Designing Accessible Learning Adventures: Dive In!


Uncover accessible learning strategies with our webinar! Learn from experts at Instructure and Utah State University on flexible course delivery, integrating accessibility, and effective content creation. Discover key design elements for engagement and retention and gain actionable insights.

Video Transcript
Everyone, and thank you for joining today's webinar, designing accessible learning adventures, dive in. I'd like to start by thanking today's sponsor and structure. Instructuring is an is an educational technology organization dedicated to elevating the success of all learners, amplifying the power of education and inspiring everyone to learn other. I'm Jess Thompson, content manager for learning and development at ATD, and I will be your moderator for today. I'm very pleased to introduce today's presenters. Ryan Lufkin is a VP of global economic strategy and instructor.

He's spent more than twenty years working with educational institutions to build their ed tech ecosystems from enterprise resource planning and curriculum design to mobile engagement and learning management software. Christopher Phillips is a digital accessibility coordinator at Utah State University where he leads strategic initiatives and policy efforts to support and encourage accessible online experiences across campus. He has more than twenty years of experience working directly with learners with disabilities and helping organizations to implement inclusive practices focused on meeting the needs of all users. We have an exciting and informative presentation lined up for you today. Please be sure to share your great comments and questions in the that.

And now without further ado, Ryan and Christopher. Thank you, Jess, and thanks, Dylan. Appreciate you teeing that up for us. Let me go ahead and share my screen. Excellent.

So as Jeff said, we're gonna talk about designing accessible learning experiences. So, This is this is something that I've spent a lot of time on, but I'm incredibly excited to be joined by Christopher who really is, takes us to the next level and his his depth of knowledge is gonna be incredibly interesting for all of us today. So, through our process today, we're gonna actually, talk about accessibility. What is it kind of that high level experience. We're gonna talk a little bit about the learner UX and what that means.

And then what do we do now? Practical, ideas for implementing accessibility, and then talk a little bit about mobile and how that's impacted by our accessibility efforts. So, when we start looking at accessibility, within higher education, specifically, we're governed by, the US Department of Education, the individuals, the individuals with Disabilities Education Act. But there's a standard WICAGAG, the web content accessibility guidelines that's now in its two point two version that actually outlines, the requirements for learning software and, software being used by students. In North America. So we're in in the US.

There are regional guidelines, across the globe for what are required for students. These are the the US standards, but even if you're not within the education system, they actually provide a very, Chapaling guideline, best practices for what accessibility standards you need to meet as you are, designing courses for accessibility, making sure students of all types can access those things. But I'm gonna pass it off to Christopher here a little bit and have him, talk through beyond the standards, kind of, what goes into designing for accessibility. And thank you, Ryan. I don't know what, background, any of you or all of you have when it comes to accessibility, but sometimes it can come with a little bit of baggage.

Right? Maybe, you you've dealt with a a lawsuit even potentially or or had someone come and ask you to do something around accessibility that maybe you felt limited, in in in how you could design something or or kinda just maybe approach the topic from a a compliance perspective or just even be nervous or a little bit fearful about what what is this accessibility thing? You know, how how do I make sure everything I do works for everybody in all these different situations. It can feel a little bit overwhelming. If if if that's where you're at, that's okay. But take a deep breath with us. And as we look at to this next slide here, we really wanna talk to about accessibility to today from a different perspective.

Really thinking about just what can we do to make our the content that we develop as instructional designers just more helpful and welcoming to as many learners as possible. You know, one term that is used sometime is this idea of inclusive design or universal design, how can we consider maybe the needs of of learners the margins, in ways that we can build and design for them that's gonna impact, all learners, regardless of where they're coming from, what their background or experiences or what their their learning preferences are. And so so just kind of maybe think about it from that. Maybe hopefully a different, more positive perspective. And I wanna start with this idea of a curb cut.

Curp cuts initially they used to didn't exist. You would just have a sidewalk and it would kind of meet a road. But there was some some federal legislation that required curb cuts to be put in, for accessibility purposes, you know, someone with a, maybe a wheelchair or or might use a a walking device who who, it needed curb cuts to get from a road up onto a sidewalk. And when they first, kind of required a lot of complaining. Right? People re were frustrated about the cost.

Have to, you know, to saw through a a a sidewalk. That's a big deal. Right? Before we could build it into sidewalks kind of a thing. And and people would complain, why do we even need this? You know, who is this gonna help? But to to pause and kind of as an idea as we get into this, would love just to kind of get some responses in the chat aside from accessibility, you know, maybe someone with a who's a wheelchair user or or needs it for mobility, what other value can a curb cut have? If any of you look outside your window, you know, or walk around, whatever your local town is, Good. Thank you.

DJ is throwing it up. I love it. I'm just gonna read out some of these as they come in good cycling. People with strollers. Good.

Just the the yellow bumps there, make it so you don't slip as much when you're going down that little incline, traction, winter, drainage, carts, elderly, transportation, moving up. Good. You guys can keep up with this. It's more than I can read here small children moving, I love it. You know, and really, for all of us, if we live long enough, some point, you'll come to appreciate curb cuts more than later.

Right? I mean, even just that six inches can be a big deal, avoid tripping good. We can kind of go. And we will, just as they look at that, be sharing this presentation afterwards. Good. Some great answers, everybody.

And so you can really see this with its example of curb cuts. If you go to that next slide, that, besides just, you know, being important for accessibility, that you have so much value for so many different people in in in many different situations. Anything with wheels, just a lot of different, you know, scenarios where curb cuts be are are are helpful and useful. And and really essential for things we do much so that, you know, even if curb cuts, go ahead and go to that one more slide, weren't required by law. We we would probably still just build them because they're just helpful to everyone.

And that's kinda how we wanna approach accessibility today. I mean, recognize that there are, laws that exist, there are there are standards and requirements. But really, there's so much traction you can get from just doing this because it makes for a better learning experience for everyone. On this next slide, I wanna take this curb cut metaphor into the digital realm a little bit as we think about, videos. Almost all instruction, all of you have had experience with with videos in in one realm or another, and video content for learning with video content, captions on videos are are a kind of a a metaphor where I wanna talk about the curb cuts where they're absolutely essential to learners who are deaf or hard of hearing.

For those learners, if you don't have captions on your videos, it there's just no point or value to them often. Right? I mean, she's not gonna do any good. And initially, that was kind of a big part of of kind of how captions came about, you know, started and and were required in a lot of different environments. But again, would just ask, for some responses in the chat there, And if we were in a room, I'd ask to raise of hands. It's usually more than half of you, but but what other situations are when are captions helpful or what learners are they helpful for? Good.

I'm just gonna again read some of these out. If you're in a noisy location, you're trying to watch a video, maybe the speaker has an accent, and and you just need some help understanding them a little bit, low volume watching when your spouse is sleeping. Right? I mean, I think captions have probably saved a a lot of marriages. V visual learners, I love that. And there's actually a a a growing body of research that people if you're reading captions while you're listening to the captions, It just gets that content deeper into your noggin.

You just learn it better. You know, because for my my daughter is nineteen, and she would much watch a video with captions on. Whether it's on TV, whether it's a show on her phone. It's kind of a trend among the younger younger generation. Yeah.

No. I'll throw a little link in there that just kinda goes over some of those benefits of captions just as a a resource in case. It's fascinating that the research I mean, older generation definitely use captions as as you lose your hearing. They become more essential. But boy, gen z, young kids love captions.

I think one study, eighty seven percent of of of of young adults have captions on most of the time type of a thing. It's so good. Just just preference there's a lot of things right now. Good. Somebody has them on it right here in this training.

We'll just mention that, yeah, right here in Zoom, you can turn on If you don't have them turned on, you can turn on those automatic captions and have them be used. And you can see a lot of those, reasons there. I really love that. And So the other one that you can kind of see on this slide here that's more and more common, a lot of video players, including YouTube, for example, if you have a caption for a video, they offer this interactive transfer feature, where, especially for a longer lecture or or video, for example, a student may come in and say, when did the teacher talk about atmosphere? You can see right there on the do a search for the word atmosphere. Click on that, and boom, it'll go right to that part of the video.

So just super functional, a lot of value and utility for captions as well. But, really appreciate that. And the one last comment I wanna mention from from Princess there. It just shows becoming unwatchable. And again, this is a trend.

There's a lot of movie directors that are using sound stylist basically more and more. Right? And so it it's if you've noticed that movies are harder to understand what's being said, it's not just you, you know, often movies are just more difficult to understand. And then and then last one I'd mentioned that that may have been mentioned, I haven't caught out everything, but just language, English language learners, or any language or, right, if you're able to watch a video, in a language, it's much easier to read a another language you're learning, kind of before you're able to, understand that. This is just a great example on this next slide as we think about accessibility. So many of the practices we do for accessibility are gonna be absolutely essential, maybe, for someone, you know, with a disability, whether that's a permanent or a temporary disability, are often gonna be useful and helpful in so many different situations.

I I've heard the top cap use of captions, at least it used to be bars and gyms. Right? You'll often see them on in there where it's just too noisy to hear anything. You can just kind of follow along there. Captions are really one of those where it's just it's hard to justify not doing them anymore. They're they're everywhere.

And so it just makes sense to to to I mean, when, if someone can see them on Instagram, on Netflix, wherever, but they come to our learning and they're not there, right, there's a little bit of a disconnect, more more. And so we'll talk about that and and some other kind of examples on that space. And then just lastly, as we as we think about accessibility, really building things on this next slide, Ryan, in in a way that that content can be used anywhere wherever, person is at on whatever device they're using an accessible learning is just more usable learning almost all of the time. I mean, gone are the days when we could design for a desktop with a certain kind of, you know, know that there'd be this many pixels our our our learners would have on a screen. We really need to create content that can be used, in any context, in any scenario.

When we build for accessibility and for users with disabilities, it's just gonna require a lot of practices that are gonna make that learning more accessible and more usable for people in a number of different contexts. Yeah. And and Catherine did actually ask if there are templates and checklists for accessibility. And there are anytime that there's, government provided guidelines like WICAG. The the Department of Education does a great job of actually providing checklists and requirements associated with that.

So those are available as well. But then Christopher's also actually pulled together a list that we're gonna share, with link at the end of the of the presentation base. So you'll be I'll be sure to include those. Yeah. The the WICAT guidelines themselves can be a little bit overwhelming.

It it unless you do this kind of stuff full time. And even there, it can be overwhelming, to be honest. But there's a lot of great lists that we'll share a couple of examples that that are maybe just geared more towards instructional design here's some basic things you can look for that you wanna check up on your contact. Yeah. Yep.

And I'm gonna talk a little bit about learner UX. Thanks, Christopher. It what's interesting is UX design started off really as as the realm of website designer or or app design. And so we tend to think about it in those technical terms, but these are the elements that actually make up UX design in the in the broader sense. The interface.

Right? What does it look like? Is it a pleasant experience? How do you navigate? How do you actually organize the content in a way that is is make sense to an end user? Overall design, the creative aspect of it, HCI, user research, usability, and then accessibility. So we we tend to think of accessibility as a subset of that UX design, the broader user's experience. But as we've seen over time, when we start talking about instructional design, we can actually see that these are very, very similar. It's a it's a heavily overlapping Venn diagram. And there's actually an author, Doctor.

John Spencer, who actually wrote a book around, what can UX design teaches about course design. And he was kind of one of the first to actually say, look, these are these are very related. This, you know, accessibility is not just a subset of UX design. It should be, intrinsic to the overall experience. The more that we do those curb tests, the more that we make it a, an accessible user experience, experience, the more pleasant the user experience is as well.

And so I I've spencer author dot com. You can actually look at his book. But I think from a from an instructional design standpoint, it it I found it very enlightening over time. But realistically, the other aspect is This is we talk about accessibility and it's not just kind of a one and done experience. There's a process around the human centered design And so we observe how humans experience the the content of what we create.

