Given that the law requires districts to provide accessible materials, including curricular content and websites to students and the community, we encourage you to learn about resources, tips, and information to build accessibility into your educational materials and services. Join us for this webinar to hear from district leaders who have made accessibility a cornerstone of their school district.
- [Anamaria] Welcome to this CTD webinar, our webinar today is Making it Happen, Addressing Digital Accessibility. The Center on Technology and Disability in partnership with the Consortium for School Networking are pleased to present the digital accessibility toolkit, what educators need to know. Today our presenters are Holly Doe, director of technology from the Pelham School District in New Hampshire, Mike Jamerson, director of technology at the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation, Alise Crossland, senior researcher at CTD and the American Institutes for Research and Tracy Gray, managing director Center on Technology and Disability and American Institutes for Research. So I will go ahead and let the presenters get started.
- [Alise] Great, thank you so much, Anamaria. Hi everyone, this is Alise Crossland. And I am ... A senior researcher at American Institutes for Research working as part of the center on Technology and Disability, CTD, and our goal at CTD is to establish a learning and technical assistance center designed to increase the capacity of families, school systems, TA providers, and SEA and LEA leaders. CTD is administered by FHI 360, the American Institutes for Research and the Pacer Center, and we're funded by the US Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs.
And we're very excited today to partner with Cosin and bring you some stories of digital accessibility and personalized instruction from two really excellent district leaders, Mike Jamerson and Holly Doe. Here we all are. Briefly, I am going to give a very quick overview of the digital accessibility toolkit that CTD has created as part of a cooperation with Cosin and we recently released an updated version of that toolkit reflecting some of the changes on federal law related to digital accessibility, and I'll be handing it over to Holly from Pelham in New Hampshire who will be talking about the work they've done in her district and then we'll hear from Mike Jamerson about some of the work they've done in Bartholomew Consolidated School District in Indiana.
At the end, we'll have some suggested resources. We'll send out the slides and archived webinar video after the webinar and we'll also be able to take questions from anybody in the audience. So some of you may already be familiar with the digital accessibility toolkit that we released last year with Cosin. We've recently put out an updated version of this toolkit, actually, I'm going to throw the direct link to the updated version of the toolkit into the chat window. To add some new resources to the toolkit and update changes to section 508 of the Rehab Act which has some additional guidance now about web accessibility guidelines. So I'm gonna do just a very quick top level overview of the toolkit to set the stage before we hear from Holly and Mike and so that we're all on the same page in terms of using the same definition for things and thinking about the same things in the same way.
So when we're talking about accessible content, we're talking about content that people with disabilities can navigate, perceive and interact with. And it's content that considers physical, visual, speech, auditory, neurological and cognitive disabilities. And as you may know, as I've alluded to with the updates to the toolkit, digital accessibility is a law and this has become a really hot topic for a lot of schools and districts as they think about how to ensure that their websites that they use to communicate with families and community stakeholders are accessible, how to ensure that learning materials are accessible for students and how to ensure that third party learning applications or third party applications we might be using for things like school lunches or for communicating with families are accessible so that parents can be engaged in what their students are doing in schools.
Now beyond accessibility being the law and being something that we all do need to think about when we're communicating with students or communicating with the public and putting out learning information, it's also essential for our mission as educators, right? We ... Cannot meet our mission to be addressing the needs of all of our students and all of their learning needs if we have things that are inaccessible or inaccessible to their families and make it so that parents cannot actively participate in what their children are learning in school and so while universal design is a legal obligation that we all are responsible for, it really is essential to ensure that all of our students are accessing the learning content and having the same sorts of educational opportunities that we want all of our students to have.
So Holly and Mike will talk quite a bit more about universal design and what that looks like in their district and talk about personalized instruction using accessible technology, but I wanted to set the stage so that we all share a definition of what we're talking about when we're talking about universal design. It means that all products and the built environment are designed to be used by everyone, regardless of their age, ability or status. And it's an understanding that accessible and inclusive design, whether we're talking about technology platforms or physical spaces or learning materials that we're using with our students, those accessible features benefit everybody, not just our students or users with disabilities.
