The Top 10 ‘Quick Wins’ for Improving Accessibility

 

Although there’s lots an ever increasing range of CSU developed resources on this page that make specific reference to Interact2, you may also find this resource (published by Blackboard) to be a useful ‘ready reckoner’ when creating or editing content within Interact2. Ally-QuickStart-2018_05-Checklist

Preparing PDF documents of modules and other subject material provides many benefits for students studying.  When available in this format students do not only benefit from being able to download and save, but assists in providing students with:

  • an alternative format for students who have limited internet
  • a prepared document for ease of printing
  • alternative format for students who may have a condition with reading online, or students who are just fatigued from looking at a computer all day.

The best practice for creating PDF’s of modules is to convert the module content from original WORD documents.  However If these are not available (as may be the case when information is edited directly into Interact2,  the following instructions from DLT will allow you to create a set of PDF resources for your students.

https://cdn.csu.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/2738781/How-to-Print-from-Interact2.pdf

It is worth noting that once a student accesses the PDF of a module, you will be losing some of the analytics functionality inherent in the storing and presentation of materials in the Interact2 environment. Put another way, if students are provided with the PDF content of the entire subject upfront, their need to engage with other features of the Interact2 subject site such as discussion forums may be lessened. Your ability to collect information such as ‘content accesses’ will become problematic. As such, some thought needs to given to how and when these materials are provided, and these decisions taken in light of the overall learning design approach within the subject.

Captioning is not only important for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, but anyone who prefers to view media with limited or no noise due to their personal preferences or due to their immediate environment i.e. in the library, on public transport or in an office environment.  It can also assist where the spoken dialogue in the video may not be the listener’s or speaker’s first native language and it can help to clarify terminology and assists to improve overall comprehension.  Furthermore, once captions have been created, videos can be searched using SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

The most common types of captioning are:

  • Automatic captions – these are automatically generated using speech recognition technology eg. YouTube or Panopto. These are around 60 – 70% accurate and it is important to note that editing of these captions is therefore frequently required (if you are the owner of the video and have editor/admin rights for the video on that platform)
  • Manually created closed captions – correctly transcribed text as well as other descriptive sounds eg. background noises or other audio cues, usually 99% accurate
  • Word transcription – this is when the sound (such as the lecturer’s presentation) within a video is instead converted to written record which can be used as as stand alone artefact (or in conjunction with the original media

Best Practices for creating quality captions

  • Use Sans Serif fonts ( Arial, Verdana or Calibri)
  • No more than two lines of text on screen
  • White text with black outline or background
  • For multiple speakers, consider using names to identify e.g.
    (Lecturer) What do you think?
    (Student) I think this is great
  • Ensure captions are synchronised with spoken words

Automatic Creation of Captions for Audio/Video content

There are several ways in which captions can be created automatically, and these can give the overall process of providing accessible resources greater efficiency. The most relevant platforms for doing this are listed below. There are however some aspects which must be kept in mind. Firstly, the accuracy of speech to text recognition of platforms such as youtube can be as low as 60% to as high as 90% and this accuracy can be impacted by aspects such as ambient noise, speaker’s tone/pitch/pace, quality of recording equipment, accents and subject matter. Although Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning approaches are rapidly impacting upon and improving automated speech recognition, you need to be prepared to review and possibly edit captions in the videos you’ve created. If you’re embedding youtube videos into your Interact2 site which don’t belong to you, encouraging students to turn on the closed captions is and providing written module commentary on the video is a good starting point, however if the resource is critical you may need to investigate additional measures to ensure accessibility and equity is maintained.

Including and editing captions for CSU Replay (Panopto)

https://support.panopto.com/s/article/ASR-Generated-Captions

YouTube Editor

YouTube Editor gives you the choice of generating automatic captions, uploading a transcript file or creating your own captions.  Once an account has been created, an MP4 can be uploaded, edited and then published.

Using Dragon Naturally Speaking software

Dragon speech recognition software can be used to create captions in YouTube or a Word document and in other software players.  The video is played through dictation headphones and then spoken aloud, creating a speech to text transcription.  Platforms such as YouTube will then set the timings to automatically line up with the text.