We create ideation, different different, you know, pathways. And in some cases, we do AB testing around, what those look like. We do rapid prototyping to make sure that we are are, impacting change quickly. We get user feedback, user testing, usually in small groups or even in those AB groups. And then we iterate on that and we implement it.

And then we start that process over again. I think that's one of the things is I've worked with instructional designers and and something that Christopher said early on conversation about this. It's important to understand that that this process is ongoing and, the regulations change all the time. And, not only that, but but user preferences change all the time. Like, we talked about with younger learners wanting captions on all the time.

And so beyond the the technology change, the preference change, this is a living concept that we need to go through. The other aspect of this too is, if we look at the work of the Stanford longevity project, the Stanford Center on longevity, they've done a lot of work around the fact that humans, especially in, developing nations, are living longer. We're we're going to live to a hundred years old. Right? And so they've done a lot of work around, the new map of life. Right? And that's everything from, financial savings, career longevity, education.

Right? And and what we see now is, you know, we've looked at education as a very linear process, you know, for what you've heard the term, k through twenty in some cases, kindergarten through, you know, college or an advanced degree. But what we're looking now more is a a lifelong learning journey. And so we're not just we're not just designing for young users. We need to understand each generation and how they, actually prefer to learn and how, you know, they may or may not need additional accessibility requirements. I can't read small print like I once did.

And and things like that. And so as we as we address adult learners, whether that's through, corporate learning, through, reskilling and upskilling with, universities and colleges. We need to make sure that we're understanding their accessibility needs and adjusting for those as well. Which is which is a bit of a changing dynamic, especially is We really move. We've seen we've seen a a huge increase in non degree programs, a shift in enrollment, as as we get older.

And so there's a the education landscape's kind of in flux right now, and accessibility is really at the heart of making sure that we access, you know, meet the needs of all learners. And so as I I said before, there was this generally linear linear concept of, graduating from high school going to college. Thirty three percent or so drop out, and the rest, move into, careers with a with a degree. And now we're looking at more of a the cycle, as I mentioned. How do we reengage with those those learners that may have dropped out? How do we make sure that, non traditional students find the path back into learning, things like that? Accessibility is a is a big play in this because I think, making sure that the the types of learnings that are offered are accessible to the types of learners who need them.

Really is key. So what do we do now? And I'm gonna hand this back off to Christopher a little bit to talk through, what this looks like. Great. And and again, our goal here is not to you're not gonna maybe walk away as an accessibility expert knowing everything you need to know, but to really go over some basic principles, some key things that are are tool agnostic generally. Right? I mean, all of these things, there might be an application of how they work in a in the Canvas LMS versus whatever LMS you use or even in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, for example.

But there are principles and ideas that really should kind of work across the board, hopefully. And and the first one I wanna talk about that is really, a big deal is this idea of of using headings. And and we're probably all familiar with the idea of a heading in some format or another when you open up the newspaper. Most folks at least don't start at the top and read every word kind of down. We scan the newspaper.

We look for, headings of content that interests us. And then we kind of say, okay. I'm gonna focus on that section as a newspaper and read from there. And headings, allow, someone who is, you know, blind, for example, that might use assistive technology, that same kind of opportunity, as well as just again everybody who's using your course. The the so if I have a list of, vegetables and fruits like this, and and I I said, you know, find point to the blackberry, You might have to kind of scan all the way down, where if you go ahead and go, press the button once here.

If we have a heading in place, then then just logically, you can kinda say real quick. Okay. Fruit, Berry, blackberry, and find that really quickly. Right. And and a lot of users with disabilities are gonna use something called the screen reader that's gonna read the text out loud on the screen.

And headings are a primary way that a lot of those users are gonna navigate your your your content on your site. And so, but but an important thing when we're doing headings is not just making your text look big and bold. That looks visually like a heading, but but it's also really gonna be really important to make sure it's actually semantically a heading. So if you go to that next slide, Ryan, this is gonna look different, whatever tool you're using. These are just a couple of screenshots.

Like, from Canvas, for example, many of you might be familiar with HTML, not just making text, the paragraph text big and bold, but actually using the heading tag on that. Right? To make sure it's it's it's not just doesn't just look like a heading, but it also acts like a heading. Similarly in Microsoft Word, we're gonna wanna use, again, the the styles, which give that, it can give that text a heading and and just make that, just a little thing that you can do that's just gonna make a a big difference as far as accessibility for your content. And, again, a lot of other value comes from using headings, in, in your content. You know, Microsoft or or Word and and Google can create an automatic outlined for you or a table of contents, or you you can make it easier to format that content.

A lot of value that comes from there, but really an essential requirement for accessibility. Go ahead and and hit that next slide for us. This next one is a big one, just color contrast, and we see this a lot. And, again, we wanna be careful, and not convey the idea that that this has to be too limiting. Right? Sometimes people might think about this and say, I have to do black on white.

It's you know, boring and and and and and awful. But that's that's not it at all. It's just making sure though that there's enough contrast between the what the the foreground and the on. There's a lot of tools that can help you do this. We'll share some of those again at the end.

And again, someone with low vision, and again, if if you live long enough, you'll probably be in that category at some point, right, and benefit from this. But even think about, you know, walking across the, you know, on a sunny day on your phone. Right? If if there's not good contrast, you're you're everybody's gonna struggle with this in one way or another. The other's, key thing that I found as an instructional designer in this space is that somewhat frequently we might come across, I I'm at a university, and so our teachers do a lot of their instructional, you know, their own, and accretion, of course, content, and occasionally, we'll come across just a a horrible color scheme that a teacher is using in a class, right, like yellow on purple. And and, It's it can be hard today.

Like, you have horrible taste in color, but it's easy to say, like, boy, the color contrast is not quite right on on these, you know, Fuchsia and neon green you're using. Maybe we can tweak these colors a little bit to make sure they're accessible, but also make them so they're just not quite so horrible or or, you know, difficult to read for everybody. And again, lots of tools built in, a lot of tools. I I think Ryan's gonna show some accessibility checkers built into Canvas, but also like Microsoft Word has a built in accessibility checker. PowerPoint has it.