And as an example of that, I wanted to highlight some of the accessibility features that we all use every day and many of which started out as assistive technology or were specifically designed for users with disabilities, but particularly as more and more people use mobile devices to access content, we use zooming in every day, we use closed captioning whenever we need to watch a video and we are somewhere where we can't have sound on, we all use touch screens. Many of us use voice recognition and text to speech regularly. And a lot of us really take advantage of having visual support for auditory information. So as Holly and Mike go through the work they've done in their districts, we want everybody to really think about what other benefits your students would receive if all the learning opportunities in your school were accessible and universally designed. And with that, I'm gonna hand it off to Holly to talk about the work they've been doing in Pelham, Holly?
- [Holly] Okay, thank you, I'm Holly Doe, I'm the director of technology in the Pelham school district and we are ... We're kind of in a Southern location. We're really only 30 minutes north of Boston so when people ask where Pelham New Hampshire is, often times I'll say, you know, just 30 minutes north of Boston, we're right on the border. We're a small community, grades pre-K through 12. We have 1966 students, 9% on free and reduced lunch, 16% special education. We are a future ready school district and we are currently one to one in grades three through 12. And as you can see from that little map, we're a really small campus which makes a lot of things really, makes it really nice. You can walk between the schools. It makes a lot of partnerships and collaboration between the schools possible.
As I mentioned, we're a future ready school district and this is really where, you know, when we talk about that universal, UDL, we talk about it in a lot of ways to teachers, we don't always use the UDL necessarily acronym but we talk about personalizing learning a lot. So as a future ready school district we have an emphasis on that, through our flexible learning spaces, how we group students and competency based education, so we're really looking at, we're standards based K through eight and competencies at the high school. We also work to personalize professional learning for our teachers. We do that through book clubs around personalized learning and UDL, online modules and we've had some digital cohorts over the past year, where our teachers go through small group work, learning different pedagogies, centered around personalizing learning for all students.
And we're always concerned about that equitable access which I'll talk a little bit more about but equitable access not just, with devices but also wireless capacity and the resources that we give our students that they access through those devices. So where we began, really looking at assistive technology and helping our special education population a little bit more, in 2012, we really didn't have very many policies or processes around assistive tech and we had many outside complications. I don't know if other districts have experienced this type of thing, but we would get an outside consultation It would come in and we would, in the technology department, hear about that and have to respond to that and install different software on different computers, have different devices in different locations and it was really inconsistent across our three schools but we always did what we needed to do for each one of those kids, so we also had a BYOD implementation, so prior to one to one, we were BYOD.
But what we saw ... In our community was our students brought in a lot of cellphones, which we can take advantage of, but having a larger, you know, Chromebook type device was much more beneficial, something consistent so teachers knew what the students could access in the classroom really, really helped, so that BYOD implementation was kind of limiting and the support and planning for our staff was limited. We had one district wide tech integrator and we have increased that over time. So our main goal based on those needs were to increase the available tools and training for assistive tech and just generally increase the awareness of what we already had and what it was capable of doing for students and stuff, and then to develop really concrete policies, procedures and processes when people were considering assistive technology.
And this is just an example, you know, we made a lot of flowcharts, flowcharts were really useful and we shared those with our special education staff. So this was one of our early ones where you just said, okay, so you're considering assistive technology, you're considering that you need something for this student. Let's look at what we already have in our district and how what we already have can serve that student and then if that doesn't serve that student, then we take the steps to get an outside consultation if necessary but we had some forms and we had implementation forms that staff would work with their tech integrator or we had an assistive technology consultant who would come in once a week and we really worked as a group to try to make these things consistent, uniform and the same across the three schools.
And more recently we've been sort of talking about it as a three tiered type of system, almost like an RTI, things people are very familiar with, but that three tiers being that our real goal is to look at all of our students and what we can build in for resources to make learning accessible for all of our students and so right now that primarily consists of Chromebooks. We have Read, Write, Google across our entire district, K through 12, and for all teachers and that allows that speech to text and text to speech and a lot of other features simplifying webpages, removing ads and things like that if it's distracting to students and that's caught on amongst our students.
