As states and districts across the nation increase their use of technology to support instruction and communication, it is critical that digital content and websites are accessible by all students, families and community members. In this webinar, staff from the Center on Technology and Disability will discuss what digital accessibility means for you as a state education leader, accessibility policies and guidelines, and how you can build a team to be proactive about addressing accessibility issues. Panelists from the Utah State Board of Education will join us to discuss how they have addressed accessibility challenges, enhanced their infrastructure, and built capacity across teams at the state and local level to ensure that digital materials are accessible to all audiences.
Powerpoint for this webinar can be found here.
- [Alise] We're going to get started with this afternoon's webinar, Call to Action: Addressing Digital Accessibility. We are joined today by Rebecca Peterson, who is an education specialist in college and career readiness for the Utah State Board of Education, who has some really great lessons learned about addressing digital accessibility that she's going to share today. I am Alise Crossland. I am a senior researcher at American Institutes for Research and work as part of the team on the Center on Technology and Disability.
I'm joined by my colleague, Kristin Ruedel, principal researcher who is also at CTD. Rebecca has put in some accessibility information for several of the slides. We will, after this webinar, send out the recording, a captioned recording of the webinar, along with the final slides and some handouts. But, she wanted to call peoples' attention to specific animations in her slides and that slide 17 contains bright yellow text that is intentionally designed to be inaccessible and difficult to read and that there is a video activity on slide 11, but there's alternate text and description of the video activity embedded in that text box. Just briefly we wanted to talk about the Center on Technology and Disability.
We are a federally-funded center, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, and our goals are to establish a user-centered learning and technical assistance center to increase capacity of families, school systems, TA providers, and state and district leaders. Specifically around helping leaders to build understanding and assess, acquire, and implement appropriate assistive and instructional technology strategies and tools. Here at AIR, we specifically focus on trying to help state and district leaders meet those goals. So you can see what we all look like, so we're not just disembodied voices on the phone.
Today, Kristin and I will really focus on setting the stage and answering some questions and leaving most of the time for Rebecca to share the process and steps that they've taken at the Utah State Board of Education to address digital accessibility issues. Very quickly, I'm going to introduce our Digital Accessibility Toolkit that we've put out at CTD in partnership with CoSN. We have a new version of the toolkit that has just come out recently with some updated information, as the laws have changed. We're going to turn it over to Rebecca to really talk about the practicalities of what they've done at the state level to address these. Then we'll leave some time at the to talk about next steps and answer any questions that you may have. Here's the cover of our latest version of the Digital Accessibility Toolkit. It covers definitions of digital accessibility, it talks about procurement of accessible technology, the benefits of digital accessibility, and specific legal requirements both at the state and federal level around digital accessibility. Before Rebecca gets started, I just want to make sure that we're all on the same page in terms of using consistent definitions.
When we're talking about accessible content, we're talking about content that people with disabilities can navigate, perceive, understand, and interact with. It's content that considers physical, visual, speech, auditory, neurological, and cognitive disabilities. This has certainly been a hot topic. We know this is why a lot of states and district leaders have been asking these questions because digital accessibility is the law. A number of states or districts have received complaints through the Office of Civil Rights, or parents who have been unable to access content on a website, so this question comes up a lot with regard to the legal responsibility to provide accessible content. Digital accessibility is also really essential, it's an essential part of our educational mission. If we're not universally designing our content, then we're not meeting our goals as educators. Whether it's in communicating and educating our students, or communicating with families, and parents, and stakeholders, and our community, if we're digitally excluding them, then we're failing to meet our mission and obligation in educating our students and helping their families and communities learn and grow. I mentioned briefly universal design when I said that we're not universally designing things. When we're talking about universal design, the classic example is always, as you can see in my image here, the curb cuts on a sidewalk. When we talk about universal design, we mean that all products and the built environment are designed to be usable by everybody, regardless of somebody's ability, age, or status. There's an understanding when you talk about universal design that making things accessible and inclusive benefits everybody, not just users with disabilities.
That's why this curb cut example is such a nice visual reminder because we all use curb cuts, whether we're riding a bike, or pushing a stroller, or wheeling a shopping cart, or our luggage, they're actually designed to be accessible to people with mobility issues and people in wheelchairs, but it's something that we all benefit from. Here are just some examples of accessibility features that I'm sure most of you use all of these, or almost all of these, everyday. We benefit from closed captioning when we're in the airport, or at a doctor's office, or somewhere where we want to be able to watch video, but can't have sound on.