Word Transcriptions 

Many students prefer a Word transcription of audio material. So rather than captions being included within the original media (such as video with captions), the content is provided as a written transcription in a Word document. This is also beneficial for persons using screen readers, highlighting important details or to print out a hard copy.  Express Scribe transcription software player is available to download for free, it can also be used with a supported foot pedal to increase typing productivity.

Adobe Connect Meetings

Live captioning can be carried out for Adobe Connect meeting using the services of a Captioner/Stenographer or other Captioning Service, eg. AI Media.  To prepare captions of recorded meetings an offline MP4 recording is required and academics can prepare these by following a few simple instructions. Follow this link for creating Adobe Connect offline MP4 recordings.

Note:  The Disability Service is able to provide specialised transcription for students registered with the service.  Contact CSU Disability Service

 

Although quite an ‘old technology’ the ubiquitous nature of PowerPoint Presentations means that thoughtful design from an accessibility perspective can greatly enhance the student experience of subject content. Here’s a list of easy to utilise hints and tips that will help improve the accessibility of your presentations.

Font

Sans Serif fonts should be used for text and headings.  Below are a few examples:

  • Arial
  • Verdana
  • Tahoma
  • Century Gothic
  • Calibri

Font Size

  • Headings 32 points or larger
  • Subheadings 30 points or larger
  • Text 24 – 28 points or larger

To Enhance Text

  • Bold text
  • Underline
  • Quotations
  • Sufficient white space

Backgrounds & Text

  • Every slide should have a unique title
  • Slide Layout should be simple – minimise bullets, try not to use columns
  • Use simple table structure – specify column header, don’t contain merged/split cells, nested tables
  • Use high contrast colour schemes
  • Keep it simple, preferably one colour or two colour gradients:
    • white and pastel
    • two pastel colours which are adjacent on the colour wheel
  • Avoid grey background or grey text
  • Avoid shadowed text
  • Avoid blue backgrounds
  • Use built-in slide designs for inclusive reading order

Animations & Graphics

  • Images, tables, graphs and data visualisations are not accessible with screen readers. Add an alternative text to each visual
  • Avoid excess animation, flashing images, strobing or rapidly moving images
  • Limit animations – preferably no animations or transitions as screen readers do not read these
  • Avoid low contrast and grey scale graphics
  • If adding a narrated voice to each slide, turn off automatic transitioning

Other General Accessibility Best Practices

  • If a PDF format is required for students, save the PPT to an accessible PDF
  • Create PowerPoint in outline view. Outline view displays what is read by a screen reader
  • Hyperlinks should be meaningful – name or briefly describe link destination
  • Check external content for accessibility
  • Provide audio transcription – could be provided in notes section
  • Use the built-in accessibility checker in Microsoft Office products
  • For additional accessibility checking, use a screen reader

Podcasts are increasingly utilised by academics and tutors to engage their students in both direct subject learning as well as broader areas relating to a field or discipline. As such, it’s vital to ensure that you’re presenting these materials in the best possible way for students. As podcasting is an audio medium, the success of your production relies on a sufficient level of audio quality which is beneficial to all students, but particularly for those students who may have a hearing issue, especially in relation to audio acuity (i.e. the ability to focus on or distinguish between multiple sounds presented simultaneously). Although some of the tips might seem like a departure from normal podcast approaches, remember the aim here is to create podcasts that are more accessible for students and provide better input to the range of technologies that create transcripts among other assistive technologies.
There are a number of simple and ‘common sense’ tips which you can utilise to ensure that you’re creating podcasts and audio resources for students, many of which simply utilise standard type CSU equipment.