It doesn't matter whether you're a special education student or not, every student has access and they use it differently. We also are a Google Apps district. That's made a lot of things possible for our students. And we offer online textbooks and openly resourced materials and through Read Write Google, virtually all of that can be accessed and read aloud if necessary. And of course as you get to, you know, the students who have different needs, we go to that second tier and that third tier so in our second tier we realize that some kids may need that iPad and they may need that touch surface, they may need a Bookshare account based on their, you know, learning disability and you know, just depending on those, whether it's visual disabilities, we go up higher in those tiers so that's a kind of way we've been talking about it most recently is a three tiered toolbox that we have available, but the ultimate goal is to create tools that are accessible for all of our students.
And this is just a graphic from one of our digital cohorts and our digital cohort groups, we do these small trainings with small groups of teachers that stay together for a couple months and this is some common language we put out last year to those groups and we can see, universal design for learning is part of that, that's one of the acronyms, but we also have blended learning, flipped learning, project based learning, all kinds of different ways for our staff to learn how to personalize learning for our students. And you know, ultimately I think that is our goal is, you know, how can we possibly, you know, how can we address the needs of all kids regardless of their disabilities because our goal is to meet the needs of all and in our district our mission is to inspire success one mind at a time.
So final just recommendations from our experiences at Pelham I would say to create strong partnerships between the technology department and the special education department. We would have monthly meetings, myself and the special ed director and we'd bring in the assistive technology expert in our district and we'd sit around the table and talk about kids and just kind of troubleshoot what processes need to be worked on, what things need to be refined, we redid forms at one point to make it easier for teachers to access the resources they needed and we have that ongoing conversation. We also, I would suggest you build those systems of support in your building.
Primarily, we build the systems of support with our technology integrators, our coaches and they are there to support the majority of the students there and they can't be experts in every software, in every piece of hardware, but they do know the majority and they know Read Write Google very well. And develop policies and processes to empower your staff. The goals of those forms was really to, you know, teach our staff what was available and to empower them to get what they needed for their students. Purchase products for all students. That was really our consideration with Read Write Google with how could we bring something in that would help all and you know, view assistive tech as a three tiered process so those would be my final recommendations. I'm really excited to hear what Mike has to say more specifically around UDL 'cause that's where we're going is starting to bring more of that specific language in as we move forward.
- [Mike] Thank you, Holly.
- [Alise] We do have a quick question for Holly, Mike, before you get started, Roz wants to know, how do you deal with student data privacy laws and access to support such as google apps extensions, et cetera?
- [Holly] So as far as our student access, I think what they're asking is about our student access to the Google Apps and the privacy surrounding Google Apps specifically. And our parents do sign off on a Google Apps agreement at the beginning of the year with online registration. We talk about offering that tool as, you know, all the features that that does offer to students and we also scale what we give students for apps, so our students in primary school, they do not have access to email but they have access to Google Drive and when they get to middle school they have email but not outside of the school and then we gradually increase that responsibility when they get to high school, so ... You know, it's very specific and we get parents to agree to that. Specifically to a Google Apps agreement, acknowledging that we give students an account and giving us permission to give students an account. As far as extensions, yes, we ... We do open extensions up and we set them down as necessary so we give some freedom so that staff can try certain extensions, but we do keep a close eye on that.
- [Alise] Great, thank you, sorry about that, Mike. Take it away.
- [Mike] Oh, that's quite okay, thank you very much. Good afternoon, I'm Mike Jamerson and as you heard earlier I'm from Bartholomew Consolidated which is located in Southern Indiana, oh, are we shooting ahead here? Let me back up. The bridge is important here, what happened to my bridge? There we go. The bridge here you see is important because it serves to remind me of a couple of things that I wanted to start out with. First of all, Columbus is known for its architecture and because of that, the universal design which is really an architectural, as you heard earlier, an architectural concept, makes sense, made plenty of sense to us and so it was almost natural that we would look into universal design for learning.
