Robobraille File Conversion is Better Than Ever

Some key updates to RoboBraille tool make converting files into accessible formats even easier than before.

What is RoboBraille?

RoboBraille is a service that can convert a range of different files (PDFs, JPGs, Word Documents, etc.) into accessible formats.  It can recognize the text in scanned images of textbooks or articles, transform PDFs into editable Microsoft Word files, or even produce an MP3 sound file from the text of a document – these are only a few examples of the many possibilities.  You can watch a short video introduction here, or check out the matrix of conversion possibilities to see your options.

RoboBraille is available for all members of the Hampshire community – students, faculty, and staff – to convert documents.  We encourage faculty to use it when they create their course materials, and students can use it as a study tool, if they prefer to read in a particular format or listen to their assignments.

New features, you say?

The updated RoboBraille service now allows for batch processing, so you if you have multiple files to convert, you can upload them all at once. As you might imagine, this makes the experience much more streamlined. (If you’re submitting multiple files at once, they all have to be the same format, though.) The size limit for file uploads has also doubled from 32MB to 64MB.

How to get started?

Visit the new link to RoboBraille and submit your files using the form.  Once your files have been converted, you’ll receive them in their new form via email.

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Learning Web Accessibility on Campus

Back at the beginning of March, the web accessibility working group let you know about our plan to offer web accessibility training sessions for content creators on College websites.  Since then, we’ve held three packed sessions and welcomed individuals from all across campus.  So far this year, we’ve trained more than 30 people in web accessibility – about 20 percent of content creators who work on Hampshire sites.

We have seen faculty, staff and students, belonging to more than a dozen departments (communications, admissions, CASA, IT, OPRA, the library, you name it!).  We have also heard and addressed great questions each time, about the ways that accessibility concepts relate to site design, multimedia content like videos, and use of social media.

We’re proud of all the folks on campus who’ve stepped up to be part of this push to make Hampshire’s online presence more accessible to all.  In such a short time, we’ve made substantial progress towards creating a community of knowledgable, aware individuals working together towards this important goal.

If you haven’t come yet, register to attend a training session.

Want to get a better idea of what’s involved? Preview the training session agenda (Hampshire login required), or read through our web accessibility standards and resources.

Did you already attend a session?  Want to share your accessibility story or ask a question? Let us know by emailing itaccessibility@hampshire.edu.

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Web Accessibility Workshops

The IT Accessibility Working Group is excited to host web accessibility training sessions during spring break and into the future. We’re reaching out to content authors across campus who maintain content on one or more of Hampshire’s web platforms – like the Hampshire website, a departmental blog, or even the student handbook. It’s critical that our content authors have the tools and knowledge to make their content accessible to all potential readers. Web accessibility training will be required for all content creators to attend over the coming months and into the future.

Our training session will:

  • walk folks through some background information on disability
  • demonstrate assistive software used by readers with visual impairments, and
  • explain the strategies, guidelines, policies we follow to keep our web content accessible.

The training lasts about 90 minutes and will include light snacks. After the session, content authors will be equipped with a toolbox of simple steps they can take when editing College websites.

Content authors: register to attend a training session.

Want to know more?  Have a look at our Accessible Information Technology page, our official IT Accessibility Policy, or let us know your questions by emailing itaccessibility@hampshire.edu.

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Got Backup?

How devastated would you be if your computer died right now, with no possibility of getting your data off of it? Hard drives and even solid state drives (SSD’s) fail. If you don’t back up your data on a regular basis, make it a priority to get a backup system in place.

If you’ve experienced a data loss due to drive failure, chances are that you’ve got a backup system in place. If you haven’t experienced a data loss, don’t worry, you’ll be a member of the club some day–unless you’re backing up your data on a regular basis.

These days a backup system is pretty painless–you can either back up to an external drive on an automatic basis (Time Machine for Mac or Windows Backup for Windows), or sign up for an online backup system such as Carbonite.

