AHEAD webinar: A Clear Standard for Access to Instruction

AHEAD, the Association on Higher Education and Disability, presented an audio conference covering accessible instructional materials, particularly  online items.  A review of different case studies regarding current problems with accessibility compliance, recent legal complaints and resolutions, and updates regarding arenas for exploration were a part of the panel presentation and discussion.

  • ADA crafted in absence of Internet, but the Internet is a key education tools today
  • Recap recent 2013 UC Berkeley settlement – Full settlement
    • this is a settlement between parties, so it cannot be used as legal precedent nor does these even push for adoption at other UCs or other universities throughout California
    • this took 7 years to make this happen
    • 6 pages of alternate media guidelines
    • university will instruct students how to provide notice, use resources
    • annual education available for staff and faculty members — including adjunct professor
    • faculty must put in reading list 7 week before the semester – given time for alternate information
    • students get support from Disability Services
    • major library provisions
    • commitment to update online resources and provide adequate staffing
    • system of tracking that will allow the student to track their accommodations request and timeline of completion
    • faculty can be sanctioned for not complying
    • required readers have a faster turn around than recommended readers or materials
    • access to the library –> a continuing problem for the community
      • these are usually accessed from other locations
      • hard to  make sure every piece from a community is made accessible
      • important to consider difficulty of accessibility of library materials
      • libraries are not responsible for items they do not produce
      • need to ensure basic level of accuracy in scanned materials, not necessarily provide access to pictures, one-on-one assistance, or manage foreign language items
    • monitoring – annual report, student satisfaction, opportunities for student compliant filing

Judy – Office for Civil Rights in mid-Atlantic region

  • Office of Civil Rights is not bound by Section 508
  • Remember that is not just the visually impaired student that we are approaching accessibility standards – hearing impaired, non-mouse users
  • very few library systems own the databases are considered under contractual agreement and should fall under Section 508
  • Title 2 – covers website as it impacts communication with others, not just students, faculty, and staff
  • giving a student a person to read the website or course page is not equivalent status
  • online courses are covered and must comply with accessibility standards
  • you may also need to review your own state law
  • South Carolina Technical College system – reviewed 2 college websites
    • email systems, student information systems, course management system, grade reporting systems, the library
    • also talked to consumers
    • Things found:
      • found that PDFs were not tagged
      • reading order wasn’t structured correctly
      • some scans were just pictures, not OCRed
      • videos often didn’t have labeling
      • video controllers are also often not accessible
      • alt attributes for websites are often missing
      • form fields not completely filled out
      • dropdown menus can be inaccessible through 2 ways
      • CMS was generally fine but the content itself in the online courses that is not fine
      • campus calendars not being accessible by screen readers
    • hoping to get DOJ information regarding web accessibility – this got pushed back again this summer
    • Next arenas: MOOCs and online instruction

Ann Langeford – atty with the Disability Rights section of the Dept of Justice Civil Rights Division

  • This dept accepts complaints from students
  • DOJ Title 2 enforcement matter
    • Louisiana Tech scenario – AHEAD report
    • MyOA – students login and were required to get information, feedback, homework completion
    • university will do a complete review of materials to ensure accessibility
    • university has committed to only purchase, develop, or use technology that does not exclude students
    • deadline to meet this new demand is end of 2014
    • DOJ regulation update: currently being reviewed
      • will define scope of applicability
      • propose technical standards necessary to comply
      • Title II notice is Nov 2013 and Title III is March 2014 — provide time for comments after release

Questions

What do you do about active learning environments and accessibility information?

  • need to make an effort in advance to provide copies in accessible format

What tools do you recommend as website validators?

Do we have to inform students who are doing presentations about this accessibility issue?

  • Can’t put burden on student presenters, but may need students to present information earlier so the school can transform the materials

What about library resources (which are often 3rd party provided) and meeting accessibility standards? (the real question was too painful to completely summarize, but this is the main thread)

  • Penn State is testing Summon and providing feedback to
  • UC Berkeley settlement provides some language
  • need to make a market that expects the accessible materials and not settling for inaccessible materials

What about out of pocket expenses between the traditional used book vs the unbound and rebound used book that was scanned for students?

  • Berkeley settlement somewhat addresses this but no clear indication that the law would require recompense for plausible loss of marketability

What requires publishers to provide full text articles or videos in accessible format?

  • Nothing – need to develop the market which will create the demand for publishers to do this

Emerging use of animations, interactive games, and other multimedia or simulations as part of online courses.  How to prepare/use these?

Twitter conversation held at #clearstandard

For more information on the session, you can visit http://www.ahead.org/events-and-workshops/audio-conference

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