But the bridge also speaks to me as a metaphor for our journey towards accessibility and that our destination really is in providing the very best instruction for all of our students. Holly mentioned earlier the idea of disability and addressing disabilities. We like to think in Columbus about the concept of all disability being contextual. You mentioned using closed caption when you want to listen to a webinar, but by the same token, if you're in a loud space, even though your hearing may be excellent, you may not be able to hear what's on the program without closed captioning so that gives us a sense of why it's important to focus on disability being contextual but it also, and the other concept that's important is thinking about remembering that we're trying to instruct to the margins, we're trying to reach out and widen the margins for our kids, so very quickly, Columbus, Indiana.
Bartholomew Consolidated, we're about 12 thousand students located in southeastern Indiana, midway between Indianapolis and Louisville. We have students that range literally from six weeks all the way to adult ed. And our district covers over 330 square miles with 20 instructional sites, free and reduced is about 43% and we have, and that's increased by 10 real percentage points in the last decade. We have 73% Caucasian, 14% Hispanic is our next largest ethnic group, approximately 900 ELL students, but our students altogether speak over 54 different languages. So as I look at our journey, it was interesting, years ago, or several years ago when I started thinking about this and how did we get there, I looked at our journey with respect to universal design for learning and I found that it mapped very well to this particular change management model called the Edgar model, but it also maps very closely with what we believe and think about universal design in the district. So in 2001 and 2002 we started looking at universal design as many people do from the standpoint of our special ed organization, but we also quickly began seeing a compelling challenge to teach all students and universal design seemed to offer that vehicle for us.
Our leadership was very essential in communication and providing us the leadership and impetus to move forward and I think about this as the why part of universal design or part of the why in universal design in terms of starting to focus us on multiple means of ... Engagement. So, between 2003 and 2006, we began to make a larger commitment to universal design, it became part of the instructional technology plans for several of our schools as we expanded that and brought it into a larger venue. And really underscored that commitment. We, between 2006 and 2008, we really started focusing on the knowledge aspect or the what that we need to know, the representation aspects of universal design. And so that was our opportunity to focus on our initial staff development, our Harvard UDL institute attendance, as well as creating our own UDL forum in Columbus each summer where anywhere from 125 to 175 teachers come to learn more about UDL practice in their classroom.
From an ability or a how standpoint, how we, what our means of action is, we did have a careful rollout to make sure that the universal design concepts were understood, that people were ready to use them, and to develop that expertise, that internal expertise. Between 2008, 2011 we started to create instructional consultation teams whose focus specifically was on how to use universal design to help address specific instructional issues within a classroom and again some of this focus might be on an individual student, but at a larger venue, larger scene, it was to focus on how do we bring our students, how do we bring our instruction to a place where it can reach all of our students without focusing on a specific individual. From 2012 to the present really has been what I call reinforcement, and this is the part where we begin to bring ourselves to drill back down and look deeper into what we're doing with universal design.
Our instructional consultation teams have morphed into universal design coordinators at each building. The broad, we're doing broad PD using our universal design principles and so we focus whenever we do professional development, underscoring the whys for engagement purpose before we get into the what and the how of what that professional development is about. We've also begun to create what we call schoolwide learning outcomes, which is a way for us to measure some of those softer pieces that aren't on our high stakes testing as a way of measuring folks and finally celebration where we come back and talk to, we identify individuals throughout the corporation or the district who are engaged in universal design practice We highlight some of those each month throughout the year. So that really brings me to the section on strategies for success, how did we get here?
That was kind of our roadmap and our journey, but it's an important part to think about this both from instruction and from technology. The very first piece in our strategy for success was building bridges. We collaborated with, we have a wonderfully strong relationship with businesses, higher ed, the health community, we have a community education coalition in Columbus, as well as a ... A funding source in Columbus, all of which have helped us work to develop our universal design efforts. We've also worked very closely with Cast and with individuals who are experts in the field such as Louis Lord Nelson, I mentioned the universal design forum, we frequently engage folks from across the US who are also implementing universal design as those experts that can help us go deeper into that.
