Find web resources with guidelines for each of the online learning elements in the list below, selecting those that would be most useful in your context.
I have recently changed jobs and, as part of my new role, I am supporting a student with a severe visual impairment in her second year studying a law degree at university. She lost her sight suddenly at age 16 years and has problems remembering the layout of web pages etc. I started working with her last week and found that she is struggling to access some resources and so I thought that this exercise would be useful to examine which guidelines would be useful to ensure the resources were accessible for her. She is using a pen drive version of Supernova.
- Web pages
Studying law relies heavily on being able to use two specialist databases hosted on websites: Westlaw and LexisNexis Butterworths. Previous students I have worked with have managed to use these sites on their own once they were used to them but my current student is still having problems after a complete year so I think it is time to look for other solutions!
Guidelines for web pages do apply to this area but the added database functions add to the complexity of each page. Searching the web gave me the information that Westlaw is available as a plain text version in the US but I can find no link to it in the UK. I have emailed both companies for further information.
For general staff guidelines on creating accessible web pages I like the WebAim version of the guidelines as these provide a basic list with links that explain in more details how to create the features required.
- PowerPoint presentations
The student has problems accessing PowerPoint presentations and has organised for her support workers to transcribe the slides into plain text. Her electronic notetaker then adds lecture information underneath each heading so all the information is in one place.
The guidelines that I prefer in this case are still the WebAIM version as they are suitable for lecturers and contain guidance for all three versions of Microsoft Office currently in use!!
- Word documents
The student copes well with Word documents but, due to the versatility of having all the versions of Word currently in use, I still have to go with the WebAIM version of the guidelines.
- PDF documents
The student has had problems with inaccessible pdf documents in the past and now refuses to accept them from lecturers. She insists on all documents being given to her in Word. Having studied the guidelines on how to convert documents and the lengthy checking process required, I can understand that many busy lecturers just convert and trust they are OK without checking them. I looked at several versions of the guidelines but many were very much out of date and only quoting Word 2003. Many also had their own guidelines but referred to WebAIM guidelines as a definitive source. I did like the YouTube video that explained how to produce pdf documents but this was with an older version of Word as well.
- Flash animations
I was quite surprised to find that my daughter was writing an accessible website in Flash - firstly that she could do it at all and secondly that it could be made accessible! Adobe reports that the latest version is now very good with screen readers whereas the older versions needed a non-Flash alternative. This information seems to vary with who you talk to and which site you read! WebAIM guidelines still say that it is very difficult to access and alternatives should be provided.
- Web video
I found it difficult to find anything between far too general and specific uses for individual programs. I eventually found the Skills for Access guidelines which were at the right level for general guidance for lecturers.