It should this kind of a feature is is acknowledged and just recognized by a lot of tools that have this. And so color contrast is a big one. And there are specific kind of luminosity numbers that you'll look at with some of these tools that can give you that. But aside from that, sometimes you can just do I just do the squint test sometimes, right, where, and I do classes actually, but I can kinda just squint at this. I mean, if I if I get up close, I can kinda read that.

But if I'm just squinting at it and it's hard to read, that's a pretty good check. Yeah. You may wanna look at that contrast and make sure it's it's okay. So That's another key thing that you can do. Please.

For Catherine mentioned that, you know, her marketing team needs to see it. Absolutely. I I love Christopher's point about you can you can make the guidelines to the bad guys. Right? Like, it's much easier to say, hey, the, you know, there's these guidelines out there. I think should align with these for accessibility purposes and and frankly that makes it more aesthetically pleasing sometimes as well.

Yep. Absolutely. And you will just sometimes see, like, a, I mean, a mob on a purple I mean, just these things that are like I mean, I don't know, but it's just such a key thing that makes it so I mean, just makes it pop and readable for everybody again as well. Right? And it it can be a good, foundation. That's why I appreciate that.

Good. Another mention that Adobe has an accessibility color tool as well. So and again, they're starting to have have, you know, if you stigma for design. Yep. Yeah.

It's it's just kind of something that's becoming built in more and more. So appreciate that. Good. Susan, you mentioned, an add in for PowerPoint? There's even a built in, PowerPoint accessibility checker If we have time, I wanna look at some of those tools towards the end, we can certainly do that. So that that's helpful.

Thank you, Ben. Yeah. Aside from someone who's low vision, Just so, I don't know what percentage of the population off the top of my head, but higher than you would think that are color blind. Right? And so again, making sure that was contrast, works is gonna be is gonna be a big deal. Thank you so much.

Let's go ahead and hit that next slide. Right? This is another big one that's just, again, essential, absolutely essential for for users with disabilities, but really make such a big difference for everyone. I brought up the the, you know, the idea of a a newspaper earlier with headings, the other way that, again, most of us navigate websites in particular, we use headings a lot, but we also look for links. Right? And I can promise you that your learners are doing this, right, when you get to a page, at least in a university setting. There may be a big chunk of content that has all the good stuff but a lot of them are just kinda looking real quick.

Where's that link that I need to click on to either submit the assignment or do the next thing or whatever that might whatever that might be. And so, but so frequently, we end up putting links in our content that, may or may not be kind of that standard. Nothing have to be always blue and underlined. That kind of a a web standard that's that that's a good one to consider unless there's the reason to do else wise. But but as long as it does need to be differentiated as a link, But also, like the assistive technology that, someone who is blind, for example, might use has an option where you can scan a page by link.

Similar to just how I might do that visually kind of look and see where's the link to go next, being able to they have that option to turn that on and scan through the links. But imagine if you do that, again, whether you're a visual learner or using something like a screen reader, and the links say click here, read more and more information. That's just not very helpful. And so just take a minute to make your links. Keep them short still.

You don't have to make, like, go to this page to Yeah. On and on. Keep them short and brief, but also descriptive. Help your learners know what's gonna happen when you click on that link. And again, I I think this is a fairly common problem that we see and that you might have been frustrated as well.

Like, you'll see three links on a page not be really sure, and so you have to click on one to know what happens and go back, click on a different one. So this is just such a good usability practice, but also super important for accessibility. Submit assignment review instructions discussed here. Those are those are short, but I know what's gonna happen when I click on that. It's gonna take me to the discussion post.

It's gonna take me to or I can sit my ass submit my assignment. Again, super little thing that can make a really big difference. So let's go ahead and get that go ahead on that. And should the TLDR. And if you're not familiar with TLDR, it means too long.

Didn't read. And it's one of those elements where instructor is a company, we have a we have a corporate culture of of the TLDR. If you're gonna write me a a three page or a even a three paragraph email, it needs to start with a TLDR. And that TLDR really should tell me everything I need to know about that email. People really struggle with that.

It's one of those things. But it from a from a we live in a busy world, we can only, absorb so much information. That TLDR really floats to the top. Specifically, what's the ask? What's this email about? What's this content about on a on a web page? It's incredibly helpful. Not necessarily accessibility focused but incredibly helpful from a from an organization.

At that point. Love that. Thank you. And and Angela asked about if that's also applicable to text on buttons, then absolutely it would be. Right? I mean, often the default for buttons might be submit.

Which may be entirely incorrect for what the action is you actually want the user to do. There's another discussion of whether to use links or buttons in different cases. Right? But But generally, a button would be used for an action. And, yeah, again, if you can make that button short and descriptive, you're gonna be so much better off. This next one again is just kind of a little bit of an idea of of simplifying.

On the right there, you can see, kind of a a a maybe a standard Sorry. A navigation we might find in a lot of, courses in our in our Canvas LMS. Right? Canvas does a great job at, giving you lots different options, and some teachers take advantage of all those and turn on all of the things type of a thing. And so we see a lot of courses that might have, you know, fifteen, twenty, even twenty five menu items on them. Even though the instructor really only needs the student to go into five or six of those on a on a regular basis.

And so as you kind of think about your course structure or design, just really thinking about, like, what are the core elements that are gonna be helpful and and and and needful here? And in this case, like, on the left side, you can kinda see it might just be five menu items that are the essential things that students really need to get to. And so just thinking kind of and that's just a good principle across the border where you can simplify things and and help your, I mean, just help your design eliminate unnecessary things. And that can be a big deal for, again, not only like a screen reader user, but maybe you have learner who are just, struggling with anxiety or just having a bad day. Right? But you'd go into a course, online course environment. And boy, if you're faced with thirty options.

