Faculty Panel: What Faculty with Disabilities Want Institutions to Know [TRANSCRIPT]
HOST: Hello everyone, and welcome once again to the third of Sloan-C 2013 Accessibility Webinar Series. For this webinar, we have our Faculty Panel with the topic, What Faculty with Disabilities Wants Institutions to Know. We have a wonderful group of panelists today, but I want to first thank our sponsors, 3Play Media, Perkins eLearning, and University of Illinois College of Education, for sponsoring this webinar series and for their contribution.
We are very fortunate to have our wonderful Kristen Betts, Director of Online and Blended Learning at Armstrong Atlantic State University as our moderator today. And with that, I would like to now hand the microphone over to her so that Kristen can introduce our panelists and start the discussions today. All yours, Kristen.
KRISTEN BETTS: Thank you so much, Zeren and I would like to thank everybody who is joining us today for this session. As Zeren mentioned, it will be archived. There’s closed captioning, and we do encourage you to share the information for this session as well as the others with any individuals within your institution or other institutions that would benefit from the information that’s being shared from our amazing panelists.
We have four panelists joining us today, and each of them is doing exceptional things within higher education. We have Jonathan Lazar, who’s with Harvard University and Towson University, Alexa Schriempf, who’s with Pennsylvania State University, Valerie Haven, with University of Massachusetts Boston, and Alex Cohen, with Drexel University. I’m going to ask each of them, in just a few minutes, to provide a more detailed introduction so you can learn more about their professional work and more of how they are transforming higher education.
In terms of the agenda, we will do the introductions after I go just through some key highlights of national data. Our panelists will be talking about recommendations and resources for supporting faculty success in online education. And we do want to stress this is for full time, part time, and adjunct faculty. And then we will have a Q&A session. So as we go through, if you do have questions, we encourage you, we will ask that you put them in the Chat area, and we’ll ask the questions during the Q&A session.
I wanted to start off with a quote, and this came out in 2003, but it’s very prominent also here for 2013. It says, “Faculty members are one of the most critical hires that you have to make in your online program. While traditional on-campus students form an impression of your institution based on factors from physical plant to extracurricular activities, the one face that often represents your entire institution to online students is the instructor.” And so this is something that is critical, particularly as we have more and more courses going online.National Data on Faculty in Higher Education
Some fast facts about faculty. In 2009, there were 1.8 million faculty in the instructional workforce, and you’re going to see that approximately three fourths of that population is part time or adjunct. And when you look at the data from 1975 to 2009, you’re going to see a great shift from full time tenured faculty and even tenure track faculty to where we are today, which is looking at primarily tenure- or non-tenure-track faculty and part-time faculty.
Why is this important? Because we want to make sure that faculty development and orientations are taking place for all of our faculty because student success is going to be contingent upon that. And more importantly, we want to make sure that our faculty are all successful as well.
In terms of the shift in academia, when you pull up the chronicle, you’re going to see more and more discussions about faculty. “Faculty Retention Proves a Major Challenge,” “The Case of the Vanishing Full Time Professor,” “Adjunct Nation,” and “Adjuncts Build in Strength in Numbers.” And so as you see this, again, we need to encourage all of our institutions to provide exceptional training, orientations, and ongoing support to all of the faculty who are teaching our higher education students.
And lastly, as we move into the introductions, throughout this session, you are going to hear our panelists touch on really five critical areas– hiring, orientation, support services, ongoing professional development, and faculty success, because we need to make sure our faculty are successful so we can ensure our students are as successful as well. So on that note, I’m going to just introduce Jonathan in terms of his credentials, and then I’m going to ask Jonathan to provide you with a more detailed background about himself. Jonathan has two degrees from University of Maryland Graduate School in Baltimore. He has his Ph.D. in Information Systems and his MS in Information Systems. He also is a graduate of Loyola University in Maryland, where he has his BBA in Management Information Systems. So Jonathan, I’m going to provide you with the microphone so you can give our audience more information about your background.Jonathan Lazar
JONATHAN LAZAR: Hi. Good afternoon. I’m Jonathon Lazar. Hopefully everyone is either hearing me or getting captioning of me. And right now, I’m actually on sabbatical. I’m normally a Professor of Computer and Information Sciences at Towson University in Maryland, where I direct the undergraduate program in information systems. And right now, I’m on sabbatical and I was selected as a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
And so what I’ve really focused on is human computer interaction for people with disabilities. But over the years, that’s really turned into much more research about policy and practice, and once we have all these accessible technology tools, once we know how to make web content and course content accessible, how do we implement policies? What regulations apply? And so for the year at the Radcliffe Institute, I’m focusing on the intersection of human computer interaction for people with disabilities, and disability rights law and policy.
And so really, that’s my focus now, is looking at given that we have these technological approaches, how do we get them implemented? What policies? What practices? How do we get, for instance, higher education to make sure that the technology infrastructure works better for students and faculty with disabilities? I’ve spent some time researching that. So I look forward to chatting with everyone today and I look forward to the presentations from my co-panelists and I’m thrilled that so many people are taking part in this important topic. Thank you.
KRISTEN BETTS: Thank you so much, Jonathan. We’re going to go on to Alexa Schriempf, and she’s going to give you more information about herself. Now, she has her graduate degrees from Pennsylvania State University, a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Women’s Studies, a Master’s in Philosophy and Women’s Studies, and a BA in Philosophy from Sweet Briar, and is somebody who’s been involved in online education for many years. It’s exciting to have somebody who teaches courses, particularly in the liberal arts in the area of philosophy and women’s studies. So I’m going to let her give a little information about that as well in her introduction to all of you. So Alexa?Alexa Schriempf
ALEXA SCHRIEMPF: Thank you, Kristen. It’s good to be here today. I really appreciate this opportunity. A little background about my disability. I have been deaf since birth. I was diagnosed with my deafness at two and half and at that point received hearing aids. I do not sign. I used to be a hearing aid user all my life until 2008, when I received my first cochlear implant, and on March 3, just last week, I received my second cochlear implant, which has not yet been activated. So I’m hearing you all with one ear.
I have taught residential and online courses in philosophy and women’s studies for the past 15 years, with the bulk of my online teaching being in the last five years or so. My transition to teaching online was driven not by choice but by department assignment. I have to be honest. I had absolutely no interest in online teaching. I did not think it was a venue in which liberal arts could participate in any meaningful way.
But my department got on the bandwagon anyway, and I taught my first class about five years ago and fell head over heels in love. For me, it was absolutely awesome because it was the first time I could teach in a seamless manner. I didn’t have to spend half my time preparing for classes by focusing on getting the [INAUDIBLE] I needed to teach, and suddenly I had all this time to spend with my students online. And that first semester I taught, I had absolutely the highest feedback, and scores evaluation, and forged relationships with students that hadn’t really been forged before. So I am a very big fan of online learning for reasons that probably differ from most of the world’s interest in online learning.
After teaching online for a few years, I became interested in the instructional design aspects behind creating successful courses. Part of that was making sure that courses from the ground up are built with access. So I started exploring different career options, and I switched last year from a position in the Academy to being a full time instructional designer, which is where I am now. And I still teach part time online in philosophy. And I look forward to chatting with everyone today. Thank you.