We use touch screens and zooming in. We often use text to speech. I use voice recognitionconstantly on my phone. These are all benefits that have started out as accessibility features for people with disabilities, but they're things that we all use everyday and we've really benefited from and they make us more productive and they make our jobs easier, or our lives easier. As Rebecca talks about these things, keep in mind what other benefits would students, or families, or caregivers, or community members receive if all of the content and learning opportunities that they were accessing were designed in a way that were universally accessible. With that, I'm going to turn it over to Rebecca to talk about how USBE has started taking this process one step at a time, as she says.
- [Rebecca] Thank you. I'm excited to be here to talk about some of the things that we've learned and the process that we've gone through and to be able to share tools that we've developed. Our journey kind of began when our IT director realized that our website, our old website, was not compliant with section 508. Then this led to re-examining the website, led to a proposal put forward by the IT director to the superintendency that this website needed to be redesigned and at the same time there was a website for the agency side of the state board of education and a website for the actual state board, and so a proposal was made to be able to combine those and other things. As all of this discussion was happening at the same time, the state received an OCR complaint, which is a perfect tie-in to what Alise was talking about just a minute ago. Getting this spurred and moved forward a little bit more quickly. But, because we were already in the process of redesigning things, that shortened the review process and it also made the agreement process a little bit easier because we already had things in place, so this review process was simplified. From that point, we generated a plan looking at how we could redesign the website knowing what the requirements were with OCR agreement and we started to plan what all of this was going to look like, what training was going to need to be completed, and where we needed to go.
Then in June of 2017, the framework for our new website was launched, and we'll talk as we go forward about some of the things that we learned The plans for this great seamless rollout were not quite as seamless as we had hoped they would be, but we learned some really good things. With that, that's the history of how this effort came to be and what the impetus was for getting things moving forward. Alise, you want to go to the next slide? This has become kind of the theme of our efforts up here. It's: How do you eat an elephant? First thing is to educate administration and leadership. This came about when we were looking at: So why do we need to do this? Why is this important and what is this going to take? What kind of materials? What kind of resources? Because at first glance, the idea of building accessible materials and an accessible website doesn't seem like it might be that difficult to do, but the further we dove into it, the more complicated we realized it actually was and the more training, and time, and resources it was going to take and that required us to be able to educate effectively.
From there, we needed to be able to build capacity of all staff. One of the things we quickly learned is that this job was way too big for any one, two, or even 10 people, but that in building capacity of all of the staff to be able to create accessible material and to then help other people to do the same thing, that it made the job a lot easier. So, we created some plans for how to be able to do that. Then going along with that, we developed reference materials, coaching materials that could be used across all of the different departments at USBE. With the reference materials, things that people could access any time, so if somebody was working on a PowerPoint and they were kind of stuck, they weren't quite sure where to go, they at least had a place where they could go find help and they could get questions answered. That was an important part of what we did. We started out by carrying out overview training, so when we looked into it, what we realized was that the scope of all of this was quite large, how it encompassed any kind of communication that might reasonably be expected to occur from our agency to anybody else. That includes everything that we do. Trying to wrap your mind around that becomes a little bit overwhelming, so we started with overview training just to get peoples' feet wet. Then from there, we moved into more in-depth training, and we'll talk a little bit about some of the lessons that we learned going through this process as we continue. But, we wanted to be sure and give people the information that they needed so that they would be able to, again, have that capacity within their department to be able to build their materials in an accessible fashion.
From that point, the goal has been to reach out to LEAs and to other agencies and, as we make contact with them, to help them to become aware of digital accessibility and of how to be able to do, and create, and build, and I guess change the mindset of something that has traditionally been done one way. As educators, we get pretty good at doing things in ways that work for us quickly, easily because that's our habit and so helping LEAs to have a clear path for: How do we look at this idea? And how do we incorporate it? That's an ongoing effort, we're just at the beginning part of that, reaching out to LEAs, but we are making some inroads across the state, which is exciting. Within each section, or each department up here at USBE, what we've found is that one of the things people needed was somebody that they could go and get expert information from. One of the biggest challenges when we first started was that we didn't know who to ask questions to.
