Information Technology Systems and Services.

infotech.NEWS

Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students


Subscribe to Blog via Email


Recently in Tech Tip Category

Improve Accessibility: Google Documents

Google Documents lack key accessibility functionality and should be used with caution as the software currently is not inclusive to all people. However, some methods exist for you to improve its accessibility.


Posted on Friday, Apr 17, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments


Improve Accessibility: Think Before You Link

A link that only says "Click Here" or anything else that is very generic such as "follow this link" or "more information" is difficult for some people to use because there's no specific content in that link nor a clear sense of its actual destination. To improve it use meaningful link text. It should describe the result of the user action, not describe the user action.


Posted on Monday, Feb 23, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments


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


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


Avoid a Big Oops. Stop - Review - Send!

Barb Montgomery, Information Security Twin Cities, provides good security advice in her September 3, 2013, message to IT@UMN. It reads as follows:

Emailing the wrong information to the wrong people is a preventable security issue that happens more frequently when we are rushed or fatigued.

As a reminder, closely review every email before you click send:

  • Verify the content of your message.
  • Verify the addresses are who you intended and not a similar name.
  • Check for attachments.
  • Open any attachments and verify the content is for the intended audience.

We encourage you to share this good practice with students, faculty and staff.


Posted on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments


Faculty Evaluations

As you might have noticed fall semester, evaluation results returned looked different than they have in the past. ITSS is using a new scanning program to process the evaluations. Using this new software, Remark, has allowed us to process evaluations three times faster and produce better reports with better graphics.

Because student evaluations forms are used for tenure, promotion and salary decisions and to review and improve teaching, we feel that it is essential to give you the most accurate results possible. While the forms remain the same for this semester, there are some things that we need done to make the scanning process of these forms run smoothly and accurately.

  • Accurate course call numbers need to be on the cover sheet.
  • Use pencil as the scanner cannot read pen.
  • Only one answer is allowed per question; multiple answers are considered "blank".
  • No stray marks can be on the form except in the provided spaces.
  • Duplicate report requests need to come from faculty.
  • Course call number is needed along with an EFS budget string to charge.
  • Do not retain a stock pile of evaluations because the form will change slightly with our spring order.

In the past it was acceptable to put a "made up" number in the course call number, however, this is no longer the case. We need the courses legitimate course call number on the cover sheet. You can look up a course call number in many ways. Typically the easiest method is by going to the course search page.

Illustration: Course Number

Posted on Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments


Self-Service Internet Password Reset

Faculty and staff can now use the self-service online password reset system. To set this for your University Internet account, visit the Internet Account Options page, select "Set self-service password change secrets" and complete the security questions.

If you forget your password, you can reset it yourself by selecting the "troubleshooting steps" link in the Forgot your ID or Password section on any sign-in page. If you have previously enrolled in the Self Service Password program, you will be prompted with your security questions. After correctly answering your security questions, you will have the opportunity to reset your password.

Of course, you can also always call the ITSS Help Desk at 726-8847 for assistance.


Posted on Monday, Mar 4, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments


Chrome Extension May Help Improve Google Docs Accessibility

A new Read&Write extension for Google's Chrome browser may be useful to some people with print disabilities, especially those with learning disabilities (cognitive) disorders. It may also be a tool for people who need a little extra help with their writing. This article documents its features, limitations, where to download it, and how to use it.

Extension Features

The Read&Write extension provides some of the basic features of desktop Read&Write software created by TextHelp. It allows a user to have anything typed in a Google document read to them. Sometimes everyone can benefit from hearing what a piece of writing sounds like when read aloud. Features that are available include:

  • Text-to-Speech Reading Aloud
  • Color Highlighting
  • Talking Dictionary
  • Picture Dictionary
  • Capture Highlights
  • Vocabulary Tool
  • Study Skills Tools to Capture Google Highlights

The following video by Texthelp explains its features. A transcript of Texthelp's video is available.

Extension Limitations

The extension is only functional within Google Docs while using a Chrome browser. The ongoing battle in the accessibility community is Chrome-only solutions vs. other assistive technologies. Google's ecosystem is designing functionality for Chrome. It will not function with mainstream assistive technology (AT) used by the larger screen reader community i.e., JAWS, WindowEyes, or NVDA in combination with Internet Explorer and Firefox. In preliminary testing this extension has not been found to be keyboard accessible. Users with disabilities may be unable to use a mouse or other pointing device and require keyboard shortcuts. It does not remove all Google Apps accessibility barriers.

Where to Get It

Icon: Google Web StoreYou can download the Read&Write extension from the Chrome Web store.

How to Use It

In the following video Karen Janowski demonstrates how to set up and use the Read&Write Chrome extension. A transcript of Karen's demo is available.

Further Information


Posted on Saturday, Mar 2, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments