The Top 10 ‘Quick Wins’ for Improving Accessibility

 

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.

ADOBE CONNECT

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

Hosts 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.

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 their 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. offline recording dialogue box
    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
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.