That can just feel a little bit overwhelming sometimes. Right? Like, where do I even start? What do I click on? Do I have to go through all of these? And so just think through whether that's the amount of content you have on your page or how you chunk it, or just what is that overall environment? If you can be simpler and less, that's gonna be better. It's just a a basic principle. And then this this last one, that I wanna talk about is is one that probably, many of you have heard about it. It's often where where accessibility practitioners kind of start.

And it's an important one to consider. But is this idea of of all text on images? And so if you're adding in an image into a course, then again, a non visual learner would would not be able to access that image, right, if they're not able to see visually what it's sharing. And so almost every platform or tool now has the ability to add alt text or alternative to that image, where you're just gonna take a minute to go in and, just do a quick, description of the meaning of that image. You're not describing the image per se. And I won't get into too much of the nuances, but, like, believe, what is the intent of that, that, that image in that piece content.

Right? What is it what is the, yeah, the meaning? How would you describe that to somebody off of the phone? But it's not just descriptive. Right? It may be like, in this case, this image puzzle in in in our art class, it might mean it might the description might be a use of black and white in a, you know, this kind of a photograph or but in another class, it might be, a demonstration of of something missing from a group, and a feeling of of being missing out or or left being feeling left out. And so just consider the context of the image and make sure you're describing it in a way that's gonna be helpful to someone. This is one that, maybe doesn't have as universal of an impact. You you know, that, and there there are I just want to include it as the example of those things exist as well.

So if you're just getting started on accessibility, I often recommend, you know, let's focus on those things that maybe everybody's gonna understand or are gonna impact all learners because there's a lot of those. But it but as you as you start to develop an accessibility practice policies, there are some other accessibility things that are gonna be more beneficial just to people with disabilities and to recognize that those exist as well, and and can be an important part of, you know, developing instructional, or inclusive, content for everybody. Perfect. I think this one's back to you, Ryan. Yeah.

And so there's there's also some ways to, ensure that you're having consistent user experience. Before COVID, largely when we looked at learning environments, we really aired on the side of the the teacher and making sure the teacher have academic freedom or the ability to, teach how and when they want to. And we and we don't want to to take away that academic freedom. We do wanna drive consistency for end users, and that's, again, when we look at that that student UX experience, there are a number of ways to ensure that that, students have, consistent experiences they navigate through. One is the use of a single learning management system, making sure that they understand where to go to to get to learning rather than having to log in to multiple different systems.

But then you can actually create, blueprint courses within Canvas. And again, Most of the learning management systems that you'll use will have some version of of these tools, but, blueprint courses where you can actually, essentially lock down what the course shells look like for educators and ensure that they're, delivering a consistent experience across the board. Course templates are a great place to start whenever you're trying to provide consistency and you drive some of the accessibility standpoints, that that Christopher talked about, I mean, you can actually build those elements directly into a template and share that, and help drive that consistent element that way. And then within Canvas, we have a we have something called Canvas Commons, which allows you to, share learning objects, and those can be, parts of a course, quizzes, things like that. And now, again, allows you to create these different elements of the learning experience and share them amongst educators, in a way that drives that consistency as well.

And the more consistent we can be, the more easy it is to apply to these accessibility standards, across the board. We talk a little bit about accessibility checker, specifically to Canvas, but most tools will have this now. When you design a course in Canvas and run the accessibility checker, it actually does go through and look at simple things like your color contrast. Is your is your you have alt text for images? Are you using the right color scheme? Things like that. And and actually makes recommendations that the educator can fix or instructional planner can fix before they launch that course.

These are really amazing because, Again, even even the best of us sometimes miss, those simple things that can make an experience for an end user so much more accessible, and having those in design, in the moment checks really does help drive consistency across the board. We're gonna switch gears a little bit and talk a little bit about mobile. And I I think one of the things is we've seen a huge increase in mobile learning across, you know, across continents, across the globe. More people, more students are using the mobile aspect. I've actually I was on a campus in Texas, last year, and I had a student who, was a dual enrollment student both at a community college and, in high school, And she said I've never set foot on my campus.

I've done everything through Canvas on my phone. And she said I actually rarely go into a computer lab or do anything else. I just do it on my phone. And so we need to understand, how learners are actually interacting with learners. I think the assumption we, you know, we talked a little bit about the color blind aspect.

We need to actually not make assumptions around things. We need to use data to understand how many color blind learners do we think we're gonna engage like it's a it's a larger percentage of the population than we think. And sometimes we make assumptions about mobile appownership. I've I've stood on a college campus and had a a president say, you know, my students were we're a poor campus. We just my my students don't have access to smartphones.

The data shows that's actually not correct. And and, at this point, within the United States, specifically, mobile smartphone ownership is at ninety six percent for, students age eighteen to twenty nine. For students age thirty to forty nine, it's ninety five percent. It really doesn't drop off until we're above fifty down, and it's still the eighty three percent or so, with smartphones, six to five and a plus dropping off significantly. So understanding the dynamic of or you're understanding that in some cases, a smartphone, they may be more likely to have a smartphone than they would have a computer and have access So designing your learning specifically for, that mobile experience really does increase the accessibility at a basic level of just being able to access it in the way that's most convenient without having to seek out a a computer lab or things like that.

That's incredibly important. One of the data points that I thought was amazing. I actually shared it this week at a conference was, on average, most children receive their first smartphone at age eleven. And I can test to that I have a nineteen year old and a thirteen year old, and I think we bought them their phone their their smartphones at eleven, largely because they were they were doing school activities, they were they were out of the house and about, and we had to get Dibley to hold of them. And if we were gonna do that, well, their friends had smartphones too.

Right? And so there's there's that movement we need to understand Who has that? Again, American adults spend on average four point five hours on their mobile devices each day good or bad, depending on your experience there, but that's where they are. And so reaching learners where the are is incredibly important. And about forty five percent of all web traffic to the US originates from smartphones. So, again, they're using smartphones. We need to design learning that that, they can access, they can access, where they are every day.

And when you talk about smartphones, what's really interesting is there's actually two different approaches. One is native apps, designed apps. So we've all used downloaded apps that are there on our phone. And the other is is, responsive design through a mobile web. So that's using so far or one of the, web browsers, to actually open essentially a web page.