As a matter of fact, that's how we got connected with CTD was trying to find information on: How on earth do we do this? We didn't have the capacity originally built at the state and so we needed to create it and in order to create it, we needed to find people who could help us to learn. So, we were busy hunting for experts and once we were able to build a couple of experts within our state level, we discovered that we needed more because it doesn't work well to only have one or two people for an entire agency to ask questions to. The goal is to create a go-to team, so one person can be the go-to person within each department who is primarily responsible for answering questions and learning about digital accessibility. That really helped to ease the load and also helped to create the culture of this is how we do business. This isn't an initiative, this isn't just something that we are doing because it's nice, this is just how we do business. Having that expert there was somebody who could coach, somebody who could nurture, so people didn't feel like they were just stuck and they weren't sure what to do, they always had somebody they could go and ask. That became, and that part is still evolving, but that's becoming a very critical part of implementing this on a large scale and scaling these efforts up.
Some of the tools that we use, and these are some of the items that we're sharing with you as examples of things that have worked, we use presentations, business and team meetings. An example of that might be working in special education, or in assessment, or in whatever department, what we've found is that during those team meetings, or staff meetings, that's when you'd have a group of people together coming into a captive audience and it's a really convenient time to be able to have a small accessibility training done on a regular basis, so a little tidbit. During those team meeting trainings, you can build a scaffolded approach to learning about accessibility, learning how to actually build accessible documents, accessible media. How do you closed caption items? What are the requirements for meeting accessibility standards? All of those things within team meeting trainings have become really useful.
Small group and individual coaching, so sometimes there are groups of people who are focusing on a particular skill or a particular kind of document, for example, fillable forms. Not everyone knows how to use those fillable forms, but there's groups of people that create a lot of those particular forms and so one of the things that we've done is created groups where, "Hey, we're going to learn about fillable forms, "if you want to come on this particular day "at this particular time, "we're going to work on this." That has also kind of morphed into work groups.
What we've found is that sometimes people just want to come and work with a group that's also working on the same kind of thing, so that they can learn, and if they have questions, they can ask somebody who is right there. An example of that might be, "Hey, we're going to work "on accessible PowerPoint presentations, "if you want to bring a project that you're working on, "come join us in room 248." As you work, if you have questions, there will be people there who can help you and who can answer your question. But, I want to point out that the goal isn't to have somebody out fixing the accessibility errors, or things that might show up, that the goal to actually teach and coach up the knowledge of the staff and to build the capacity of everybody to be able to create their own accessible material and doing that by coaching, which when we think about professional development research and what works, it's coaching that in an applied situation that will make the difference in actually applying those things in practice.
That's what we found made a big difference. As far as creating awareness and starting to branch out to LEAs, we've done news articles, newsletter articles, when we do different state meetings at the LEA level, we'll have trainings starting at the overview level, just to get people to start to think about digital accessibility and then from there they can access resources and items that we have created so that they can then turn around and do their own LEA trainings or they can ask for help and we can help them to be able to build their capacity as well. Our goal is to build scaled up capacity, not to build one or two experts that everybody goes to. As far as ready resources, not everybody is going to be able to attend this group or that training, and so another thing that we've created are resources that anybody can go to at any time. If you're one of those people who may or may not be me, creating a presentation at one o'clock in the morning, and maybe I'm creating that presentation and I get stuck and I am not sure what to do and I can't call somebody at one o'clock in the morning, but I can go to the how-to videos, or tutorials, or checklists, or other items that we have on an intranet page within our agency for accessibility helps and hints and how-to's. On those items I could look up: I need to know how to embed a video that has closed captioning.
Or, I need to know how to find a video or make a video with closed captioning. So, there's resources and things available to help people be able to do those things that they can access whenever they need them. Next, actually before you go, can you go back one more? Sorry, Alise. I wanted to point out on the color contrast guide, that's one of the items that we shared and with that guide, how that came about was the question of: How do we know if this particular color combination meets color contrast requirements? The most common questions were: If we want to use something with white text or black text and we're in a Word program, or an Office program, like Word, or PowerPoint, or something that has that standard list of colors, how do we know easily if those meet color contrast requirements? That color contrast guide is the answer to that question and what I did when I created that guide is I went through all of the standard colors that are in the little color selection bar in Word documents and I looked to say, "Okay, if I was using, for example, "the standard red color, "would that meet the color contrast requirements "if I used it with black text "or if I used it with white text?" Meaning, if I used red text on a white background, or red text on a black background, either, would that meet those requirements?