Backup drives are pretty cheap: you can get a terabyte drive for about $60. To make sure you buy one large enough, look at how much space you’re currently using on your computer and buy a drive that holds at least three times that. Once you have a backup plan in place, make sure you use it on a regular basis.

We have backup drives available for purchase through a departmental charge and are happy to help. A 1 Terabyte backup drive (sufficient for the vast majority of users) is $60 and a 2 Terabyte backup drive is $80, and a 3 Terabyte backup is $100. To buy one of these drives contact the IT Helpdesk, give us a departmental charge number, and you can stop by and pick up your drive. If you’d like assistance setting up a backup drive and starting the backup, make an appointment with an IT Tech through the IT Helpdesk at helpdesk@hampshire.edu.

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Website Editors: New Resources Designed for You

The Accessible Information Technology Working Group has updated our resources for writing on the web. Available from the Accessible Information Technology web page, they can help you ensure that the web pages you create are equally available to visitors with a range of abilities and experiences. If you make changes to pages on www.hampshire.edu, or create posts for any College site, these resources are recommended reading.

Questions? Want to learn more? Get in touch with us at itaccessibility@hampshire.edu.

Resource #1: Web Accessibility Tips for Content Authors

Whether you update parts of the main website, add information to a departmental blog, or create Intranet announcements, that makes you a content author. Basic web accessibility doesn’t need to be difficult, and you can brush up your knowledge with these straightforward tips. The information is also downloadable as a PDF checklist for easy reference.

Resource #2: Creating Accessible PDFs Instructions

PDFs can be a polished way to deliver downloadable information, and they’re frequently found attached to web pages. However, it takes a little more time and care to make them accessible to everyone. You can use these Creating Accessible PDF instructions to guide yourself through that process. Whether you’re starting with a Word Document or scanning an article for students, these instructions have got you covered.

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Clean up that Inbox

Start out the new year with an empty inbox and a fresh quota by moving your old messages into Local Folders in Thunderbird. It’s quick & easy, and it’s so nice not to be looking at 3,000 messages in the inbox!
Email is usually stored on the mail server, which provides secure storage and regular backups, but also has limited storage space–you have a quota of 2.5 GB for email. We suggest that at least once a year you archive old messages into folders that are on your computer, which both declutters your inbox and frees up quota space.
There are a few things to consider before you do this

  • Messages that are archived in Local Folders are only available on the computer they are stored on. If there are messages that you need to access from multiple devices, don’t store them in Local Folders.
  • If you don’t have a backup plan for your computer and your hard drive fails you will lose the messages in Local Folders (along with all the other files on your computer).
  • Local Folders should not be used if your email contains highly sensitive information (see our policy for a description of Level III data) unless your computer is encrypted. If you’re not sure whether it’s encrypted, it probably isn’t.
  • If you use another mail client, like Apple Mail, there is a similar capability, but the terminology and steps will be different. We may be able to help you with this if you can’t figure it out.
  • If you use only WebMail to access your email but still want to use this technique, you could set up Thunderbird just to use as an archival tool. We can help with that.

These instructions are for copying a year’s worth of messages into one folder, but there’s no reason you can’t chunk it into a different time period if you like.

  1. In Thunderbird, click on “Local Folders” in the pane on the left.
  2. From the File Menu select “New Folder.”
  3. Give the folder a name. It’s a good idea to put the year at the beginning of the name, like “2017 Inbox”.
  4. Under “Create as a subfolder of” it should say “Local Folders.”
  5. Click “Create Folder.”
  6. Go up to your inbox, and find the first message from 2017 (or whatever year you’re dealing with), and select it.
  7. Scroll to the last message of 2017, and hold down the shift key while you click on it. You should see the messages in between all highlighted”
  8. From the Message menu select “Move To Local Folders”, and select the folder you just created.
  9. Thunderbird will begin moving the messages. There is a status pane at the bottom of the menu that will report the progress, but you can continue to work on your computer while it does it’s thing.

You can use a similar procedure with the messages in your Sent folder–there are often more messages in Sent than in Inbox because we don’t look at it as often.

There, doesn’t that feel better? Now, if only there were Local Folders for my office…

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