And so you you can design, learning to apply to both. Now students tend to, prefer the usage of native mobile apps. Data shows that that's their Let's see. I don't know why my sharing just stopped. Let me look at this really quick.

Oops. Sorry about that. We'll share this in. Alright. So students actually prefer the use of native apps.

They're they're easier to use. They can use things like, their compass, their autofill, there's a lot of tools that make it easier to use those native mobile apps. But from an accessibility standpoint, responsive design is actually much easier designed for accessibility within a mobile app. So, the best practice really is to design for both. And allow that experience for for learners.

There are actually a lot of tools that help create, responsive design output from from app design and things like that. But there there are benefits to to both tools. Their pros and cons are listed here. But realistically, if we really wanna reach users native apps are are the preferred method. Some recommendations really are, you know, creating that engaging native and responsive design experience.

Again, there are tools that actually help us, map those together, so you don't have to do completely different workpounds as you make updates to your native app. That can update responsive code. Design for a small screen. Think about that user experience. Some side, people say, prepare to scroll.

Right? Because there's a much more scrolling experience in a in a, app design than, around a phone than there are for, you know, a traditional online learning experience. IPhone and Android, they are essentially fifty fifty market share at this point. And so there's there's a lot of there have been other, you know, tools out there, but those if you're designing, native apps, those are the two apps that realistically would cover, the vast majority of end users, so that one's to focus on. Consider offline support needs for students with access issues. And this this is interesting because, we talk a lot about in developing countries the need for offline access because there's just not the ubiquitous, high speed, WiFi access that we have here in the United States.

But actually in rural areas and poorer areas of the United States, we still see the these gaps. And so making sure that they can, you know, when they're offline, when they don't have access to high speed internet. They still have access to learning is incredibly important. We've made large strides for this during COVID. Unfortunately, we've seen some of the the funding for, expanding high speed internet and supporting that for learning, kind of drying up post COVID.

And so really something interesting to to focus on. One of these we haven't talked a lot about, and I know Christopher and I have talked about it a little bit is, the use of AI. We're gonna start using AI use more and more. But one of those things, that we're actually experiment experimenting with right now is AI for for real time captioning. And then the next step beyond that is real time translation.

AI does an incredible job, at both of those. And so you'll start seeing some of those work in two different tools. Don't be afraid of it. I spent a lot of time talking to people about AI and and not being, you know, getting over the fear of of those tools. They really are incredibly and clearly powerful.

And then some notes on PDFs, and this is where I hand it back to Chris a little bit, to to dig into. Thank you, Ryan. Just on that note for AI, If you're up for a a quick little demo, if if you, are ever presenting from Google, slides, and the same thing exists in in PowerPoint, But Ryan, go ahead and hover over kind of the bottom left of your of your screen where that presentation is and hover over those three dots. Yeah. And this is just built into Google slides.

And go ahead and turn on, caption preferences down there kinda towards the bottom. Can you see that? And then go ahead and, oh, I think it's under the more menu right underneath that, actually. Sorry. And then oh, Sorry. I should have double checked where to do this.

There is a way to turn on captions. Maybe under, toggle oh, yeah. It's just that toggle cap toggle captions option that it's under caption preferences there. So it's just I think if you just click that, there you go. And now when I talk as a presenter, we'll shortly see caption showing up right here on the screen.

And this is, again, built into Google slides. It's also built into, to Microsoft, PowerPoint, and it's not going to be perfect because it's using, machine translation. But it does a pretty good job and it's something that's just built into these common everyday tools that we're using already. So Oh, that's a that's a We did I know I did not exist in support. Sorry to just bring that on you.

No. It just has that tip. That's excellent. I love it. You can go ahead and probably turn those you all do have the option to turn on captions within Zoom.

If if you need those or would like those at this point. But just, again, you're just seeing this show up more and more and just everyday tools. Just go back to caption preferences and then click on that same public captions, options. So and then once we do that, we'll go to this next slide. And this This next little section, I may offend some of you, and I'm almost, and so so steal yourselves a little bit.

One of the so let's just imagine for a second you have done, put in a lot of work on just creating a beautiful, Canvas or or or online course experience, training experience, whatever that might be, for whoever your learners are, You've made sure the the navigation's tight. You have a beautiful template. Maybe you've got modules set up. You've made sure your content is chunked appropriately. People log into their web browser, their phone, they're like, wow.

You know, what what a beautiful course experience? I can tell someone's really put a lot of thought in in into into this experience. And then, and then the challenge, though, and this is I'm I'm speaking from a university environment, and this may not be as commonplace doing whatever environment you're in. But I think all of you at least be familiar with this experience. If you go ahead and click on that, that next, button, think is this kind of a thing. Right? At least here at Utah State, and I think fairly common across the universities, PDF files are just you ubiquitous.

There's some value to PDF. I don't wanna say, well, I I I I do wanna say, don't ever use PDFs. But but but realistically, there there may be some value in some utility and PDF files. It used to be though kind of when when I, you know, gotten a structural design degree, degree a couple decades ago, it was really recommended to put everything into PDF. They're universal.

You don't have to have specific apps to open them. And that was really kind of the the direction, the the I I I think at least my experience was professionally that we we heard from. But any more, boy, pdfs can just be problematic for a number of reasons. And and this is a couple of examples if you go to that that next slide. You know, often it can be, you know, on the left, you know, maybe a PDF like that.

I think we've all had that type of an experience, right, where you're opening it, and it's crooked or upside down, or, I mean, that that's just a lot of them, right, that maybe instructors use the same PDFs they used when they were grad students, and and it just kind of it's like a rite of passage that people have to struggle with pdf files. But but but they're they can be hard that way. But even if you have a nice clean, go ahead and click on the arrow PDF like this. Sometimes PDF files can be completely inaccessible in that it's just an image of text. There's not even actual text in a PDF file.