Then, if it didn't meet those requirements, what color would meet the requirements? When you look at that document, the color contrast is done to a AAA requirement. The AA is kind of the standard. When it came to color contrast on items we felt like, if we're going to do it, we might as well do it all the way and so we went with the AAA. So when you look at that, if you want to know quickly, if I want to use a red with black, you'll notice that there's a box and it's kind of a pinkish color, it's not the red that you might expect, but that's the red that will meet the color contrast requirements to use with black text or a black background. That's what the color contrast guide is and that's been something that we circulated throughout the agency and actually with anybody else outside of our agency that has had questions about color contrast. Then it also has links to WebAIM's Color Contrast Checker as well. Other things that we've done are send out weekly tidbits, so just a little email punch, just to keep it foremost in peoples' minds of just handy hints for this week, so maybe this week we're focusing on meaningful link text, here are five steps you can do and this is how you do it, this is when you would use it and this is why it matters. Just sending those out has been a good way to keep accessibility in peoples' minds on a regular basis. Okay, next slide. Some examples.
One of the questions that came up when we first started doing this was: Why do we have to do this? Why does this matter? Why, why, why, why, why, why? To help people get beyond this idea of: this is the thing I'm going to check off because it's a requirement, we found that it was really important to help people understand this from a make it real point of view. We used the information from the Accessibility is More Than a Checklist, which is the information that was commuted by CTD, but one of the things that I share is I really want people to personalize this to themselves so that they can understand that accessibility really applies to everybody.
This can go back to some of the examples that Alise shared earlier, but I also share a story about a time when I was in a wheelchair for a couple of months and I was going to a restaurant with my husband and this particular restaurant had a wheelchair ramp to be able to get in the door, so you go up the wheelchair ramp and try to open the door. The problem was that the door swung toward the sidewalk, toward where you went to get up onto the sidewalk, so you couldn't get in the door without going past the door, turning around and then coming back, or going off the curb which was like a foot tall, which wouldn't have worked very well. It's a good example of you can meet the requirement of the law, so the requirement was put in a wheelchair ramp, but it wasn't functional because of it didn't allow me to actually go up and open the door.
Another example of that was in actually another restaurant where I had gone in to use the restroom and I tried to leave the restroom and I couldn't get out because of the way they had placed the garbage cans, which didn't allow me to be able to reach the door to be able to get out, soI was stuck sitting in the bathroom until my husband eventually figured out that I wasn't coming out, so he might want to check on me, so he did and I was able to eventually leave the bathroom, which was nice. Those are examples of yeah, that letter of the law was met, but the actual functionality really wasn't there, so trying to get people to go through and really think about as they're doing the items to make their documents accessible, are the things that they're doing really functional? Are they actually going to work? As we go through this, some of the things that I do are I use yellow text, I use difficult fonts. If you think about, if you know any elementary teachers, not to pick on just elementary teachers, but elementary teachers for some reason tend to like really cute fonts As a former biology teacher, I have to admit I had a font that had little like looked liked cells kind of that attached to the letters, I loved it, totally inaccessible.
Showing these are things that as teachers we like to do these things, but getting people to think about this a little bit differently. You can go ahead and go to the next item. If you look at this next item, once I put this up on a screen, and if you're sitting five feet back, or 10 feet back, or 20 feet back, chances are it's going to be really difficult to read and even looking at it on this screen it's hard to read. As a matter of fact it says: If this sentence that is written in bright yellow contained really important information, I would be in trouble. Just pointing that out, think about what does this kind of thing, what does this do for accessibility?
This next item is a link to a PBS website and on PBS there are a bunch of exercises or demonstrations of things to really help people look at what might it be like to be somebody that is learning or accessing information differently than how you're used to accessing it. As we're looking at what does this feel like, one of the things I like to point out to people when they realize that the task goes along with a particular reading distraction activity, they go through it and they realize, "Gosh, that was really hard." It's also to point out: Wait a minute, but think about how you perceive, as a teacher, do you think about, did that change your intelligence level? No.
Did that change anything about your character because you had difficulty reading that? And the answer is no. Really trying to help people understand that disability does not equate to things that are commonly put out there in maybe media or the myths that go around about what it actually means to have a disability. These personalized experiences become really important. Alise, I don't know, can we click on that? Will it work from this particular...?
- [Alise] It should, let's give it a try
- [Rebecca] Okay.
- [Alise] Let me try again. It might not if I don't have the Flash Plugin here, but let me give it a try.
- [Rebecca] Okay. As Alise works on that, if this particular, okay--
- [Alise] There we go.
