Ally’s latest update will now show in-browser previews for PDF’s, Word documents, and Powerpoint presentations.
What does this mean?
Previously, when you clicked on the Ally gauge to view your document’s accessibility score and list of any accessibility issues, you only saw an icon for the document in the main window. Now, Ally will allow you to view your document right in the browser and highlight where the specific accessibility issues are. No more guessing.
Highlights are currently provided for:
Images without an appropriate alternative description
Text fragments with insufficient contrast
Tables without table headings
It’s now much easier to identify the issue and then fix it. View the video below to see it in action. (Note: the video does not have any sound.)
Kaltura Media has the ability to automatically add captions to your video content using automatic speech recognition (ASR). When a video is uploaded, the ASR processes begins immediately. Captions are created based on the audio track and the content is assumed to be in English.
Why are captions important?
Accurate captioning of audio and video content ensures that people who are Deaf and hard of hearing can understand the content. Additionally, captions are very useful to non-native English speakers, viewers watching in a sound-sensitive environment such as a library, can help viewers with learning disabilities or attention deficits maintain concentration. and can help all learners improve comprehension.
How are captions created?
All videos created after August 6, 2018 will be auto-captioned. This means that once you create your video or upload your video to Kaltura, ASR captions will be automatically ordered and applied to your video. The process may take several minutes to several hours, depending on the length of your video.
How accurate are ASR captions?
ASR captions are only 80% accurate and accuracy may vary depending on the audio quality, clarity of speech, background noise, etc.
While 80% accuracy may seem pretty decent, please keep in mind that this means that, in general:
1 in 5 words will be incorrect
An 8-word sentence will be about 17% accurate
A 10-word sentence will be about 11% accurate
How do I improve the accuracy of my captions?
While ASR captions are a step forward for accessibility, we recommend editing them for accuracy. You can edit your captions right in your web browser – no additional software is needed! For more information and detailed instructions, see Review and Edit Captions.
Faculty often ask if Blackboard is accessible. While most web-based tools can always be more accessible and easier to use, the basic answer is “Yes, Blackboard is accessible.” The real problem often comes when we upload files and documents to Blackboard that may not be as accessible as they should be. We may not even be aware that the files we uploaded aren’t accessible to students with impairments. Blackboard Ally wants to fix that.
When an instructor uploads a file to myLesley (Blackboard), using the exact same process they currently use, Ally compares the file to a Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Checklist. It then does three things.
For students, Ally automatically converts that file into alternative, accessible formats. Alternative formats include Tagged PDF, HTML, ePub, electronic braille and audio. If the instructor uploads a scanned chapter or article, Ally will convert it to an OCR PDF which can be read as text by a screen reader.
This a proactive and automatic process that happens without the instructor or Disability Services doing anything. Students do not need to self-identify or request alternative versions. The downside is that the quality of these alternative versions can vary. The more complex the original document, the more difficult it is to create a converted document that is useful and easy to navigate by the students who need them.
Therefore Ally also provides guidance to faculty on how to improve the accessibility of the documents uploaded to Blackboard. Each uploaded document receives an accessibility score and red, orange or green icon. Clicking on the icon presents you with information on what accessibility issues are in the document, information on why it is an issue, and links to tutorials on how to make changes to the document.
Ally has let you, the instructor, know that your documents may not be accessible and how to improve their accessibility without the need to attend a training or to have Disability Services reach out to you. You can slowly educate yourself on accessibility and improve not just the documents that are currently in your course, but also all future documents you will create. Over time, you will simply create accessible documents from the beginning because now you know how and how easy it can be.
Lastly, Ally provides an Institutional Report telling the university which courses have inaccessible content and what kinds of content are problematic. This means that the university can target its outreach and training based on our specific issues. One program may have a lot of courses with images and no alternative descriptions. Another’s biggest issue may be that Word documents require headings and subheadings. Instead of offering generic training and support for everyone, we can now reach out to each program and offer training and assistance for the issues they actually are having. The report also allows us to demonstrate our improvement over time.
Ally will be available to all myLesley courses beginning this Fall. Keep an eye out for those accessibility scores on your documents. Ally is also making continuous improvements so don’t be surprised when new features and guidance become available.
If you have questions about Ally or need assistance, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
An accessible document is one that allows individuals with various accessibility issues, such as those who are blind or hearing impaired, the ability to access the document and receive the same information as someone who does not have accessibility issues.
What are the benefits of making my syllabus accessible?
Having an accessible syllabus ensures that each of your students is able to access the content, regardless of accessibility issues. Often, the changes benefit all of your students, not just those with impairments.
Sounds great! How do I create one?
Hoonuit has a new online training series for creating an accessible syllabus. This tutorial will guide you through how to format, check, and convert your document in order to make your document accessible. While the training is for creating an accessible syllabus, you may transfer these skills to any type of document.
The latest version of Microsoft Word (Microsoft Word 2016) will allow you to create a fully accessible document. You should be able to print your document to PDF and the resulting PDF should be fully accessible. If you are using an older version of Microsoft Office, you can still create an accessible document, but the resulting PDF may not be fully accessible. In this case, you will want to upload the Word document.
Join us Thursday, March 31, 12:00 noon for an online lunch and learn about web accessibility. Get up to speed with your colleagues on one the most important topics in online education today.
This one-hour webinar will walk through small and simple adjustments that improve the accessibility and usability of our courses. You’ll hear about proactive changes you can make that not only help reduce barriers to learning for those who struggle, but can also create better learning experiences for all students.
Led by members of eLIS, this practical session will cover the most-discussed topics identified as accessibility obstacles (links, images, documents/PDFs, content organization, videos) and provide accompanying tutorials demonstrating the simple ways we can increase accessibility.