Associate Professor Emma Power, a speech pathologist in the UTS Graduate School of Health, is doing a great job of improving accessibility in her subject Research Design in Speech Pathology. I caught up with her to see how she uses the Accessibility Checker in Canvas to do this.

You might have seen our Students Explain Digital Accessibility videos, where students with lived experiences of disability discussed their accessibility requirements. In the videos below, Emma demonstrates three important ways of ensuring that Canvas content is accessible.

Part 1: Finding the Canvas Accessibility Checker

Part 1: Finding the Canvas Accessibility Checker

Part 2: Solving issues the Canvas Accessibility Checker

Part 2: Solving issues with the Canvas Accessibility Checker

Part 3: After using the Canvas Accessibility Checker

Part 3: After using the Canvas Accessibility Checker

Has it been an easy process to use the Canvas Accessibility Checker?

I think at first, I wasn’t 100% sure what some things were and so, I had to kind of work that out. By being within the ‘Edit’ function, you have to check every time. So, I’m trying to do that more routinely. But once my subject is set up, I couldn’t see that there would be a lot of reasons for me to keep doing that over and over. I would always just do a check if there were any changes in the accessibility algorithms for what it’s trying to pick up or if I put in new content.

Do you think you’ve become more aware of how you’re putting in content to avoid issues?

I think so. I’m a speech pathologist, so, from my perspective accessibility is something I’m well aware of anyway. But there are different ways that I understand accessibility than what might be some of the universal standards.

Now every time I put an image in, I’m very careful with the alternative text. I’m much more descriptive than I used to be, because I think if a person can’t see this image, the alternative text is the only thing that they have to describe it. So often now, it can sometimes be a paragraph, if it’s an important image, and that way a reader would be able to actually get a really good idea of what’s there.

I think it does help you. And I think it means that having it on each page makes it like an accountability checklist, where you go through and just double-check. It gives you balloons and says there are no issues, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t, that just means it hasn’t picked up any issues.

Any other lessons learned?

I remember once, a student needed my PowerPoint presentations to be reversed, it had to be a black background with white text. A lot of my PowerPoints have additional text boxes and things like that, so I had to do every slide one by one. And it was really, very time-consuming. Now I realised that if I used the text boxes that are already there, then I could apply a style, and it will do it to everything on the slide. So the more you do fancy things, sometimes you make it harder for those systems to be easily changed and be flexible for other people. So that was a big lesson.

I’ve seen the Students Explain Digital Accessibility videos on campus, of the students who have a disability and are advocating on behalf of what they need. That’s actually been the thing that keeps it top of mind for me.

Support for accessible content

It was great seeing how Emma approached accessibility in her subject to make it inclusive for all students. Thank you!

If you would like help getting started to do the same, we’ve developed the LX Accessible Content Practices (including an accessible PDF checklist), or if you need further help get in touch with the LX.lab via ServiceConnect.

Image: @Olloweb via Unsplash

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