- [Rebecca] It's working. Your goal is to read this passage and to answer the questions and it's timed, so you've got to hurry and get that passage read. Okay, it's time to answer the questions. The questions are: What was Tom trying but failing to fasten? How many students were in Tom's class? What objects described in the passage have soft sides? And then as they go through this particular exercise, they click on their answers, most of the time you'll get people saying, "I can't do that, "I didn't even get the chance to read that." But, the whole point of this activity is to give people a little bit of a paradigm shift on what it might be like if you were a student who had ADHD, or if there were some other challenges that you had that maybe you're not used to thinking about. It broadens peoples' perspectives a little bit. There's a bunch of other ones on the PBS site that you can access as well that are really interesting and are good for people to think about and also to just question their assumptions. Okay, can we go to the next slide?
This one, again, goes just to the idea of how people personalize it. Once we're doing these trainings, one of the things that we noticed when we started them is we started out and we started with the big chunks, we said we're going to do accessibility training and come learn everything you need to learn and we're going to do it. Do it all.
We realized very quickly that, that doesn't work very well. What we started to do instead was look at how are we going to know where people are starting, where they're ending, and what's working, what people need the most help with, and so we started of course to do some measurements. One of the things that has worked the best has just been to do some pre/post measurements and surveys from the feedback on trainings. How did people feel when we started? What questions do you have? In what areas do you feel like you need more help?
The end ultimately is the feedback is looking at what products are being created and are those products meeting the requirements? If people are creating PowerPoints, are those PowerPoints accessible? If people are creating Word documents, are those Word documents accessible? If they're creating PDFs, are those PDFs accessible?
The PDFs have been a big deal for us because in order to post things on our website they need to be posted in PDF form and anybody who has played with PDF and accessibility has met our friend the tagging tree, and teaching people about the tagging tree has been one of the more difficult things that we've worked on. But as we've started, we've kind of picked out some key questions and this is an example from a department team at the beginning of a training, so before they start any of the different modules that we've created, they go through and complete a survey that is asking them to evaluate themselves on the different components, or the different modules, that we'll be covering.
All of those items help the person who is doing the training within the section to be able to identify: Where are areas of strength? Areas of weakness? What can I build on? What do I need to be sure and hit in a little bit more depth? And it gives us a place to be able to measure your progress over time as well. Okay, go ahead and go to the next item. Here's the biggie. These are the lessons that we have learned. These are just a few of them, we've actually learned probably way more than this list actually indicates, but probably the number one thing that we've learned is that the accessibility trainings can seem really overwhelming, especially for people who haven't thought about it much before.
The number one rule is keep it simple into bite-sized pieces. This became really apparent to me, kind of how I got into this whole realm, was because the special ed director in the department I was in asked for a volunteer for somebody to learn about digital accessibility and to learn: What do we need to do? What does it look like? In my mind I thought, "I don't know anything about that really. "How hard can it be? "I'll learn it, I need to learn it, so I'll do." Naively thinking that it wouldn't be too complex and what I learned the more I dove into it was, "WowI have a lot to learn." But, I also learned that if I can learn it, anybody can learn it. That I think has been something that, as we've gone through, I've been able to identify: People are feeling overwhelmed, this is too much information, we need to scale it back and hit these skills, these ideas, in little chunks a little bit at a time.
The next item had to do with using ongoing coaching. Kind of what we know from special developmental research, it doesn't work to do a sit and get training, people don't change their practice just from attending a training. The training can provide a good overview, it can provide some information, but really what's going to change peoples' practice is having access to coaching only to be able to coach the skills that they're learning and put them into place in the things that they're doing on a day-to-day basis. That became a really important part of what we're doing. In order to do that, we needed to build capacity within our agency. The third lesson learned was we needed to be able to locate experts outside of our agency who could answer questions and provide technical assistance while we were developing our capacity within our agency.
Looking for and identifying who are the people that we can go ask questions to. We tracked down Alise and her team. We tracked down Rob at Adobewho is, we call him the accessibility guy, in Seattle who helped us work through PDF questions. We just tried to tap people that we could ask questions and figure out answers to things that we just didn't know how to do. That was a really important thing. The other thing I've talked about is creating that public workspace. Creating collaborative teams.
This has to do with: How do we build this expertise in more than one person and how do we identify the needs across a broad area, a broad agency? Looking at: What does IT need for the website, be able to work on the website side? What do education specialists need to be able to do the work the education specialists do? What do support staff need to be able to do the communication work that they do? How do all of these people, how do we meet the needs of everybody and do it in a way that makes sense with the least amount of cost and the highest degree of effectiveness? A key to that has been frequent communication, so the weekly tidbits and just putting things out there on a regular basis makes a big difference.