KRISTEN BETTS: Thank you so much, Alexa. I’m now going to introduce Valerie Haven, and Valerie Haven has done amazing things on a national and international level. She has her two graduate degrees from Boston University MTS and her Master’s as well. She has a BA from Albright College, and she also has a degree from Montgomery County Community College.
Valerie has done exceptional work with Sloan Consortium and a number of institutes, and so I’m going to have her provide a little more information about where she is currently working and what she does, and then I’m going to move to the next slide so she can talk about her role in consulting and really empowering faculty to get out there and teach online, individuals that have an array of different disabilities. So Valerie, if you could take the mic, that would be great.
VALERIE HAVEN: Can you hear me, Kristen?
KRISTEN BETTS: You sound fabulous.Valerie Haven
VALERIE HAVEN: Oh good, OK. Welcome, everyone. I’m Valerie Claire Haven, as Kristen said. I’m an Instructional Technologist. I work at the University of Massachusetts at the Boston campus. The major focus of my work is taking a look at the issues of technology in online education. I also work with students to help them figure out if assistive technology would assist them with their academic career.
Mostly, what I try to think about is, how does technology work in online platforms? Does it support our learners? Does it support our faculty? And what can we do to bring together different aspects of technology to create new opportunities for inclusion? I’m most well known for developing tool kit suites, particularly I did one for a student who was deaf and blind, because we had an access issue and we were able to support that. And so there’s a lot of different aspects to my work. And as Kristen said, I do a lot of work with Sloan as well.
KRISTEN BETTS: Thank you, Valerie. And I’m just going to go through this second slide. Valerie’s very humble in her introduction. I mean, she’s working not just with University of Massachusetts, but University of Southern Maine. She does workshops. She can provide workshops for institutions online, face to face. She’s been the recipient of numerous awards, and we feel very fortunate to have her and our other panelists that are part of this speaker series.
We have Alex Cohen, who is joining us as well. Alex has his graduate degrees from Drexel University. He has his MS in Hospitality Management, which he completed that fully online, and he is currently a Ph.D. candidate. And if I’m correct, Alex, you’re wrapping up right now a large number of assignments. So I will let Alex continue with his introduction.Alex Cohen
ALEX COHEN: Thank you so much, Kristen. Yes, that’s true. I am in the middle of finals week. I’m sure everybody remembers what that was like. I first want to say how honored I am to be here today, particularly part of this panel with such esteemed scholars. While I was attending UNLV for my bachelor’s degree in hotel administration, I was diagnosed with a degenerative retinal disease called retinitis pigmentosa. I’ve been slowly losing my vision since that diagnosis. Despite this, I did have some professional success working in the hospitality industry as a hotel general manager, and eventually as a vice president of operations.
I did decide to go back to school to get a Master’s Degree in Hospitality Management, and selected an online program based upon Drexel’s reputation for the program, but due in great part to the flexibility it would offer as I live in downtown Philadelphia with a wife and family and have different responsibilities where the online flexibility really was a wonderful thing to have.
So upon completion of the Master’s Program while I was waiting to start my Ph.D. program in marketing at LeBow College of Business here at Drexel, I did adjunct work in the School of Hospitality. I did a few online courses, as well as some in-class work, but I did this in an effort to stay affiliated with university. I enjoyed teaching. I found I really enjoyed professionally training my employees, I also enjoyed educating students, as well as it did provide a little extra income to pay off the Master’s Degree loan. And like I mentioned, it did keep me affiliated with the university. So I am very happy to be here representing the adjunct perspective.
KRISTEN BETTS: Thank you so much, Alex. And what we’re going to do, and this is the exciting thing about this speaker series, we’re going to move into the part where each of the panelists is going to talk from their own experience and share with you recommendations and resources that they would like you to consider for supporting faculty success online. So at this point, the panelists are going to move forward. Jonathan will provide his responses and pass on the mic just in accordance to the speakers that you just heard in terms of Alexa, Valerie, and Alex. So I’m going to pass the mic over right now to Jonathan.University IT Accessibility
JONATHAN LAZAR: OK, and I just took the mic. So I’m going to talk a little bit about my experiences with how you get organizational change to happen at universities when it comes to IT accessibility. Many of you are probably aware, based on the background that I’ve read about those who are taking part right now and listening to the webinar, many of you are aware that universities are in a situation where for many universities right now, they’re saying, OK, the Justice Department is saying we have to have accessible IT. Really? OK, what do we do? How do we do that?
Certainly, there have been a number of policy reasons why this has become more on the forefront and more to the attention of administrators at universities. I would say probably starting with the 2010 letter that the Department of Justice and the Department of Education sent out to universities about eBook Readers and students with print disabilities. But it’s been going on and on. There have been lawsuits against universities, administrative complaints against universities. There was a Senate hearing on accessible technology for students.
So while we’re talking about the faculty side, this whole issue of IT accessibility at universities has, in the last two or three years, really started to gain much more attention. So many of your universities are very much now in that situation where they’re saying, OK, we need to do something. What do we do? Where do we start? And universities I’ve worked with tell me that story.
So we often talk about faculty needing to receive training about IT accessibility, but that doesn’t really address faculty who have disabilities. But they still may need either to receive training, or they may need to be the ones who actually do training for the IT staff. The key thing is that when there are problems, when you see that, let’s say, the learning management systems, when you see that whatever you as faculty are needing in terms of technology access– when you see that there are problems, report them immediately.University IT Accessibility: Creating Awareness
One of the biggest problems in any type of IT accessibility is not complaining. You need to complain. And you might say, well, I don’t want to complain. I don’t like being a complainer. The problem is very often, government agencies, companies, universities, what they do is they say, we must be accessible because we haven’t received any complaints. And literally, that’s the faulty logic, but that’s what they say. We must be accessible. We haven’t received any complaints.
So what you need to do is let the IT division, let the CIO, let the Provost Office know when there are problems, and start pushing your campus to do a campus IT accessibility audit. The idea is that the university needs to take stock and say, where are we right now? How accessible or not accessible are all of our technologies? Figure out where are we? Because it is a problem, not only for students with disabilities, but also for faculty who want to be able to use learning management tools, who want to be able to use campus technology. And that’s been a part of these lawsuits, like the Penn State lawsuit not only involves student aspects, it also involved faculty.University Accessibility Audit
So really, you need to make sure that you educate administrators. You need to make sure that you educate people on your campus, and push them to do an IT accessibility audit. Don’t only just say, well, ask the companies. Encourage campuses to do their own testing. Don’t only trust the VPATs, the product accessibility templates. Ask faculty.Developing an IT Accessibility Plan
Develop an IT accessibility plan for the campus and push your administrators to develop an IT accessibility plan. Why? Because if there’s no formal plan in place, nothing’s going to get done. It often gets passed off from committee to committee. They say, oh, well our budget was cut. We’re going to look at it next year. You need to have a plan in place.
Now, let me tell you, there’s so many misnomers at universities, so many misunderstandings. I’ve heard at least two university administrators tell me, but the problem is, if we have a plan, we can then be held accountable for not actually following through on the plan. OK, that may be one perception, but the reality is if you look at what the Justice Department has said, if you look at some of the cases, the faulty thing is not having a plan. You’re not going to be faulted for having a plan and only get getting 90% of the way there. You’re going to be faulted for not having a plan for IT accessibility. You have to plan ahead. It can’t be something reactive.
One of the news stories was from about 2010, I want to say, where there were some legal complaints against Cornell and the Cornell IT staff said, well, we only fix things when we get complaints. Well, you need to complain, but you also have to get your campus to start being proactive, because that doesn’t cut it to say we fix it when we get a complaint. They have to be proactive.
Now it’s also important, my fourth point here, don’t just be technical. Tell the story. You have to tell the story of how this impacts on you. You have to tell the story of why this is important. When I talk about accessibility now, rather than speaking technically or from a regulatory point of view. I start by saying, OK, here are three friends of mine. Here are disabilities they have. Here are the technologies they use. Here’s where there’s stumbling blocks. So you really have to tell this story.Accessibility in University Procurement
We’re going to move on to the next slide here. In terms of processes to put in place, one of the most important ways that you can help improve accessibility of IT on your campus is to push for accessibility requirements to be included in procurement forms.
Anytime that a university spends money, especially if you’re at a state university, there are a whole set of barriers, a whole set of processes, that you do related to procurement. Were there multiple bids? Is the money being spent in the right way? Are there requirements?
So what you want to do is you want to make sure that those procurement processes include accessibility. Why? Because if it’s not in the contract, guess what? Nothing’s going to happen. Because people say, well, it wasn’t in the contract. You have to push to get it into the contract. So focus on accessibility requirements in procurement forms.
Now, I’ve often said it’s important to tell other faculty that they can lose their accounts for posting inaccessible content. Now you may say from a faculty point of view, but I have a disability. I try to make things accessible. Make sure it’s not only accessible for your disability, but successful following standards for multiple disabilities.
So we often talk about building websites on campus, not building websites that work for blind students or building websites that work for deaf students. We focus on building websites that work for all students, following technical guidelines like WCAG, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. So it’s important to make sure that there are processes and penalties. That faculty have to post accessible content, that IT division has to purchase and acquire accessible tools. So you want to have all those processes.Funding for University Accessibility
Now, one idea that I’ve proposed, and no one’s taken me up on it yet, but I really encourage someone out there. Please, this is my idea. Please steal it at no cost. Just please do this. A lot of times, there are grants that are funded to help develop online learning materials. Well, I say a great way to help enforce accessibility of online learning is make sure that the budgets for those grants– and remember, grant budgets have to go through a series of approvals. You have to go to your Office of Sponsored Research Programs, or whatever it’s called on your campus. So make sure that all budgets, in terms of developing any type of online learning tools, any type of online learning content, any type of classes, make sure that there is a budget line item for IT accessibility required. First of all, it gets people to think ahead about it. Second of all, what happens is that once someone says, we can’t make it accessible, you can say, sorry. If you look at your budget, you were budgeted $15,000 for this. You have to do it. So it’s really good because it makes sure people budget for it, and it also makes sure they’re thinking about it early on.Making Online Captions for E-learning Easier
Idea number four is make captioning easy. I see very often that universities run into this problem with captioning. They say, well, we can’t caption all this content. We can’t do this. There’s sort of a ludicrous lawsuit going on. I don’t know if anyone’s heard about this. CNN.com, the Cable News Network, is saying that if the law requires them to caption their videos online, that that’s a violation of their first amendment rights. So it’s a little bit ludicrous, I personally think, but the key thing is that if you want captioning to happen on a campus, you need to make captioning easy. If you can’t have people on campus do it, you need to have ongoing work partnerships, memos of understanding, or whatever the process is at your university, if you have an approved contractor. Make the process to get video captioned very easy. The easier you can make it procedurally, the more likely it’s going to get done.Faculty Responsibility and Rewards
When faculty do a good job with accessibility, make sure that there’s a process in place where they can get credit for it. If you have full time faculty, very often, they’re worried about getting tenure and they’re worried about what will help them get tenure. Well, make sure that they get credit for it. Part time faculty, how are they evaluated? If part time faculty are evaluated only based on teaching evaluations, make sure there’s a line item on the teaching evaluation about, were the online resources accessible? You want to make sure that if you’re doing this, there’s a way to get credit for it.
And I say one of the most powerful ways on a campus to improve IT accessibility is create an ongoing panel of students, faculty, and staff who have various disabilities who can participate in ongoing testing. Think of it as an advisory council for the university on their IT accessibility. It’s more likely to work than contracting out to someone, than outsourcing. Why? Because if you contract out, whatever the contract says, people will do and that’s it. If you have a panel of people who are committed to the institution, the relationships there are stronger. The members of the committee feel very much connected to the institution. They feel buy-in. The university is more likely to listen to its own internal faculty, staff, and students than to an outside consulting firm. So these are some ideas to help put processes into place to improve IT accessibility on campus.Building a University-wide Accessibility Coalition
Now remember also that this is not just the province of Student Disability Services. I have never seen a situation where saying, yes, our Office of Student Disability Services is handling the entire thing. I’ve never seen where that leads to success. Why? They usually are understaffed. They’re not high enough in the power structure of the university. To really get this to happen, to really improve IT accessibility on campus, you need to involve the provost. You need to involve the CIOs. You need to involve Academic Affairs. The provost and the deans and the chairs, you need to involve the CIO who’s in charge of the IT infrastructure, the Chief Information Officer. You need to find a way to talk with promotion and tenure committees about how this is important. So you really need to build a coalition to make this happen across the university.
It’s also important to reach out to academic departments of Computer Science Information Systems or Information Technology. Why? Because they very often have technical expertise. If you don’t have IT accessibility expertise in your CIO, these IT divisions, you need to look at your academic departments.
And find a way to partner with the greater community. Many universities are near groups that could really help with this, that could advise, groups like the State School for the Blind or the Deaf, the State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Office of Rehabilitation Services, Workforce Development Offices, advocacy groups like NAD, like NFD, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.
So you have to start thinking broadly on campus about how we’re going to make this happen. We care about improving the technology experience for students with disabilities, for faculty with disabilities, for staff with disabilities, and so we need to speak up and we need to form partnerships, and we need to bring more attention to this. And the way to do this is by focusing on policy and process, by focusing on things like procurement processes, by focusing on not only responsibility and blame, but also getting credit. If you’ve done something good, how is that recognized? And we have to look outside
JONATHAN LAZAR: –to partnerships that we can form to help improve IT accessibility on campus. So thank you very much for your time today, and now I’m going to pass the mic metaphorically over to Alexa.
ALEXA SCHRIEMPF: All right. Can everyone hear me?
KRISTEN BETTS: Yeah, you sound clear.
ALEXA SCHRIEMPF: OK, great. Kristen, one quick question. Am I to navigate the slides myself?
KRISTEN BETTS: Yeah, if you’re able to, that would be great.
ALEXA SCHRIEMPF: I can do that. So a little bit of background about myself. I think it’s critical to understanding where I’m coming from. I was mainstreamed as an oral-deaf student, and fundamentally, this means I do not use sign language to communicate, but rather hearing aids, assistive listening devices, and captions. And although I had access to in-classroom room captioning, often known as CART, in my later years at grad school, I never found it very helpful as a teacher, because, with no offense to the [INAUDIBLE] CART working right now, captioning real time is too slow to keep pace with the kinds of discussions that take place in liberal arts liclassrooms. So I have always struggled to provide myself with various technological access that would give me that rapid fire instant access to what was going on.Accessible Listening Devices for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing
A little more background. In case you’re wondering what’s assistive listening devices are, I’ve got some pictures on my slide right there. The one in the lower right corner is an old ’80′s version of stuff that’s pretty standard now. It is an FM system. This is basically a transmitter with a microphone. You can see the little lapel mic on the floor of the slide there, and a receiver with headphones. As a student and as a teacher, I wear the receiver with the headphones, and the main speaker wears the transmitter with the microphone.
Now, I as a hearing aid user, I could not use headphones because they would cover the hearing aid and make them squeal and have a feedback noise, so I would use a neck loop, which is pictured in the upper right corner. This simply goes around your neck and uses something called a T Coil to transmit the sound to the hearing aid. A T Coil is just another kind of radio wave.
Now, as a student, this worked very well because I could get away with just hearing the one speaker, the one who had all of the knowledge. As a teacher, especially in the liberal arts, however, I need to be able to hear multiple speakers. And as you can see, the FM transmitter has only one microphone. So I started brainstorming ideas about how to get multiple mics going with one transmitter, and that’s the picture in the middle with the two mics.
This is just an example of what I ended up making with Joseph Duarte’s help of Duartek.com. He helped me build a feed microphone wireless transmitter system that was portable so that I could go from classroom to classroom and carry this around with me and set it up at the beginning of each class. And then I was able to train my students to use the microphone when dialoguing. So it slowed down discussion a little bit, but it also made it more thoughtful and more deliberate. So there are pros and cons that I was able to adapt into my teaching pedagogy.
Something to keep in mind is that because I sound the way I do, which is basically not deaf, most people don’t realize that am extremely deaf. I talk about having hearing speech and deaf ears. So for example, I was on the telephone the other day with a manager of a movie theater, and I was trying to find out what movies he was showing were going to be captioned. And he understood that I was deaf, but he assumed that because of my clear speech, that if I went to one of his movies that did not have captions, he would be more than happy to turn up the volume for me. And I explained that it’s not a volume issue but a clarity issue. So that’s just something to keep in mind, that there’s a wide range of hearing and deafness abilities.The Spectrum of Disability
So I think it makes more sense to talk about hearing disabilities. We should be talking about listening abilities. What are the different ways that we listen, and as a result, what are the different learning styles that are out there that we can tap into and promote with online teaching?
So just a little background on the different kinds of technological assistance that we need to be able to incorporate into our baseline infrastructure that the previous speaker was talking about, Jonathan. You’ve got people who use sign language and you’ve got people who need to read lips. You’ve got people with hearing aids, cochlear implants, middle ear implants, bone implants. All of these devices create different listening and hearing experiences. Same with assistive listening devices, and of course, you have captions and there’s a website where you can get more information.Creating Accessible Information for a Class
And I would add to captions, also, you’ve got transcripts. Transcripts are another useful tool to provide access, but they’re not a substitute for captions. I teach a class where there is recorded video lectures online, and we provide the audio file, there’s a video audio file that you can stream in. But we assume that there will always be bandwidth issues. We have people in rural regions of Pennsylvania where the bandwidth is not wide enough to support the sophisticated kind of media images coming online, so we provide the audio file as a downloadable file. We provide a downloadable Word doc with the transcript. And then of course, we have the captions in place. And this way, each user can download whatever file or files they need to access the material.
So for me, online teaching, as I was saying in my introduction, gives me better, faster, and easier access to my students, except that I am noticing what I call it the audio creep. I am noticing that there’s a lot of audio-based media coming in that tends, because it’s sort of creeping in at the last minute. A professor will decide or I will decide, hey, this is a great YouTube video. I want to include this in my lecture tomorrow. But it’s not captioned because whoever uploaded the video didn’t caption it, so what do you do? So online teaching is a great way to democratize education and make it more inclusive for people with disabilities, but we have to, from the ground up, make it imbued with universal design.
So I’m a big fan of keeping things doable and affordable for institutions. As Jonathan was talking about, you get it from the ground up, but you also utilize your ground force. You utilize the people on the ground who are putting all this stuff up. So my classroom teaching has a voice thread section, which I tend not to like because immediately, there’s this avenue in which students can call in and record their comments, and that’s all it is. It’s an audio recording, sometimes made over a cell phone with a dirty connection, and I get frustrated with that. So I’ve just ask my participants that if you want to call in and provide a recording, that’s great, but can you also please take a few minutes and type up what you said and append that as a comment?
Same with videos that get uploaded. Provide the captions. And there are technologies out there that allow individuals who want to pull a video from the web and use it, to at the same time caption it. One of our sponsors for this webinar, 3Play Media, is one such company. Another one that I’m vaguely familiar with is Automatic Sync Technologies. But I’m most familiar with what we have at Penn State. Patrick Besong is one of our instructional designers who has developed a software called Synchrimedia, and he provides this free to all Penn State users and leaves it up to us to find someone to do the captioning, or you can do the captioning yourself.
These technologies basically allow you to enter what you hear into a blank space, and then it syncs it for you to the audio. So it’s putting captioning technology at the public’s fingertips, and if there was a way to keep this affordable and accessible that would enable everybody who already knows that there should be captions to go ahead and make it happen, rather than having to go through bureaucratic channels all the time to get everything captioned ahead of time. So much of what’s not captioned is on the fly stuff that isn’t known about in advance for adequate preparation.Captioning and Universal Accessibility
You can do things like maybe develop a bank of work study students that you could have available on a 24-7 schedule, and when something needs to be captioned, it would be sent online to the work study students and they would bank their hours and put in the time to caption right there, and send the file back to you. So I think that wraps me up. I do want to add, in conclusion, that coming at the world of online teaching and instructional design from a background as a philosopher, I am more and more becoming aware that our abilities to listen in the newly emergent digital world is intimately tied with literacy. We talk about 21st century literacy is the hallmark of online education, of education in general in the 21st century. I think that literacy is fundamentally also about digital hearing.
So I think that captioning is really just another way of doing universal design that everyone benefits. Our digital world is simply going to, in my opinion, reinforce the notion that literacy in the 21st century is very different from the literacy of the past. Capturing our audio and making audible our visual is completely consistent with the demands of where we are going with education in the 21st century. Thank you, and I will turn over the mic to Valerie now.
VALERIE HAVEN: Thank you very much. So can you all hear me?
KRISTEN BETTS: Yeah, you sound wonderful.
VALERIE HAVEN: Good. Thank you very much. One thing that I forgot to mention in my introduction is that I am blind, and I came to my work as an instructional technologist when I started teaching for UMass online in 2001. And at that time, we were using Prometheus as our learning management system, and we were also using Sentra, which was our synchronous conferencing platform. And I actually did fairly well with Prometheus, but I found quickly that Sentra turned out not to be accessible to me as a blind instructor. So that actually set my feet on the path to where I am now, to begin to look at what are the issues of technology, and how does that play into pedagogy and instructional design?
So now, along with being an instructional technologist, I teach for the Instructional Design Graduate Program on our campus, and I also teach at the University of Southern Maine. So being an Instructional Technologist, I’m a technobabe, and I think a lot about what the user issues are, both for our students, but also for the faculty and the staff and the administrators.University Accessibility and Learning Management Systems
So one of the things that I want you to understand is that most of the major learning management systems and the content management systems pretty much have worked on accessibility to some point. It changes according to how much work has been done depending on which one of the systems we’re talking about.
And the other thing that I’d like you to know is that the learning management systems focus on different issues of disability and learning disability. So that’s one thing you want to think about as you begin to explore this issue with your learning management system at your institution.
At UMass, we now use Blackboard Learn 9, and that’s gotten a lot of attention about its usability and its accessibility, and that’s a great thing. But depending on what your population is and what kinds of disabilities you have among your students and your faculty, you’re going to begin to look strategically at what the issues are. So for instance, for me as a blind instructor, in Blackboard Learn 9, I can’t put my grades in myself in the Grade Book. I have to have assistance with that. I also find that the Discussion Board is difficult to manage. It’s not possible as an instructor, but it’s a problem.
And so generally, these kinds of things crop up because obviously, the learning management systems would have spent most of their time and focus developing accessibility for our end users, which would be our students. That would be understandable. And there can be much less support from the faculty and the instructional designer and administrative side of the same system, and you would need to check that out. So that’s one thing you want to begin to take a look at. You’re going to need to learn a little bit about what kind of disability your faculty and administrators have, and then what their learning needs are.Learning Platforms and Disabled Faculty
So for my second point on this first slide, that actually extends beyond the platform itself and how it was built, but also to the courseware that’s in the platform and the documentation. One of the things that happened to me when I began to work with Wimba Classroom, which is the synchronous conferencing system we use now at UMass, is that when you read the accessibility white paper, it talked about the keyboard shortcuts that they made accessible for learners with disabilities.
But if you read the documentation from the administrator’s side, it didn’t say the same thing. It meant the same thing, but they didn’t think carefully enough about translating the language around inclusion and access over to the other support systems for Wimba. And I showed that to them and they fixed it eventually. So that’s one issue. You have to look at the documentation. What do your training modules say? What do your tutorials say? What information is there or not there?
And the other really big thing to think about with the learning management systems is that the learner tools that are inside the systems may not be as accessible and as usable as the learning management system itself is. So you’ll find that sometimes, the chat platforms that are inside the accessible platforms don’t work well. There can be things like voice tools, you can have other little things like that. Sometimes the HTML editors, they don’t work, things like that.
I realize that this is rather techy, but this is more for your instructional designers and your IT people to think about. But all of this affects how a faculty person with a disability is going to approach developing their courses and to think about how they’re going to use their life resources to teach well for your institutions. So that’s why I’m talking about the fact that courseware and the documentation may not interface to support well the resources that someone with a disability would use to teach. And that actually extends a little bit beyond just the technology to the fact that a faculty person with a disability may actually need to teach a little differently. If you have a template for your faculty, they may not be able to do it as easily.Disabled Faculty and Courseware
And then the third thing to think about is that your faculty, your instructional designers, your instructional technologists, and your IT people may not be aware of how the assistive technology that a faculty person with a disability uses interfaces with your courseware. And we see this a lot with our students with disabilities. And what can happen, because this is such an obvious example, so all of the support staff that works with your online programs, they know everything about your LMSs, they know about the courses, they know about the content. They can support a faculty person beautifully that way. I use Jaws, which is a screen reader. That’s made by Freedom Scientific. So Freedom Scientific knows everything about how the assistive technology that I use works. They can support me well with that.
But where this falls apart quickly for both the students and the faculty is that those two organizations don’t know about how their technology interfaces with the other one. So what happens with both the students and faculty is that they get caught in the middle. So I’ve got a problem. I’m stuck inside a discussion thread. I can’t get out without deleting something because my screen reader is not reading something correctly. And so nobody knows how to answer those questions. Nobody knows how to help me figure this out. So this is a really huge issue in terms of supporting your faculty with disabilities. So Kristen, I’m ready to switch to the next slide, please.University Resources to Support Faculty with Disabilities
So in terms of supporting your faculty with disabilities, it might seem unbelievably obvious to hire someone to help them. And that sounds like it would be simple, but it sometimes is not. When I started having some problems with particularly the Grade Book when I’m teaching for the University of Southern Maine, usually when I’m teaching, I’ll get a support person like a graduate assistant, or a work study student, or an instructional designer, usually is willing to put the grades in for me. Well, with the way that the University of Southern Maine, their online program is set up, there just wasn’t a person that could do this for me consistently. So depending on how do your support systems are set up at your universities and colleges, this might be a bigger issue than you would think.
Faculty with disabilities, I also can request assistance from my instructional design team. Well, our instructional design team is not huge and we have many, many faculty that teach that they have to support. So it’s not always efficient to have somebody assist me with maybe even three hours a week to go into the LMS and deal with some of the physical aspects of my teaching. So that’s something you need to think about. Where is that human support going to be?Disabled Faculty and Tips for Building Courses
So if it’s not so easy to get that in place quickly, another solution that I would like to suggest, which I have done and this has actually worked out pretty well, is to actually build my course in an accessible platform that I know I can use, and then link that into the existing platforms that are being used by the school. So I’ve used two. There’s one called ATutor. This was developed by the University of Toronto in Canada, and it’s a very simple, straightforward, accessible learning platform. It is free for use. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles, but you can build content by yourself.
So one of the nice things to do is to put everything there, and then it can be linked directly into Blackboard Learn so that you can still use the password protection of the main learning platform and get the benefit from both sides. So this is a possibility so you don’t have to go out and buy something brand new. Another thing that you can also do is use instructor [INAUDIBLE]. That also can work as well, for the same exact reasons, so I would try that out as well as a possibility.
The other thing along with that, if your faculty are doing well working with the learning management system and they’re having some problems with either your synchronous conferencing tools or with some of the other things that are used by your faculty, you can actually, most of the time fairly inexpensively, purchase the services of a more accessible format to substitute something that’s not accessible in the LMS. So for example,
Blackboard Collaborate for me is not always a comfortable system to use. I need a lot of support to work with it. Zeren knows that because she’s worked with me before. What you can do, though, is you can actually for a few dollars, you can actually purchase the use of an accessible chat program called Accessible Event. And that’s made by Serotek in Minnesota. I think they’re in Minnesota. And it’s really wonderful because if you’re having a meeting or if you have someone with a disability and you just want to have them in as a guest speaker for one day, for $10 you can actually rent or subscribe to their program, and you get 25 seats. And you can put it right inside your existing chat program, and it was designed to provide accessible chat for people who are blind, low vision, deaf, hearing impaired, and people who are deaf blind. It’s very good. We use it a lot here at the school, and like I said, it’s inexpensive. So there are things like that you can do as well that will provide levels of accessibility for your faculty as you’re beginning to look at their support issues. I’m just checking on my slide here. Hold on a second.Inclusion and Universal Course Design
So then the final thing about exploring new resources for developing pedagogy. This is a much larger conversation where you would look at issues in universal design. You would look at what would be the natural teaching style of the faculty person, because faculty with disabilities have their own learning styles as well. I’m a very visual learner and a visual teacher, even though I’m now visually impaired. I’m blind, but when I was sighted, I was pretty visual. So there are things that are more efficient for me to do as a teaching professor that would be different than someone who’s sighted. So you could just take a look at it, and that could be a fantastic conversation for opening up inclusion and new ways of supporting accessibility in the pedagogy and the universal course design. And I think we’ll go to the final slide for me.
KRISTEN BETTS: Yep, I’ve got it up for you.
VALERIE HAVEN: So establishing a course development template is a really big conversation. We haven’t done that at my school, so I’m not going to insist that you do it at yours. It’s a very, very big conversation to ask your faculty to follow a template. What you can do to begin this conversation in terms of bringing accessibility inclusion throughout your entire online program is to begin to look at the content.
So this is a great way. It’s much less scary to the faculty, generally, instead of saying, by the way, your courses are inaccessible. We have faculty and staff that can’t support them well, we can’t get the students in well. Instead of saying you have to rip it down and start over, a great way to begin the conversation is to look at the content.
So in my experience as an instructional technologist, I find that, yes, there are barriers and limitations inside the technology that you need to pay attention to, but most of the time, the accessibility of a course has more to do with its design and with how its content is developed. So what I mean by that is that you may have PowerPoint slides in here, you may have video, you may have just PDFs. They sometimes are inaccessible all by themselves and that’s what’s causing the access issue inside the class. So it’s less to do with the LMS and more to do with the content.
So if you begin to talk to your faculty about just making the content accessible by making sure that you put up tagged PDF files that can be read by a screen reader, that your videos are captioned, and that your PowerPoints are posted in a couple of formats so that people can download them and read them, that will begin the conversation, and it’s easy to do. It doesn’t cost a lot of time and a lot of effort to start to work on the content. So the template is an up the road kind of conversation, but it’s a way to get started.
So training the instructional designers. I have a number of programs that I do with our instructional designers. And instructional designers are very busy, and they’re often quite overwhelmed, but what I’ve learned in terms of supporting faculty is not only does it help their work to know things about accessibility for their faculty with disabilities, it also helps them when they’re working with faculty that have other learning needs. Most of the time, if there’s somebody to help somebody create accessibility, the faculty are much more inclined to do it in their courses. If you say, by the way, it doesn’t work and you have to fix it, they won’t do so well.
And then the final thing that I wanted to say is to consider the possibility of either retaining a consultant or hiring someone onto your online team that is expert in issues of learner access and inclusion. We do this model here at our school, and what’s wonderful about is that this is a new, opening area for instructional designers to look at issues of access because it’s changing.
We just got up to speed with how to make our LMSs and our courses more accessible for people with disabilities in our faculty, and now we’ve got mobile learning. So mobile learning is going to be the new thing we’re going to have to make accessible next because online education moves forward all the time. So to be able to think about what kind of supports you can offer your staff as well as your faculty with disabilities would be awesome. So with that, I am going to turn the mic over to Alex.
KRISTEN BETTS: Valerie, thank you so much. Before I move to Alex in terms of the presentation, I’d like to let everybody know that if you click on the tab at the bottom where the Chat function is there, you can open this up and start posting your questions. So if you’ve been taking copious notes and writing down questions for the presenters, you can start posting then. I’m going to have Alex give his perspective, and then what we’ll do is move to the Q&A portion. So Alex, if you could begin, that would be wonderful.
ALEX COHEN: Wonderful, Kristen. Thank you. And if you wouldn’t mind driving, I would greatly appreciate that. Well, to start off with, beginning as an adjunct, to find out about adjunct opportunities, you need to find information through the university website. So I highly recommend that everybody’s general university job sites are accessible.Creating an Accessible Job Experience for Disabled Professors and Adjuncts
Going through a normal human resources process as any adjunct would have to do, is just like any other job. Is the I9 accessible, or the tax forms, or any other types of materials that are needed? Is it overwhelming for the amount of work for somebody to fill out all of these HR documents? And how fast is the turnaround to actually read and sign and send back everything? So just accessibility, or consideration of accessibility, really starts at the very beginning of the relationship.
Again, I mean, my relationship with the Hospitality Management Department started as a student, so luckily, I was already well aware of different aspects of the department as well and different aspects of our online system, just not really the back of the house. But as an adjunct, after the human resource process and contracting process, there’s the general university orientation.Training for Adjuncts and New Hires
It’s important to keep in mind that your students don’t care if you’re an adjunct professor or not. If they have questions, they have questions, and you need to appropriately answer those questions, hopefully correctly. So even though you could be teaching an online course, that student could be on campus– they don’t necessarily have to be across the country– and they want to have access to the university resources. So it’s really important for adjuncts to have the same information, as well as the actual program information.
Many adjuncts don’t really have teaching experience, and I was given a crash course in pedagogy, philosophy, and good teaching practices, which I found to be very helpful. Also, it’s important to note at this point, when I began as an adjunct, Drexel had already made the decision to upgrade their platform. So I was coming in at the very tail end of everything. So I just asked that there was a training video available for how to utilize the Grade Center back of the house system for our platform.
And the video was helpful, but training videos that show live screenshots with the mouse going around and somebody narrating what to do don’t really work that well because they don’t work well for screen readers. And a lot of the time, the narrators conducting these trainings say, if you click over here, you can clearly see that this happens, and I say, I can’t clearly see anything. So it’s just something to consider. And in the new platform, the new instruction and training is highly accessible.
I also was very, very lucky to have an exceptionally enthusiastic staff. They’re all very proud of my getting through the Master’s program and my decision to join as a faculty adjunct, and they were highly supportive. I actually was given one on one training, which I know would be very difficult in a larger university with a lot of adjuncts, but my instructional designer sat down with me and we went point by point what was happening with the class. And it was really a wonderful experience. I was teaching online and in the classroom. They would let me do anything that any other professor would do, and I really had to self-regulate and tell them that I probably shouldn’t proctor an exam unless I could just sit there and just randomly yell out from time to time for the students to keep their eyes on their paper.
But the initial training process was wonderful because it was accessible, and learning how to use a system really was not that bad. And I learned that one of the best practices would really be to have a consistent procedure and process for people to follow when they have problems or they need any kind of assistance for professors as well as students. The ODR department at Drexel really is fantastic, but I was given when I first started, if I have this type of problem, I need to reach out to ODR. If I have this type of problem, it’s my instructional designer. If I have this, I call the IT people. And if I have this, I call the Program Manager. It was very easy. It was very clear. There’s a clear delineation as to exactly who was responsible for what portion of the program. You can move on to the next slide, please.
KRISTEN BETTS: OK.Troubleshooting Inaccessible Course Materials
ALEX COHEN: So as an adjunct, there are a lot of different types of courses that you could be teaching. For example, if I was teaching the Introduction to Hospitality, of course, we all want to keep our course materials as recent as possible, but there are fewer changes that need to be made. But that doesn’t mean that I can be just handed a textbook and told, this is the material that we normally use for this. OK, I need to convert this to a readable format and review these course materials and get myself acclimated to exactly what’s happening here and familiarized with each weekly module for the program. So really, ample time to review the materials is truly necessary.
Now, in other cases, I taught a course, for example, in current events. And obviously, current events, you want it as current and up to date as possible. So this required a little bit more time to actually go through and find the appropriate materials, and to battle with maybe a little bit more editing than you would normally do.
I mean, it’s my opinion that when I’m teaching a course, I want the students to hear my voice. I want them to hear me lecture and have my opinions, and not necessarily the instructor who was before. So for example, on the Blackboard system, they would record a lecture over PowerPoint and put it in as a presentation, which is not accessible by a screen reader. If you pause the presentation and hover, your screen readers do not recognize any text. So I actually had to reach out to the professor who taught the class before to actually get all of her PowerPoints so I could go through and make my appropriate additions, as well as I made the decision to add an actual PowerPoint file, including all of my lecture notes, in an accessible format so anybody who would need access to that would have access.
As well as from time to time, there would be links where you would click on a link and an article would come up that would be a PDF that would be embedded, actually, in the system, and again, not accessible by a screen reader. So I’d need to look up the article and actually see if it’s pertinent to what’s happening that week, if it’s still current, if it’s still relevant. So needless to say, it’s a little bit more work to do a larger edit and you need more time to do these things.
Now, I actually had the opportunity to design a course from start to its completion, and this was much easier as we all know that retrofitting is truly a pain in the neck. So designing a course from the very beginning that would be accessible, because obviously, it has to be accessible for me or how am I going to do an effective job with my teaching? So designing this course was really, really a pleasure, particularly with the instructional designer. We keep talking about writing a paper about our experience of trying to design a course from the beginning and promote good practice.
But identifying your points of contact for assistance is absolutely necessary, and having a very clear channel to pursue to get information really will make the experience and the transition smoother. Again, most adjuncts are not professional teachers. They’re doing this in their spare time or some maybe out of the goodness of their hearts. Who knows whatever the reason. But they might need a little more support from time to time as they don’t have as much practice. Can I please have the next slide?
KRISTEN BETTS: Yeah, there you go.Troubleshooting Inaccessible University Tools
ALEX COHEN: Thank you so much. So again, in terms of the actual considerations, looking at how much editing really has to be done, if it’s not acceptable for the professor, it’s not going to be accessible for the students. So again, working with PowerPoint is difficult as well as working with certain PDFs. It all depends on how it’s laid out.
For example, I use three different screen readers. I use Kurzweil, ZoomText, and Jaws, and I find that each one really has strengths and benefits for very different areas. Kurzweil is really a remarkable system for reading articles and books, whereas ZoomText is really wonderful for me for surfing the web, and Jaws works much better with doing math and spreadsheets and–
HOST: I think we lost audio. Have we? All right. I see a problem Kristen’s audio. It’ll probably come back in a minute.
ALEX COHEN: –what have you, but if I, for example, try to use Jaws on our Blackboard platform, it’s a little bananas. There’s a lot going on and it reads everything on the screen, and I don’t need that, and it actually makes it more of a hassle. Quite honestly, I might not be using it right and I probably should talk to Valerie after the presentation and she can teach me.
So that brings me to navigating third party sites. For example, our school uses a–
KRISTEN BETTS: OK. It says that the audio is still there. Are you able to hear us?
ALEX COHEN: Can you hear me?
KRISTEN BETTS: I can hear you, Alex, but I’m not sure– Zeren , are you able to hear?
HOST: Now, yes, but there seems to be a general connection problem.
KRISTEN BETTS: Well, you’re going to hear.
ALEX COHEN: Shall I continue?
KRISTEN BETTS: Zeren , do you want to let us know what to do? Are you able to hear us now?
KRISTEN BETTS: OK, I’m going to try one more time. Zeren , are you able to hear while Alex wraps up? But if not, I’m just going to have to reboot and come back in. Well, why don’t I do this, as it looks–
ALEX COHEN: I only have another minute or two.
KRISTEN BETTS: OK. Alex says he’s got just a minute to wrap up, and so I’ll have him continue. I’m hoping that you’ll be able to hear us, and if not, we can always boot back up and you can start asking some of the questions of the audience.
ALEX COHEN: OK, so I’m just going to continue on with the navigation of third party sites, for example, our university uses a system called Turnitin that I didn’t realize was not accessible, at least with most of my screen reading software, until I started to use it. So I didn’t know until I used it, as well as certain statistical software only works with certain screen readers. For example, that SAS was really problematic, but SPFS seems to work well with Jaws.
And then I guess I’m just going to skip to adjuncts can be a great source of feedback for the university because we’re part of the team and happy to be so, but not necessarily part of the system. So we can really give a good external perspective that you might not be able to get from internal faculty. So in an effort to maybe establish and share some best practices, the opinions of adjuncts should be taken into serious consideration. Thank you.
KRISTEN BETTS: Alex, thank you so much. What we’re going to do is we’re going to move into the question and answer period. Zeren , and I’m going to have you look at the Discussion Board and see what questions there are, and then what we’ll do is depending on the number of questions, we will go back and ask our panelists just to share a brief 30-second overview of what they would like to share with the audience as we close. So Zeren, I’m going to give you the Talk button.
HOST: –and the one she mentioned about Chat, which allows you to get 25 people for $10. Valerie, can we get those again for everyone?
VALERIE HAVEN: The Chat client that I was talking about is called Accessible Event, and that’s www.accessibleevents– so that’s two words with no space, A-C-C-E-S-S-I-B-L-E-E-V-E-N-T– .com. And if you go onto their website, it will show you the different options that you can do a one-day, it’s called a Day Pass, for $10 for 25 seats, and then the price goes up from there. They have monthly arrangements, and your institution can actually have a year.
And one of the things that I did, just so you know, is that it is possible if you need live captioning in an online situation, we worked it out with our online captioning service that they rolled the cost of Accessible Event into the captioning services that we hired from them. So we paid one fee that included that as well. So it’s a very good program. It’s got a lot of usability to it. It has a voice chat in it, it’s got a text chat box, you can post slides in it, it’s very good. And it’s inexpensive, which is what I like about it. It’s also nice, like I said, you can use it for meetings. It can work as a standalone, or you can actually use it with your existing synchronous chat system.
The other one that I talked about was ATutor. ATutor, I think it might be www.atutor– which is just A-T-U-T-O-R– and I think it might be .ca. If you Google ATutor, you’ll find that it comes up from the University of Toronto. It’s basically a content platform but it’s simple to use. It’s free to anybody that wants to build a course in it. It also does have a few other features. And something called AChat, which is their accessible chat feature, is available there. And that actually is a text-based chat, so there isn’t any talking in that one, but that’s great for people who have speech limitations or who are deaf because it’s almost like a discussion board. And it actually could be used to replace a discussion board if that’s not accessible as well.
