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Recently in Accessibility Category

Read&Write Gold Tools, Part 3: Study Skills and Research

Read&Write Gold's study skills and research tools include an Online Fact Mapper, Study Skills Highlighters, and a Vocabulary List Builder.

Posted on Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014 | Permalink | No Comments

Read&Write Gold Tools, Part 2: Writing and Self-Editing

Read&Write Gold's writing and self-editing tools include Speech Input, Spelling-Grammar Checker, Verb Checker, Sounds Like and Confusable Words, Word Prediction, and Text-to-Speech.

Posted on Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014 | Permalink | No Comments

Read&Write Gold Tools, Part 1: Reading

Read&Write Gold's reading tools include Text-to-Speech, Speech Maker, PDF Aloud, Screenshot Reader, Online Translator, Dictionary, Picture Dictionary, and Screen Masking.

Posted on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014 | Permalink | No Comments

New Learning Technology Suite Available to UMD Community

UMD students, faculty and staff now have access to Read&Write Gold software, which has the capability to help improve learning for everyone regardless of ability or learning style.

Posted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014 | Permalink | No Comments

Effective January 1: New University Web Accessibility Standard

The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG), level AA, now serve as Web accessibility standards for the University of Minnesota.

Posted on Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 | Permalink | No Comments

Video Captioning

Learn how captioning can help to create a more inclusive environment as well as how to meet UMD captioning requirements with our captioning service.

Posted on Friday, Nov 22, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments

Higher Ed Accessibility Lawsuits

Disability rights organizations and students with disabilities have filed lawsuits against numerous universities and colleges in the recent past.

Posted on Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments

10 Web Accessibility Tips

If you are a Web content author, designer, or developer - pick up some tips to make your work more inclusive to all.

Posted on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments

Accessibility with Apple's VoiceOver

VoiceOver is a type of screen reader built into Apple computer operating systems (OS). It works with Macintosh programs such as Finder, Safari, Mail and TextEdit. In the past people needing a screen reader had been more or less forced to use Windows because of the lack screen readers for the Mac, but now it's built right into the OS.

Apple products typically work the same way for all users including screen reader users. For instance the same gestures that work on an iPhone and iPad work on Mac computers, by using the track pad for navigation. Users don't need to memorize a long list of keyboard commands. This is great for people who have low vision or who are blind.

VoiceOver Demo

In the following video Tommy Edison, blind since birth, demonstrates how he uses VoiceOver on a MacBook Pro to send an email. A transcript of the Video: "How A Blind Person Uses A Computer" is available.

Barriers for Screen Reader Users

Something to be aware of is that screen readers such as VoiceOver don't magically make websites and applications accessible. Web developers, designers and content authors need to take care in their work to allow screen readers users to perceive and understand content as well as operate controls in an equivalent manner to that of individuals who do not have disabilities. The following are among the top obstacles to a person using the Web with a screen reader:

  1. The presence of inaccessible Flash content
  2. CAPTCHA - images presenting text used to verify that you are a human user
  3. Links or buttons that do not make sense
  4. Images with missing or improper descriptions (alt text)
  5. Screens or parts of screens that change unexpectedly
  6. Complex or difficult forms
  7. Lack of keyboard accessibility
  8. Missing or improper headings
  9. Too many links or navigation items
  10. Complex data tables
  11. Inaccessible or missing search functionality
  12. Lack of "skip to main content" or "skip navigation"

Source: WebAIM Screen Reader Survey 4

Providing accessibility increases usability for all people.

Further Information

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 3, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments

Locked Out

Inaccessible websites reduce the quality of life. It's not theory. This is not a hypothetical situation. This is real discrimination occurring every day.

Those words are Dr. Jonathan Lazar's from his February 13, 2013 presentation, Locked Out: Investigating Societal Discrimination against People with Disabilities Due to Inaccessible Websites.

Photo: Locked OutDr. Lazar, a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, at Harvard University begins his presentation with an overview of assistive technology and relevant laws and then shares five research studies, which illuminate how inaccessible sites are barriers. The studies are on the topics of 1) Federal-level web accessibility, 2) State-level web accessibility, 3) emergency alerts, 4) pricing discrimination in airlines, and 5) online applications. He concludes his presentation by explaining that these problems are technically solvable and provides concrete suggestions for improvement including:

Suggestions for Educators

For educators Dr. Lazar states:

We want to focus on improving accessibility by teaching it. By making sure it's part of our curriculum. By training the newest generation of technology folks. And not only that, not only do we have to make sure we're training the future, we have to make sure that the technology infrastructure on our campuses are accessible now for students with disabilities who come to campus. Everything from online applications to apply, to registration systems to register for classes, social networking, your course management systems, you know, like Moodle, Sakai, Blackboard. Not only do you have to make sure that the shell system is accessible, the software, but you have to make sure your content is accessible...And faculty can help push this along. So you can make a difference here.

Suggestions for Government and Policy Makers

For government and policy makers Dr. Lazar states:

We need to make sure that we push government, we push policy makers to make sure that enforcement activities and compliance studies are done on a regular basis. So, we need to make sure also that government agencies use procurement processes wisely. So we need to make sure that money being spent is a lever to improve IT accessibility. And the way to do that is through procurement processes.

Suggestions for Developers and Designers

For developers and designers Dr. Lazar states:

We want to make sure, first of all, developers need better tools. We have to have human inspections. Either people with disabilities or experts reading through the code. So we need better tools, but we also need a better understanding of supporting designers and developers.

Locked Out the Video

The following is the full 48 minute video.

A transcript of the video, Locked Out: Investigating Societal Discrimination against People with Disabilities Due to Inaccessible Websites is available.

Further Information

Posted on Thursday, May 30, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments