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Solutions for Inclusion Conference in Guelph, ON

Carrie Anton and I (Sandra Law) will be attending the Solutions for Inclusion Accessibility Conference in Guelph, Ontario in late May. I will be blogging leading up to that conference and during the conference. I will post our presentation on this site for anyone who is interested. We will be talking about our experiences with accessibility here at AU specifically the development of the guidelines, how they have been implemented, etc. The conference URL is provided below.


  • The conference presentation that Carrie and I are finalizing deals with the development of the accessibility guidelines at AU and their implementation in the course development process, specifically in mathematics courses (e.g. Math 265). An article* on eTexts, mathematics courses and students with visual impairments points out that there is a lack of research in this area. This gap is a critical one as the authors of the article point out because mathematics is the foundation of science and engineering disciplines. Adequate support for students with visual impairments can produce benefits for other groups as well (e.g. ESL learners, students with learning disabilities) who use technology to translate text to speech. MathML encodes meaning into online mathematical expressions allowing them to be translated and spoken unambiguously by screen readers and applications like Design Science's MathType. Math 265 was the first mathematics course to have its study guide converted from LaTeX to MathML.

    *Bouck, E.C. & Meyer, N.K. (2012). eText, Mathematics and Students with Visual Impairments: What Teachers Need to Know. Council for Exceptional Children, 45(2), 42-49.

    Sandra Law May 9, 2013 - 9:41am

  • At the keynote speech of the conference on May 28th Derek Featherstone emphasized the importance of approaching accessibility holistically rather than using a checklist approach. One recommendation was to identify the three top accessibility issues with a product/service and to address them. And then proceed t the next set of issues. Testing is important throughout the development cycle and should not be limited to minimum standard - test priority A, AA, and AA. Accessibility checkers/validation software only identify 25% of the issues so it is important to involve end users in the testing process. It is also important not to assume that a change that enhances accessibility for one group has minimal benefits for other users. For example, a variety of people may choose to use the keyboard only (sans mouse) - someone with carpal tunnel, people with limited mobility, arthritis, and users of text to speech (voice over) software.

    Sandra Law May 29, 2013 - 11:13am

  • There were a number of interesting presentations during the conference which provided a more nuanced approach to accessibility/inclusion in the context of education and business.

    Universal Design Across Disciplines (Jay Dolmage, Editor Canadian Journal of Disability Studies)

    Jay Dolmage talked about universal design in the context of university facilities as well as course design. He provided attendees with a document that explored application of UD throughout the learning experience of the student. One of the areas that he covered was assessments/assignments.

    Assignment development process

    • Provide clear instructions about assignment objectives and desired outcomes
    • Provide exemplars of assignments as well as examples of unique submissions to give students a sense of the range of possibilities
    • Model 'tolerance for error' in your assignments
    • Scaffold large assignments so that students understand their trajectory of their work. For example, have students submit an outline and annotated bibliography for part marks if the final assignment is a research paper.
    • Design assignments so that they are flexible, that is, allow students can meet requirements by submitting in a variety of formats (oral, poster, podcasts, written, multimedia, journal)
    • Allow students to share draft work with instructors and peers (if appropriate)


    • Focus on content when evaluating work don't be hyper-corrective
    • Use rubrics in a manner that students can fully understand them.
    • Offer feedback that helps students improve their work
    • Consider using the mp3 recorder or video chat for comments on student assignments

    Real Time Captioning in F2F classroom (Charles Silverman & Stephen Hockema)

    A presentation on real-time captioning in the classroom explored the fact that most people (speaker suggested this was 99% of people in this category) with hearing loss have some residual hearing and this group does not tend to be fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). One of the speakers who has experienced hearing loss most of his life began his own university career in the 1970s using a fairly primitive system for notetaking - the tape recorder. The system he used at the time was not optimal - it recorded background noise as well as the lecturer and it made it difficult for him to attend to the speaker. It also meant that he spent a lot of time transcribing his notes into a text format. The system he and his fellow speaker were proposing involved the use of real time captioning (using offsite or onsite interpreters or software) which also allows for real time comment/correction on the part of audience members. The speaker suggests that this approach is more economically viable because it has the potential to benefit all students given that it generates a lecture with captions (and a transcript) that can reviewed by all students (including ESL, students who missed a class due to illness, students with disabilities, etc.). The approach can improve the quality of the audio recording and remove confusion that can be caused if there are multiple speakers who interrupt each other or who speak without a microphone. Approach can been seen to use the wisdom of the crowd by formally/informally assigning roles to participants: editor (subject matter expert), content (URLs, references), annotation/general feedback/organization (students & public participation), agitators (stir the pot), and moderators. Indicated there were still issues to work out about ownership of content and privacy.

    Tactile Graphics (Charts, Maps) for People with Visual Impairments

    Presentation by a company that produces tactile graphics called Tactile Vision Inc. They produce 2D tactile graphics using thick cardstock in a standard size of 11.5" by 11". The kinds of graphics they produce include maps, floor plans, emergency exit routes, graphs, flow charts. The images are 'read' by touch. They use a variety of techniques to distinguish between different elements in a tactile graphic: raised lines, varying line thickness, dashed or dotted lines, textures, raised shapes, and symbols. They remove any embellishment from files that will not be useful to people with visual impairments.

    Sandra Law June 3, 2013 - 3:36pm

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