Written by Evan Burnett
NCAM (National Center for Accessible Media) is excited to announce the publication of our newItem Writer Guidelines for Greater Accessibility, a comprehensive and unique resource that can be used to train item writers on accessibility basics with examples and instructions.
Focusing on item construction and the use of images, these guidelines will help reduce the need for additional work to make items accessible for students who use assistive technology. By addressing the decisions that test item writers face while they are actually creating the test, the NCAM Item Writer Guidelines explain how to create items that minimize the need for text alternatives. The Guidelines also provide examples of small changes that will help ensure clarity for students using assistive technology and, potentially, produce better items for all students. Consider accessibility at the earliest stage in the test creation process and the results will be a more thoughtful test, ready for effective text alternatives, which will lead to a truly accessible testing experience for all students.
Several new accessibility improvements to Microsoft’s Office Online have been rolled out. The improvements give users who are blind or have low vision a better experience. Microsoft has improved the way screen readers interact with Office Online through the use of the WAI-ARIA (Web Accessibility Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet Applications) web accessibility standard.
Microsoft has made other improvements over the past year as well. The following OfficeGarage videos demonstrate some of the improvements:
Yesterday Google announced improvements to Google Drive and all their editors: Docs, Sheet, Slides, Drawings, and Forms. Many of the changes are targeted specifically toward blind and low-vision users.
Among the changes are:
- Improved screen reader support for Drive and Docs
- Improved keyboard access
- Support for zoom & high-contrast mode
- Improved usability with the screen readers.
- Improved screen reader support for Docs, Sheets, Slides Drawings and Forms
- Support for alt text on images in Docs
- Improved support for keyboard when editing charts & pivot tables in Sheets
- Screen reader improvement including spelling suggestion, comments and revision history
- Quick search of menus and ability to perform actions in Docs, Slide and Drawings.
- Refreshable Braille display support
- Step-by-step guides for screen readers and Braille display
Texas Wins FCC Award for Accessibility Tools
The Texas state government won one of seven awards for innovation in accessibility communications by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) award. The award was for Texas’ new web tools that help people create accessible Microsoft 2010 materials. The tools can help users create everything from accessible Word document to PowerPoint slides.
The tools offer a set of learning modules that help people create accessible documents and use the features of the Microsoft Office 2010 suite.
Read more at the Office of the Governor Rick Perry website.
At the National Federation of the Blind National Convention on July 1-6 Vital Source Technologies, an Ingram Content Group’s leading e-textbook solutions, showcased new features to its already comprehensive accessibility support for the VitalSource Bookshelf platform.
Vital Source Technologies works to continually support industry standards for accessibility through conformance testing on all bookshelf platforms. They test offline on Windows and Macs, online on Windows and Macs using standard browsers (IE, Firefox, Safari), and on mobile devices for iOS and Android. All Bookshelf platforms are evaluated using screen readers such as JAWS and NVDA for Windows, VoiceOver for Mac and IOS, and TalkBack for Android.
Vital Source collaborates with accessibility consultants, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to insure the platform is tested in conformance with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
In addition to the client updates being released, Vital Source will provide an updated and independently-reviewed Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) for each of the platforms. The Android, iOS, Browser, Macintosh and Windows VPAT’s are available for download.
Read more on VPAT’s and Accessibility Certification.
Where the ADA does not spell out specifics, legal leveraging is filling the gap on how schools must accommodate making course textbooks and materials accessible. The recent settlement between the nonprofit group Disability Rights Advocates and UC Berkley sets a precedent which proponents hope other universities will follow.
Rebecca Williford, an attorney for the DRA, said, “Access to print material is an emerging issue. We’re hopeful that the technology is going to get better and that the agreement with UC Berkeley will help to put students on a more equal playing field.”
The improvements Berkeley agreed to include:
- providing digital versions of textbooks within 10 days,
- providing course readers within 17 days
- encouraging instructors to identify course materials earlier,
- providing scanning machines to allow students to self-scan materials.
The school will also implement a library print conversion system to enable students to request a specific book or journal from the library. This system will make materials available in different formats in about 5 days.
Read more about this story at LA Times - Pact gives disabled UC Berkeley students more access to books.
The Future Publishing and Accessibility Conference will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark June 13th and 14th, 2013. The two-day conference will focus on challenges and innovations within the digital publishing realm. Three main themes that will be discussed include:
- Changes in publishing companies, manufactures, and libraries
- Future dominating players
- Socio-economic and commercial consequences
For a schedule of events and registration information, go to the Future Publishing and Accessibility website.
Have you heard of PDF/UA? It is a complementary set of guidelines to the WCAG 2.0 success criteria and is a technical standard that provides a consistent means for achieving accessible PDF documents. Recently the AIIM published a mapping, Achieving WCAG 2.0 with PDF/UA, to help people understand the alignment between the two sets of guidelines.
Fast, Reliable and Accurate Document Accessibility Testing & Remediation
We will ensure that your documents will meet Section 508 standards and WCAG 2.0 guidelines and can be used by people with disabilities. We make the following documents accessible:
- PDF documents
- Microsoft Word
- Microsoft PowerPoint
- Microsoft Excel
We also work with: