Looking back at web accessibility trainings in 2018

The IT accessibility working group started offering trainings for web content creators this past spring.  This fall, we were able to continue that work by holding three additional training sessions between September and November.

Here’s a summary of what the training sessions have accomplished so far:

  • Total sessions in 2018: 10
  • Total attendees: 83, or 50% of our content authors
  • In the group:
    • 10 Directors
    • 11 Associate or Assistant Directors
    • 40+ campus programs represented

If you haven’t come yet, but you want to learn more about web accessibility, fill out the registration form to sign up. We have sessions planned for the spring monthly between January and April, and hope to see you there!

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

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

Web Accessibility at ENGAGE 2018

We hope you enjoyed the second annual ENGAGE! conference on campus this past Tuesday!  Members of the IT accessibility working group gave two presentations, adding to the day’s impressive mix of sessions.

I started off the morning with “Inclusivity Online: Web accessibility skills that anyone can use”.  If you missed it, but still want to develop your skills, you can access the slides here: “Inclusivity Online” Presentation Slides

All told, about 8 members of the community (students and staff) attended all or part of the presentation.  The audience raised some great questions about the limitations of screen readers, and the challenges of learning to use them. We also talked about the effects of anxiety and other mental health conditions online – issues that I hadn’t planned to cover! Although we weren’t able to explore them in depth in the session, I recommend checking out this article on Designing for Cognitive Differences, which covers similar topics.

Later in the morning, Aaron Ferguson, along with a whole group of people (David Paquette, Milo Bezark, the CoSAA signers, and the CORAL Accessibility Squad Members), also gave a presentation on Universal Design. This presentation, “Making “Universal Design” Accessible”, covered accessibility concerns on campus more broadly.  It focused on giving participants “an understanding of how they can advance their own positive impact on accessibility at Hampshire, no matter how large or small.”

Want to learn more?  You can access their materials below!

AccEssentials handout

Conceptology handout

Holistic Learning Toolbox

Updates on our 2018 Web Accessibility Trainings

The IT Accessibility Working Group had a successful spring holding web accessibility training sessions. We were proud to share new developments, answer questions, and extend the conversation around web accessibility with folks from all across campus.  Here is a by-the-numbers breakdown of our milestones:

  • Total sessions in Spring 2018: 7
  • Total attendees: 66, or 40% of our content authors
  • In the group:
    • 8 Directors
    • 9 Associate or Assistant Directors
    • 30+ campus programs represented
  • New sessions scheduled for Fall 2018: 3

If you haven’t come yet, but you want to learn more about web accessibility, fill out our registration form to sign up. We have sessions planned for August, September, and November, and hope to see you there!

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

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

Annotate PDFs Collaboratively Using Google Drive

A few times lately, I’ve had questions from faculty about how to use collaborative annotation tools. “What’s a good way for my students to add and share comments on a reading for class?” is the most common form. Most frequently, the readings in question are PDF documents, which makes this question a little tricky.  Up until now, I had some suggestions to offer (like converting readings to google docs format, or using hypothes.is).  But, sadly, none of these suggestions were very straightforward for students or faculty to use.

But now, (at last!) we’ve reached the end of awkward work-arounds for this question. Since Google Drive’s latest set of updates, it’s easy to highlight and comment on PDFs from within your Google Drive, and you can even see comments left by other users in real time.  Now is a great time to check this new feature out, whether you would like your students to use it in the fall, or if you’re just interested in using it for yourself.

The sequence goes something like this:

  • Upload a PDF to your Google Drive (New>File upload, or click-and-drag the PDF into your Google Drive).
  • Click the PDF to preview it.
  • (Optional) Click the share button in the upper right to add other people, or get a link to share.
  • Click on the annotate icon in the upper right to start adding notes.  Highlight text or illustrations throughout the document to comment on them.

If you’re planning to use this feature with a class or group, there are multiple options for sharing. For just one or two documents, you could add collaborators one-by-one by their Hampshire email addresses. If you’re making the commenting a regular activity, it may be more convenient to create a folder containing all the relevant readings and share that folder with the whole group.  And don’t forget to add the relevant links to your Moodle pages as you design your fall courses!

New to your Hampshire Google Drive: Team Drives

If you’ve logged into your Hampshire Google Drive over the past few days, you may have noticed the new “Team Drives” option hanging out in your right sidebar. You can read up on how Team Drives can make your life easier below, or head over to our instructions for using Team Drives for more information.

File Ownership

While normal files and folders in Google Drive are owned by the person who created them, the files and folders in a Team Drive are owned by the group.  Using Team Drives, you won’t need to worry about transferring the ownership of documents between people if the original owner is no longer around.  

Easier Sharing

When you view your Team Drive, you can immediately see how many members it has displayed in the header, along with the option to manage those members.  The more direct route to these options can make your life easier when working with larger groups.

If you just want to share one file or folder with an individual who isn’t a Team Drive member, you have the flexibility to do that, too.  The steps for sharing in that way are the same for all Google Drive documents.

Clear Organization

Even for constant users of Google Drive, it can sometimes be a challenge to organize and efficiently find your documents.  Team Drives have some advantages in this area, too.  Any Team Drives that you belong to will appear in the left sidebar of your Google Drive.  They also have customizable themes, which allows you to vary up the colors and patterns to better orient yourself.

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.

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.