Now that's not always the case, but, in that case, not only again, for someone, you know, who who might rely on a technology is gonna get zero value out of that PDF file. But then also a lot of learners, like, for me, I I have a I don't know if it's a good or a bad habit, but I select text as I read it. It just helps me kind of as my processing, and and I I can't do that on some of these type of of PDF as well. But even if you do have a clean PDF, if you go to that next slide, you know, like this one on on the left, and maybe you've got it from your library, or you know that it's a good, clean, accessible PDF, as we talk again about our mobile learners, Boy, you open that PDF on your mobile device and you've either got to do this kind of, you know, zoom in and and and back and forth back and forth. Experience, or if you do another click, there's just gonna be this type of, sorry, one more click on that.

Right? Microtext. Like, that's what it looks like on a mobile device. Right? And and mobile devices are getting bigger and bigger. But but I'm certainly not gonna be able to read that. And a lot of learners are gonna struggle there.

And so it's just not an ideal format. And there are some ways to reflow PDF. I I I I get that that that there are some things And there are ways to make pdfs accessible as well. But but as a general practice, wanna just kind of talk about a couple of alternatives, at least. Now the first one, if if we go to the next slide, is is just if your content starts off in Microsoft border PowerPoint, don't feel like you need to it.

I mean, we have so many instructors here who, like, they they create a PowerPoint and they convert it to a they might even have two or three versions. Right? Like, one version of the PowerPoint was slides, another version with three slides, and notes, another version with but then they need to update it. They have to go find the original file. They have to, you know, update it, then save it again as PDF. And it just it's just so much work for not only is it not giving you value, but it's kind of taking away.

I mean, PowerPoint is is a universal format. Now there are free ways to view PowerPoint files. You don't need to worry about that part of it at least. Same same with word content. Right? There's just so many much value.

It's it's gonna be more responsive. It's gonna be, just a a better reading experience for most students in in most situations. But beyond that, I wanna talk about kind of a a a new idea as well that that wouldn't have been possible, probably even ten years ago. And this is something that that we've kind of just gone, all all in on here at Utah State, but, now we have tens of thousands of PDF files in our courses. But it is getting easier and easier, and there are dozens of tools that can take a PDF file, even in a wildly inaccessible one, and and convert it to HTML.

The quality may not always be perfect. But but but if you can take that PDF content converted HTML, it's it's gonna be I mean, it it's just works right there in the in the basic environment. Right? Students I mean, again, you've had that experience. You click on a PDF, and you have no idea. Right? It might open in a new tab.

It might open in the same tab in a window. It might download. Etcetera, etcetera. And and it's gonna go all over the place. And so it's just built in.

It acts just the same as any other course content and students read it right there in their browser on their mobile device, etcetera. And Lewis asked about ePub. E EPub is a is another fantastic accessible format that can do that can do a great job, especially for longer reading materials and things like that. I think our biggest challenge is just, And I guess I'll say first, a lot of accessibility, the accessibility field are pushing e Pub really hard. And it it there's no concerns I have there.

Other than just adoption. You know, there's just there's just a a lot of students would say rather, you know, give me you know, a web page or or a or a PDF instead of an ePub just because, again, not that the tools aren't there, but it just hasn't been for whatever reason, you know, adopted maybe quite as widely, as as, you know, HTML, for example, or or even a a PDF or or some of these other formats, but but a great format, and certainly worth worth using. And so, as you go to that slide, though. I mean, I'll I'll just share as as an example of what we've done. Again, and I'll share some some links at the end of of how you might do this and and and some resources available.

But we've just built right into Canvas, for example. So any teacher can click on any file, and just go to convert to Canvas page, and then boom, it processes it. And it creates a a page bright built into our LMS. Now it's not gonna be perfect. Right? And and and if we had to we could show examples that you might have to go and edit some things.

But it is gonna be so much better than often the PDF was, and and so much easier to update. I don't know if hopefully you've never had to go through and and make a PDF file accessible. It's just a really difficult process. Now there's, again, tools that can help, and that's possible if you're stuck into that kind of a workflow. But but what we found is just that the time it takes to take a an inaccessible PDF and make it accessible it's often easier to convert it to a a an HTML or just web content that is both more accessible, but also just gonna be usable, responsive, mobile friendly, and easy to edit for anybody.

And so that's just a a process we've gone through. And again, I'm happy to to talk more about that earth share, but if this is something where you've always been frustrated by the, you know, all those PDF files scattered across your learning management system, whatever it be, just know that there's there's options and solutions, I think, going forward. More than there ever have been to kind of solve that problem, and provide a better learning experience for for for learners. And then just allow slide out, I would mention Ryan as you go there or, like, maybe a couple slides. There there's, I mean, there there's that link.

We'll put I'll put that in the chat. But just what makes just want to make sure everybody knows that that accessibility is a journey more than a destination. Right? And so we've shared a lot of things today hopefully you're not feeling too overwhelmed, but if you are, maybe take a deep breath. And just think through it, is there one thing, you know, that we learned or that we talked about today that I can maybe implement into my practice. And maybe it's not even gonna be, all you know, going back and fixing all the old things, but saying, what can I do going forward maybe to add, you know, captions to new video? Or or to make add headings to my content, whatever it might be.

And without, though, yeah, we'll we'll welcome any, questions that you might have. Thank you. Thanks, Chris, for those amazing. Yeah. Thank you so much, Ryan, and Chris, for this amazing presentation.

There was a lot of really great engagement in the chat. Throughout. Let's take a look and see if we have some questions. I know that a lot of questions came in during the presentation that were addressed. So we'll leave it open for just a few more minutes to see if there are any last minute burning questions.

Please be sure to make sure and grab that link. And be on the lookout tomorrow for a recording of this presentation that will be available tomorrow. And thanks to the audience again. I always like, when we're able to make it a conversation as we go through. Yeah.

Which it's so much more entertaining for us to have the conversation and and see your real time feedback. Yeah. Definitely. And we have some some questions rolling in. What recommendations do you have for learning disabled people? That that's a great question.