And the other, so ... The next piece, really, is supporting the commitment and practice of UDL. We do that from an instructional standpoint as well as a technology standpoint. And so universal design for learning has moved from being an initiative in the early part of 2000, the 2000 to 2010, to being our framework for instructional design. Everything we look at goes through the lens of universal design, whether that's a piece of software as we look at products, for example, we will ask ourselves what do our students need in terms of text to speech and so just as Holly and Pelham do, we're using Read, Write for Google. We look at our students, for example, a student with visual impairment, we may look to see what kinds of technologies, such as a touch screen, a larger screen image, text to speech, how do those help that student from a universal design, how do, and we've walked away quite honestly from some grant opportunities or partnership opportunities because those particular activities didn't underscore what we're doing in universal design.
We moved from just the universal design concept to really focusing on the concept of all of our students as well as adults as ... Expert learners, how do we bring those folks to be expert learners who are resourceful and knowledgeable, strategic and goal directed and purposeful and motivated? And we look at those aspects whenever we design or develop instruction, whether it's for students or for teachers, or staff. And most recently we've started to reach down even deeper into how do these pieces, how do these barriers interact with the cultural situations that our students bring to us and how can we be culturally responsive to our students' needs through the lens of universal design?
Final, third, moving from silos to collaboration. We do serve about ... A large portion of our 330 square mile footprint is rural but we have ... A pledge to not have silos within the corporation and that's been an important part of the relationship and the communication that takes place between technology and instruction so that as we look at those pieces, whether it's a program, whether it's building, constructing a new building or facility, that instruction technology, facilities, as well as our architects are all sitting at the table together to talk about how does this instruction fit and meet the needs of students and how does that support those students? Finally, professional development really on a broad scale and I think the important piece, we know that from universal design from learning, we have learner variability and various individuals learning in different ways and having different needs, and one of the things that we've strived to do is to meet our learners where they are.
So we have formal training, we have building level training. We provide training through web and social media, all designed to look and focus on different ways that we can communicate with our adult learners. So. That brings us to what kinds of recommendations, what could I offer or provide in terms of suggestions for implementing universal design. I think one of the important things that we did from the very start was start small. If you look at, if you get down to the checkpoints in universal design, you find that there's 27 or 31 different little things that you can check. We started working at the very large principle level. What are the three principles of engagement, of action and expression and representation?
So we started there small and then grew as we developed expertise in those and our teachers became comfortable with looking and understanding the concepts of a multiple means of representation and expression. Then we could reach into questions about at the deeper level of the guidelines and checkpoints that are in universal design. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. That's really critical in terms of what we've done from a technology standpoint. Working with instruction, as I mentioned earlier. Communication and breaking down those silos really goes hand in hand with the collaboration. Valuing resources, our resources, we happen to have a very good infrastructure, a solid infrastructure, but one of the things that we learned very early on is that universal design does not have to mean high tech.
There are very good and excellent low tech ways of bringing the same kinds of items into play and so understanding that every resource, whether it's ... A wireless environment, whether it's one to one, whether it's only lab based computers or mobile carts, all have their own ways in which they can support the universal design for learning. Empowering your teachers from the standpoint of encouraging them to reflect on the technology, again, an early question, we didn't ask our teachers why they needed something. What we wanted them to think about was what they were doing and how they were doing it? So it became really a focus on how does this play into what's going on in my classroom and what we're doing?
This last one, I call it burning the ships. Whether it's universal design, in this particular case, I coined this because I spoke to how we implemented our learning management system in that we eliminated all the rest of them. I think an important point around this is when you're in the process of burning the ships, be sure you get the people off the ship before you set fire to it. Quite often, we found that we needed to provide them supports, provide them props that would help them move from where they were to the next level, whether it was the next level of universal design or whether it was to being on our district wide learning management system. So that's our journey, we're on the far side of that bridge right now, but there's a lot more to go before we get to the destination.
- [Alise] Great, thank you so much, I just wanted to check, I see there's been a very active dialog here in the chat. To see whether anyone had any specific questions for Mike although we'll stop again momentarily for more questions and towards the end. Okay. So a lot of what I'm gonna say next in these next steps really just gets back to both what Holly articulated and Mike articulated, some of the things that they did that allowed them to be successful in their districts in these various journeys of trying to use technology to be more accessible and use technology to meet the needs of a range of diverse learners, whether through universal design or personalized instruction and I wanted to pull out some of the commonalities here. Let's see, okay, there we go.
My computer froze for a second there. One of the first things and this sort of gets back to Mike's talking, you know, and both of them really talking about sort of starting small, but planting the seed, you know, a lot of us are becoming familiar with the need for accessibility and the importance of digital accessibility, particularly as we see news stories of districts, schools with Office of Civil Rights complaints or finding out that the things that they thought might have been accessible were not accessible so it's becoming a more common issue that more of us are becoming aware of, but there's still many teachers or many schools that may not have this on their radar yet. So starting small with do we have an accessibility policy on our website, how are people with disabilities using our content, how are parents and families and caregivers and community stakeholders with disabilities using our content and how are our students with disabilities using and accessing our content.
What types of assistive technologies are they using? And is what we're doing currently sufficient to meet those various needs? Thinking about the training that your staff needs and how you can get them comfortable with making content more accessible or how you can get them comfortable with exploring technology resources and understanding what accessibility features look like and how they can find them and access them and what your district or school's primary needs and concerns around accessibility are. Starting there and starting to think about those questions can help you then in the planning process to really start thinking about how you're going to better use technology and use accessibility features in a way that is meeting the diverse needs of all your students.
We wanted to include a few action steps, being sure to build understanding, make sure that everybody on your team understands the accessibility legislation at both the state and the federal level. Get familiar with some of the checklists and guides that are available that help you perform accessibility audits on your website or on instructional materials and content and review existing accessibility policies, whether your state has something available that you could model or whether you're in a school and your district has started to develop language, review those policies and see where there might be gaps or holes. And ensure that when you are purchasing technology, that it does meet accessibility guidelines and that technology vendors have accessibility templates available for you or information on how they meet accessibility guidelines and you know, be like Mike and say, you know, there are certain things that we're not going to do or potentially tools that we're going to explore or partnerships that we'll explore because they're not meeting our commitments and our priorities for things to be universally designed and accessible.
And then develop and communicate institution wide visions of accessibility for all your students and a commitment to, whether you call it universal design or whether, you know, like Pelham you refer to it more often as personalized learning, but make sure that this is a school and district wide commitment and something that's communicated to all and that becomes part of the culture and DNA of your institution, you know, similarly to Mike talking about that they've been doing UDL now for such a long time that it has shifted from being an initiative to being now the lens through which all their decisions about instruction and technology are made. It's really become a critical core component of what they do in the district. And then, you know, keep going.
This is, you know, it's a long process and addressing accessibility or implementing these sorts of changes as Pelham has done or as Bartholomew have done in their districts do not happen overnight. You know, clearly both districts had benchmarks and goals and timelines for success and they continue to check in and they continue to refine and enhance their programs and carry out regular audits, you know, on their content or their technology tools and make sure that things are accessible and useful for students and they solicit feedback from the people using them. So. I want to leave it off with plenty of time for any additional questions, although yes this is a great chat and I'm glad that I see that Anamaria has said we can record the chatbox because there is so much good stuff going on in that chatbox right now. We have a bunch of resources here where we do send you to the toolkit and some of our other accessibility tools and resources. And you will also get these slides as well. Let's see. Reading through the questions to see if there are any that we should call out specifically for Mike or Holly although it looks like there's ... And yes, I see Sue has asked if we can send the links in digital format too, yes, we will. We will send out the slides and they will have all the links. So. While we're waiting, I see that lots of people typing, Mike or Holly do you have anything that you want to add or any particular ... Story of success that you want to share?
- [Holly] Well, I would just say that, you know, clearly from the chat there's a lot of concern about website accessibility and I think that's, like, the hot topic right now when you think about is my website accessible? We've been talking about in New Hampshire in our Cosin group a lot as well and we've had some recent presentations in our state from different lawyers, presenting to us and I have a huge document my superintendent just handed me this week to work through as far as what we need to do to make our website accessible. I do know we have a statement on our website indicating that we are working towards accessibility. And we are working towards accessibility. But we have a google site and it's an old Google site.
It's not the new format for Google sites so it's very hard to answer those specific questions about, you know, is it because, it's very hard to find that information online right now when you look up information about Google sites with different varying products, so what I can tell you is that from our lawyers, we have lists of very specific things that, you know, we need to have in place like alt text and various things and we have done some informal audits using a developer tool in Firefox where I've scanned our website and looked for those types of things. And we have a committee that's working on our website and working on whether, you know, we do need to move to a different platform or is our current platform okay to be in, so it is a big conversation. I'll say the majority of what my students need to access in the district isn't on the website. It's interestingly, the website is more of a public tool but we need to be very concerned about those people in our community and our teachers and our parents who do have those needs, so.
- [Mike] I think I would echo that last comment that you made, Holly, in terms of the website really is a communication vehicle for the community rather than a communication or a resource for our students because they receive most of their, they do most of their access through our learning management system and the resources that are linked to it, but it is those third party resources that can often present a challenge.
- [Tracy] This is Tracy, I'd just like to call our participants' attention to the responses from the group, this is really just an exciting example of people sharing different resources and again, we'll make sure to capture this information and make it available to you.
- [Alise] Yes, these are great resources here. I'm skimming through to see if there's any questions.
- [Holly] I will say when we talk about student resources, one of the things we're starting to look at is our students access YouTube a lot. We have it open in our district because there's so many good things there and the closed captioning has come up recently, so we're going forward as we create our own videos, we're being sure to create our videos with closed captioning that our students create and that our staff creates for our students, so that's a big consideration.
- [Mike] Mmhmm.
- [Alise] Now do you your teachers do, or content creators do their own closed captioning? That question comes up a lot, whether, you know, people should do their own or whether they should hire a service to do it? What does Pelham do, or Bartholomew if you all are creating videos?
- [Mike] We've been looking at tools. We haven't settled on one yet.
- [Holly] Yeah, I'm trying to think if, we just purchased the full version of Screen Castify for a small group but I'm not positive it does the closed captioning, maybe someone else might know that. And we have a subscription to Discovery Streaming as well so you can do searches to find those specific videos that already have that built in.
- [Alise] Yes.
- [Holly] YouTube, yes.
- [Tracy] There seems to be a lot of interest from the comments about not only the closed captioning but audio description and that is certainly something that with the sophistication of the tools has become an important addition to supports for students with disabilities, so we certainly better make sure that that moves to the forefront.
- [Holly] Yes, and I want to say PBS's Teacher Resources or Student Resources, they now have the option to search by videos that are audio described. There's not a ton of them but they at least have that option now. And so it is starting to become more common but I think it is something you have to look a lot harder for.
- [Tracy] It looks like Sherry's raising a concern about digital content for students with visual impairment and how can digital content be produced in printed form. While screen readers are a nice tool for students, who require Braille, screen readers cannot be used full time I'm not sure, Sherry, what the concern is in terms of they can't be, your screen readers can't be used full time because students don't have access to them full time, is that the issue? I'm not sure. So you may just want to clarify. Also, this note that Gail is making, in a meeting with OCR last year, she was informed that audio transcribers on YouTube is not accessible. That's an interesting point. To note.
- [Mike] Mmhmm.
- [Tracy] We've clearly got a really active discussion here. I think that we've really just touched on the tip of the iceberg as they say.
- [Jillian] Hi, this is Jillian with the Center of Technology and Disability. I hate to interrupt all this great back and forth and questions and comments, this collaboration is really great to see, but I just want to quickly call your attention to the chatbox. Help ensure that we provide the kind of TA for users like you that you need and want. Hope that you could take a couple minutes to complete the survey. For our team.
- [Tracy] Thanks, Jillian.
- [Jillian] Sure, just wanted to make sure that we didn't lose track of that.
- [Alise] Yes, thank you, Jillian, I'd just gotten kicked out of the webinar, but I'm back in to paste and you had done it so yes, as Jillian mentioned, as a federally funded project, we collect survey data at the end of every activity that we do and it really helps us know, you know, how useful this information has been for the field and also lets us decide what types of events and information we provide in the future. And as Tracy said, this is such a hot topic. This makes me think we should have several followup webinars on accessibility. With lots more resources.
