently no
technology that can achieve a complete and error-free conversion; therefore, manual
correction is almost always necessary. The School of Natural and Computing Sciences and
CAD have just been awarded a Learning and Teaching Enhancement Project funding to
investigate which conversion method is most efficient for which type of lecture material and
to create guidance for staff. We also aim at documenting the performance of common textto-
speech pieces of software in reading MathJax mathematics.

 

User Story: Ibiere Jumbo, PGR student with a visual impairment

How do you navigate online?

I use a screen reader called Jaws to navigate online systems and my learning material. The
accessibility of MyAberdeen has greatly improved, since I did my masters in 2017, although I
sometimes find StaffNet can be difficult to navigate.

How to you find the accessibility of your learning materials?

I find many PDFs inaccessible, so I usually begin by converting PDFs to Word, as this is
much easier for me to navigate using Jaws.

What aspects are important for teaching staff to be aware of?

The use of heading styles and alternative text for images in documents is important for me –
otherwise the content can be inaccessible. Tables can be really difficult to navigate. Videos
are usually converted into an audio version having background description. This is usually
done separately otherwise it might be too much information for a sighted person.

Further Accessibility Resources

Interested in finding out more about creating accessible content? Please see some resources below.