Often, when we talk about accessibility, we're talking about sensory disabilities, right, someone who's maybe blind or deaf or has a physical disability, But, yeah, I mean, certainly in our higher ed space, but I think just in society, we're we're gonna see a lot more of individuals who might have a learning disability, you know, or or or or or mental health issues that might impact their learning that kind of a thing. Now learning disabilities are really broad category, and so there might be math learning disability or reading learning disability, but the WICAD guidelines do include kind of some some guide some recommendations for cognitive disabilities that would cover a lot of this, but you're gonna be looking, I think especially around things like, you, you know, using, I think plain language, as a principle. Like, if you can say something in a simpler way rather than a more complex way, do that. That's gonna make it easier for that person. It's gonna make it, you know, better for everyone as well.

Just, again, clear instructions I think consistency that Ryan mentioned earlier is gonna be a a a a big one for that group. Right? Sometimes you'll see, like, every module of a course has maybe a different navigation or a different kind of pattern, that's gonna be frustrating and maybe a little bit overwhelming. And so so those are the those are some a couple basic things, but I'll I'll add that document we did share in the link. I'll add a couple of, additional resources to there, and that's when I can put a couple more things in. Yeah.

And that one specifically. Alright. Thank you so much, Christopher. Any recommendations, on software that's available to convert PDF to HTML. Yeah.

Absolutely. And and again, there there's one article in that, do document that talks about, I think it's called, a new normal, inclusive online user. Online learning experiences that kinda goes through this a little bit. So there's a lot of desktop. I mean, first of all, if you just go to Google and type in PDF HTML, there's really hundreds of options that are gonna come up lot of free online services that will do this for you.

But if you're gonna do this more regularly and consistently, like, it is built into a acrobat has a feature that does this, but the one of the tools we would recommend is is called ABby, a b b y y, that that does a little bit better job, and they have all kinds of APIs and stuff like but it also is just a desktop software that does a really good job of kind of identifying text, but also identifying headings and stuff like that into in in a document. So Abby is a tool I would recommend. I'll make sure to add that one to the list as well. Yeah. Very cool.

Thank you. Other than text captioning and translation, are there any other applications of AI for accessibility that are out there now? And I think Abby would kind of would that be, or is this something different? Yeah. I think there's I mean, machine learning is kind of everywhere. Right? You might have us comment on that. I've spoken a lot.

Go ahead and then I can Yeah. I mean, there's there's there's a company called Excessity that is part of our, how, you know, the in structures kind of marketplace of AI tools, that is emerged. Right now, you know, we're really like the first year into, this AI generative AI revolution. And so there's so many that are popping up constantly. And so everything from, you know, teaching assistants.

We're seeing a lot of teaching assistants, a lot of those, and some of those are geared at individuals with learning, disabilities or people with a specific need. And so they're worth exploring. Honestly, I haven't seen this many startups pop up since the the days of the dot com boom. And so, you know, there's and we try to we try to identify as many as we can, and there's so many out there. So really going out and looking, but what we're trying to do at least an instructor is create kind of an AI marketplace where some of those tools are vetted and and we list them because we know they they work well with our solution and can be found, but there's there's lots of malware right now.

Yeah. And and really there's not, a field that this isn't touching right. And so even on this the technology side. Right? So you'll have students that'll have better tools that'll be able to take inaccessible content and figure out ways to access it still. Not at an excuse to not make your content accessible.

But anything from, like, yeah, I mean, text generating images, just more guidance and help towards, you know, help helping you in in, you know, within authoring tools. I I I don't know that there's not a topic that's not being addressed and excessively topic that isn't being address. I mean, captioning is getting better and better. You know, automatic captions aren't aren't quite good enough for accessibility still, but but they probably will be. Before long, and and in some cases are as good as, but but I I I wanna be careful and hedge that, in in life cap, but there's a lot of resources there.

I I see a couple people ask about this, the document outside of Google Docs. I'm gonna share my email. If you don't mind, I mean, I think we can probably send it to the be posted on the event page tomorrow, but in a in like a Google doc format, maybe it'll have to be a PDF. We'll see. I but we'll we'll check on that.

Feel free to email me. We'll we'll make sure to also have an accessible powerpoint version as well so you can kinda see that, but don't hesitate to reach out. Yeah. Alright. So another question came in.

On converting traditional corporate workshop format learning content into more accessible delivery type. Any critical factors that are important to consider this redesign? I don't know that you're talking about, maybe a online corporate or more of a a kind of an in person training I I mean, I think the biggest thing that you can do is, I mean, more than anything I would recommend is is is con as you look at your audience, If you can just identify some of those learners who may be nontraditional learners in that audience, and it may be, you know, employees with disabilities. It may be employees from other marginalized groups. But if you but the I mean, more than anything, if you could just sit down with that group and listen for a little bit, Alright? And they may say, like, oh, yes, captions are super important. We don't care about this thing, but that would be essential.

They may say, you know what, we really need it to be on mobile If you could just do that, then I could do it while I'm caring for an aging parent or on my way to work or or we really need it in audio format or I mean, it's gonna depend a little bit, but but you'll get so much insight from that group that can really inform your instruction that will also just make it more engaging, more impact full for everyone. Yeah. That engagement piece, I think, is huge, making sure that it's not the, you know, the the traditional hour longer recorded video that everyone's gotta watch. There's so many more ways to to break the content up into engaging, elements that students can interact with, whether it's video quizzing, things like that, that really do increase that engagement level. Alright.

Well, thank you so much. To Ryan and Christopher. Unfortunately, we didn't get to all the questions for today, but we are at time. So I wanted to thank again, and structure for today's webinar. And again, thank you to everyone for your questions and your thoughtful engagement.

Thank you, Ryan, and Christopher. Have a great day, everyone. Thanks, everyone. Thank you, everyone. And this concludes today's webinar.

We thank you all for attending. The recording will be available at webcast dot t d dot org. We will send all registrants and email tomorrow with that link. Please be sure to visit our event calendar to sign up for future webinars at webcast dot t d dot org slash events. Goodbye.