  • Read from a script (before you record), or if the podcast is conversational (or there is more than one guest or presenter), ensure that you’re clear on the main points you want to hit throughout the piece.
  • Use a headset or desk microphone (or if using a smart phone, utilise an audio recording input device).
  • Minimise background noise – start recording when you speak, remove jewellery, avoid shuffling paper.
  • Test the volume of the microphone before recording.
  • Include visual information in the audio. Ensure all relevant audio information is included in the recording.
  • If referring to an item on a slide, say the content of the item in the recording. Instead of saying, “as you can see on this slide, the results peaked here”, say, “this analysis chart for the last year shows that it peaked in July.”
  • Repeat questions that are not picked up by the recording.
  • Prepare a transcription of the podcast (after the recording).
  • Provide a link to the transcription.
  • Consider closed captioning as well as a transcript for vodcasts. Panopto has a feature to create captioning.
  • Indicate a change in speakers.
  • Ensure there are options to start, stop, pause, or adjust the volume for action by a mouse and a keyboard.
  • For pre-existing podcasts, consider preparing transcriptions by utilising a voice recognition program (eg. Dragon Naturally Speaking or Windows or Mac Speech Recognition) to convert the audio to text. This method is effective if you are the only speaker.

Of course, some people have access to equipment well beyond the minimum- the aim here is to ensure a base level of quality for the sake of accessibility. Although there are many ways to capture audio – especially via smartphones, this guide is based primarily on the creation of audio files from CSU equipment.

How to Make Offline (Accessible) Recordings

 Adobe Connect meetings are saved in flash format (.flv) which has limitations for:

  • Students with iOS devices unable to play .flv files (unless they have a flash enabled browser)
  • Students who wish to watch the recording in chunks or offline
  • Preparation of audio transcripts/captions

As a host, you are able to make an offline version to download to a computer, or make available to students.  The offline version can be uploaded to CSU Replay to publish in Interact or the file made available to download as an MP4 version. The following article provides academics with an easy to utilise set of instructions which can dramatically improve the time taken to provide students with Word transcriptions of Adobe Connect meetings.

Access Adobe Connect Central

Currently there are two ways hosts can gain access to the backend of Adobe Connect Central to download recordings as an MP4.  They are:

  • Their online meeting room
  • Within Adobe Connect Central

From the online meeting room

  1. Open the Adobe Connect room
  2. In Meeting Menu, select Manage Meeting Information
    This takes Hosts into Adobe Connect Central

From within a meeting room in Adobe Connect Central

  1. Log on to Adobe Connect Central at CSU Adobe Connect page with your Adobe Connect username and Adobe Connect password
  2. Click Host Tab
  3. Hover mouse over the room name, and select Edit
    The details for the meeting room are displayed

Make a Recording in MP4 Format

  1. Go to Recordings Tab
  2. Find the recording to be made into an offline recording
  3. Under Actions, select Make Offline
    The Offline Recording window will open
  4. This image shows what the offline recording dialogue box contains
    offline recording dialogue box

 

Offline Recording dialog box

It is important to follow the recommendations:

  • Creating an offline recording is done in real time. That is, it takes the same amount of time as the duration of the meeting.
  • Hosts should save the play back recording to a local drive and not to a network share location.
  • Set the screen resolution high enough to include all activities that occurred in the original meeting
  • Avoid network or system intensive activities such as installing software or downloading files during the recording process
  • Disable screen savers and monitor power settings before proceeding

 

  1. Click Next

Offline recording dialogue box which shows the settings a user should utilise
Offline recording dialogue box

Offline Recording settings dialog box

  1. Format: select MP4 format (recommended)
  2. Video Quality: Mobile, Desktop, High Definition, Full High Definition
    The higher the resolution, the larger the output file
    The default is HD
  3. Click Proceed with Offline Recording
  4. Save the file with a meaningful name to a hard drive location on your computer
    Saving to a server will take longer and it could crash
  5. The recording will play in real time. On the bottom right hand side the duration of the recording will show.
    Reduce the volume and minimize the window to continue with other work.

 

Long recordings can be broken into shorter sections: 

  • Pause/Resume will temporarily stop the recording.
  • Stop and save ends the creation of a recording.
  • Start New creates a new file from where you left off.
  1. When you are finished with the recording, click Stop Saving

Recording Summary dialog box

Recording Summary Dialogue box
Recording Summary Dialogue box
  1. Click OK to finish.

    The recording/s can be located in the location specified as an MP4 file.