And then Instructor Canvas I think you probably know already. You can actually get a free course from them still. I think at some point, they may start charging for it. But you can build all these, you can embed them in your existing LMS platforms, and then you can have somebody assist with sending out messages, emails, or putting the grades in. So it is a nice solution. And sometimes, the simplest way to do it is just to basically put up web page. Just build a web page, put it into the course, and you’re good to go.
HOST: Thank you, Valerie. That was great. And one question was for our captions, actually, whether she’s using a voice to text device or typing it. Sally, are you typing or using a device?
VALERIE HAVEN: Me or Alexa?
HOST: No, this is for our captioner, Sally.
VALERIE HAVEN: Oh, for the captioner.
HOST: She says she’s typing it. Great job. You’re really fast. Excellent. So that’s that. Let me see what else we have. Some of the questions were quite specific, so I’m not going to go into those. We have a question about accessibility apps, if there are any accessible apps for smart phones, iPads, et cetera? It’s general to all the panelists, I believe. Alexa, go ahead.
KRISTEN BETTS: Alexa, did you have your hand up, because I’ve got the mic open for you.
ALEXA SCHRIEMPF: Yes, I do have my hand up. So I can answer in more detail about captioning if Sally doesn’t mind my elaborating on what she does. I think I know what she’s trying– Sally, may I explain what you do?
KRISTEN BETTS: Zeren, you’re going to have to be our intermediary and let us know.
HOST: Sure, sure.
ALEXA SCHRIEMPF: My guess is that since Sally says she’s typing, that she is a trained court reporter, which means that she has received training and learning a certain kind of phonetic language, and she’s using not a keyboard with the standard alphabet on it, but a phonetic keyboard. What she’s doing is pushing keys in special combinations to transcribe sound, and there’s a software on her device that transliterates the sounds into spelled words, and that’s why she’s able to do it so quickly. It is that correct, Sally?
HOST: She says yes, that is correct.
KRISTEN BETTS: Thanks.
ALEXA SCHRIEMPF: Yes, I’ll answer some questions about certain accessibility apps if people are interested in that. Should I go ahead and–
KRISTEN BETTS: Sure, please. Some of the questions coming in. That would be great.
ALEXA SCHRIEMPF: It just so happens that I attended a little conference provided by Hearing Loss Association of America local [INAUDIBLE] club earlier this week, and there are a couple of really awesome apps that I’m going to be using. One of them is for the iPad. It’s an app called Subtitles, and you can find it in the iTunes store for the iPhone, so you need to search under iPhone for it. It’s called Subtitles, and what this will allow you to do is download subtitles to any movie that’s out there, including ones that have been very recently released and are still in movie theaters.
The way these subtitles are run through this app is there’s a timing device in this app that plays the subtitles at the correct time. So if you are going to a movie or are showing a movie in your classroom and your student has an iPad, and you can’t get ahold of captions for some reason, if you can find subtitles online, you can use this app to download those subtitles, and when the movie starts, when you hear the first audio, you simply hit Play on your Subtitles. And then it’s pretty well synced.
So you have to have your movie playing on a different device than you have the app playing on your own device, or you have to have two devices. You can’t play them together on the same screen. But it’s one way of providing captions on the fly to whatever environment you’re in. I’m going to take my iPad to the movie theater, and sit in probably the back row, and play my subtitles. I just recently discovered that app and I haven’t had much to play with it, but I’m told that it’s very accurate. It’s not perfect, but very accurate.
There is another app for the iPad that I like to use. It’s Dragon Dictate. And it’s not accurate, but I find it very useful to use when attending meetings. I simply plug an external conference tabletop mic to my iPad, and turn on Dragon Dictate, and let it transcribe what’s said. Again, it’s not perfect, but for someone with a hearing loss who needs audio to text, it is a useful supplement in the absence of maybe this supported access site that Valerie just shared with us. So I’ll just put those two out there.Final Thoughts
KRISTEN BETTS: Thank you so much for your comments, Alexa. What we’ll do, because we are running out of time, I’m just going to ask each of our speakers if you can give us a 30-second overview or final comments that you would like to leave with our audience members before Zeren wraps up the session. So Jonathan, why don’t we start with you?
JONATHAN LAZAR: OK, I’ve turned the Talk button back on. So my final thought for everyone is that campus IT accessibility gets better when you focus on policy and process, and you don’t only focus on Disability Student Services or a small office like that, but you focus on throwing a large net, getting involved with the CIO, getting involved with Academic Affairs, getting involved with the provost. So through partnerships and through policy, we really can improve the situation for not only faculty, but also students with disabilities when it comes to accessible technology. Thank you.
KRISTEN BETTS: Thank you, Jonathan. Alexa?
ALEXA SCHRIEMPF: I really don’t have anything additional to add, so I’ll just pass it over to the next person.
KRISTEN BETTS: Wonderful. Valerie, any final comments?
VALERIE HAVEN: I really think of accessibility as an art form. I think that it’s a creative process. I think that all education has the element of access in it, and the exciting part, if you want to think of it this way, is to be able to tease out and magnify the aspects of accessibility that are already there so you can build on them and go to a new place.
KRISTEN BETTS: And Alex, any final comments?
ALEX COHEN: Sure. Accessibility is something to always be considered. It improves with open lines of communication and collaborative efforts. But always keep in mind that disabilities are not a homogeneous group. There are varying degrees and levels, and meeting individual needs through universal design is a great idea and something to be strived for, but don’t forget the individual.
KRISTEN BETTS: Thank you, Alex. I want to thank all of our speakers today. You have been phenomenal. Again, please share this archive it you can with people on your campus, other institutions. It really takes all of higher education and great leadership to ensure accessibility and faculty and student success. So Zeren, I’m going to pass this on to you. And please, if you could just wrap up and thank everybody for attending, that would be great.
HOST: Thanks, Kristen, for your effort and time for organizing this and making it happen, and thank you to our panelists for taking the time to be part of this, and also thanks to our sponsors, 3Play Media, University of Illinois College of Education, and Perkins e-Learning, for their contributions. Our next webinar, and the last one, will be held on April 23 at 2:00 PM Eastern. Again, I hope you’ll be able to join us for that one.
And as I mentioned before, all participants in today’s webinar will be receiving a follow-up email with your content and recording link, and also, we would like to follow up with a survey as well. Your opinions are very important for us. And before I wrap this up, I also want to thank our panelists and the participants who [INAUDIBLE] discussions with their questions and remarks.
And I also want to point out a few upcoming Sloan-C Events, one of which actually is related to this topic. Our workshop schedule is available at our website, and we also have a half-day course on accessibility, “Easy Course Enhancements to Improve Access.” Valerie will be facilitating it. It’s a half day workshop. So if you’re interested in the topic, registrations are open.
Our webinars are available at our website webinar listing. URL is on the website. Our next conference is 6th Annual International Symposium: Emerging Technologies for Online Learning. It will be between April 9 and 11 in Las Vegas, Nevada. We also have a virtual option for those who cannot make it there in person. And thank you again for joining us, and hope to see you in other Sloan-C events. Have a nice rest of the day.