Global Accessibility Awareness Day meets Higher Ed

May 15, 2014 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. We all have work to do to better understand accessibility in higher education and to design more usable instructional materials for students with disabilities. In support of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I’m hosting a virtual round-up of accessibility activities in higher ed.

On May 15, do something to learn more about accessibility or to improve accessibility on your campus or in your classroom. Share your activities here.

According to GAAD organizers, “The purpose of the day is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities.” And for a little more background, “The target audience of GAAD is the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use.”

If you’re a college prof, you may not consider yourself part of the design, development, usability community and you may not think yourself much of techie who needs to worry about software and such things. (If you do consider yourself a designer, techie, etc.–great! Stick around while I try to persuade everyone else). Even if you feel like your job is not really about usability and technology, consider the documents & tools you use every day in your classroom: pdf files, video lectures, maybe an LMS like Moodle or Canvas. If any of that sounds familiar, you are designing digital content that may present accessibility barriers for students with disabilities. Global Accessibility Awareness Day is for you!

A few ideas for what you could to do to mark the day:

  • Caption a Video: Try Amara or learn about captioning tools for YouTube
  • Visit your institution’s disability services office. Talk with the staff about challenges their students face and how you can make your instructional materials more accessible.
  • Learn about the accessibility of your Learning Management System. For example, here are a few accessibility guidelines from Canvas, the LMS my institution uses.
  • Make an accessible PDF 
  • Try using a screenreader (try NVDA for Windows or VoiceOver for Mac) to navigate your course or institution’s website.
  • Host a brown bag lunch on your campus to talk about accessibility with students, staff and faculty.

These are just a few ideas. I hope you’ll participate in Global Accessibility Awareness Day and join me here to share what you (plan to) do. Add your ideas in the comments. Let’s do this.

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