- [Tracy] One of the issues that we've been talking about at the Center is how we ensure that teacher made resources and curriculum and content is made accessible and also how we make sure that teachers are aware of the kinds of issues that they need to think about as they develop more and more materials. And I know that we're not gonna have time to really get to that level of specificity in this webinar, but that's certainly something that we'd like to get your feedback from the field on what you're seeing and what schools are doing to address this issue. Of teacher made materials, teacher made curriculum. And I see people typing away here, which is just great.
- [Alise] I do also want to add, before we forget, that both ... Bartholomew, we had worked with Mike and his team to develop a profile on the district that went into much more detail about the work that they've been doing and that is posted on our website now. I can add the link to that and we are also in the midst of finalizing a profile on Pelham and the work that they've been doing that will again go into a lot more detail than Holly was able to today about the work they've been doing and that should be up on the website sometime next month before the end of the year. So I will keep an eye out for that, but also I will post the link now to the profile on Bartholomew in case anybody wants to dig deeper and see some of the many resources Mike and his team shared.
- [Tracy] Also, we're always looking to you out in the field to give us your recommendations for future webinars, for other resources that you feel are missing out there in the field or really questions and concerns that you're confronting in your work. We would be happy to address those questions as we can or to identify resources to support your efforts because you all are really the ones with the real problems on the ground and part of our Center's mandate is to help you as best we can address those challenges. So I see the question here from Lisa. Do you get a certificate for attendance in the webinar? We certainly would be happy to send you a certificate for attendance, so if you'll just respond to us, we'd be happy to do that, and I see that Anamaria has in fact posted that link. Thanks so much, Anamaria. That indicates where you can actually get that certificate so thank you. Any other issues or questions? Again, this has just been very exciting and clearly there's been an enormous amount of interest in this topic and ... The power of the network to really share the great resources that are out there. So Alise, I'm gonna hand it back to you. We may be coming to the end here as we get closer. To the two o'clock hour.
- [Alise] I think we are. I've also just added the links in the chat as I mentioned to the Bartholomew profile and I also included a link to the full suite of accessibility resources that we have created at CTD to go along with the toolkit. We also have some infographics and sort of one page handouts and things that are geared more directly towards teachers or things that are geared more directly towards technology coordinators to help address those specific issues. Which goes nicely with Becky's comment which I think is difficult to address in the three minutes that we have left but I think is a sobering reminder that making every lesson plan or handout fully accessible is often not feasible with the current teacher workload and she's getting a lot of pushback from teachers.
And I think that's definitely true, particularly if it's something that you're not familiar with doing or you're not sure how to make something accessible. It can feel really overwhelming and feel like just one more thing that you don't have time as a teacher to do and hopefully with training and some of these handouts that we've created for teachers, you can at least demystify the process a little bit and I'm not gonna say it's easy, but once you get used to it and you do start doing it more frequently, it becomes second nature, to me, anyway, in the same way that running a spellcheck on a document before I push it out or having somebody read something over quickly, it just becomes a part of my process when I create content. But I absolutely understand that teachers feel overwhelmed when being asked to now consider something else as they're creating content for their students.
- [Tracy] And before we go, I just want to note that if someone, Justine noted that the certificate isn't working, we just want to make sure that that is working, that the link is working. So I think ...
- [Alise] I think Anamaria just sent out a new link and it appears to be working, for me at least, when I just clicked on it.
- [Tracy] That's terrific, thanks so much. Well, we would very much like to thank you all for your participation and also to thank our friends from the two districts. Mike and Holly, you've just done a stellar job and I think that your insights from the ground really have been terrific. So I thank you, Alise, words?
- [Alise] Absolutely, thank you both and thank you to everyone for such an active and engaged chat. This was really wonderful to hear everybody's thoughts and suggestions and resources, some of which I had not seen before, so I'll be adding to my list.
- [Tracy] Great, well thanks all.
- [Alise] Thank you, Mike, thank you, Holly.