The last item that I want to touch on is: We learned that if we wait for perfection, it's not going to happen. That we needed to just dive in and learn lessons as we went. There's I think something to be said for another lesson that we learned, which had to do with looking at our capacity a little bit more closely. But, the flip side of that was we didn't know what we didn't know and we didn't have anybody to help us to know what we didn't know, so we just dove in and learned as we went. That wasn't really the most effective way and I'll talk about what we would do instead, having gone through it this way, but it was good that we didn't wait for a perfect system and perfect understanding before we began. Same with on the part of our education specialists and other people as they're learning, we don't want them to become perfectly proficient before they try to create an accessible PowerPoint on their own. We want them to try it and then when they come up with questions to address those questions as we go along. So we go to the next slide.
This is the: What we would do if we were going to do it differently. This is based on implementation science and because it was my slide and I did create it, I stole a quote from my dad that always haunts me a little bit because it's so accurate. One of the things that he always told me is, "It's always less expensive to do it right the first time." Looking at this, how does it apply? There's some great work that was done, and you can find this information through the SISEP site or NIRN, and this is talking about: How do you implement things? How do you implement things effectively? What we came to see as we were looking back is that we did some of the implementation science things and other ones we didn't do very well, so we would do it differently if we were going to start out again. Go ahead and go to the next slide.
There's a tool called The Hexagon Tool that is on the NIRN website it was created by Karen Blase, Kiser, Van Dyke, the citation is down here at the bottom of the slide, but you can find it if you just search for The Hexagon Tool and NIRN. What this tool allows people to do is go through and identify how are you going to use it, but actually works in implementing innovations or new practices, how are you going plan things to be able to have the greatest likelihood of implementing something successfully? For example, looking at needs. What is our need? Our need was to become section 508 compliant, so that one was easy.
The fit, that one also was easy because we were already working on our website, we had the OCR complaint, we had things that were coming into place, so we knew that it fit well. Resources, do we have adequate resources? This one became part of our challenge because we didn't have resources. In our mind we thought we'll begin and move forward. Looking back, that was one of the areas that we would have established a little bit more clearly in defining: What resources do we need? Where can we find them? What expertise is out there? How do we access that expertise before we begin? The evidence, looking at what other states have done this. What have they done? How have they been successful? What lessons how they learned?
This sort of setting, this information, looking at that information would have been really helpful as well. Readiness. At this point when we began, we weren't quite sure what we didn't know. We thought that we were a little bit more ready than we actually were. This also came about when we actually rolled out our website. We thought that our website rollout was going to be really smooth We had planned and considered everything and what we discovered was that even though sections and departments had been doing training on creating their accessible materials to go back on the new website, when people actually realized that, that meant by last year or this past summer, a bit of panic ensued and people realized how much work that actually meant. That was a challenge that we didn't anticipate in the original pacing and timing of the project.
Looking at some of those items. Then there was some technical glitches and other things that needed to be addressed and pushed the deadlines back. Some of the resources that we had hoped to have posted, we weren't able to post, so it's still a work in progress and I imagine that it probably will be maybe perpetually. Looking at the idea of, "Yep, we'll get this done, "it will be done by this date," was a great goal to set, it just may not have been as realistic as we had thought.
One of the things we could have done to have prevented that would have been to do a little bit more progress monitoring along the way for each of the department's sub webpages and the materials that needed to on there to really say, "Hey, how are you guys doing on creating those materials?" That's something we would have changed. The last one was looking at the capacity. At the time we started we really didn't have capacity. The IT department had the most capacity, I had no capacityother than some motivation, and there were a couple other people as well who were kind of in that same situation and so we had to learn. Looking at building that capacity, do we have staff with the skills and knowledge? It would have been a little bit wiser to have built the expert capacity first in with the team of training, so you would have trainers in each department already ready to go instead of working on training them at the same time we were working on training everybody else.
Those were some of the biggest lessons that we learned, but of all of those the biggest one was take it in bite-sized chunks, so a little bit at a time. Okay, next slide. Some resources that were useful. On our intranet we have group site where we include items from federal websites, other education entities, materials created within our staff here, checklists that people have created, example documents, things like that.
Some of the things that I have shared with everybody who has joined this webinar, is an example of a how-to video that's something we have series of those, example tools that people can use, like the color contrast guide, there is also a checklist that goes through and it breaks down the major items that people need to consider in creating accessible documents. Then have some bullet point things that are just highlights, things to remember, and then a link for places within that main site where they could go and find additional information on that particular item.
For example, if somebody wanted to know about creating meaningful link text, they could go and do that by either looking at the checklist and saying, "Okay, here are the items I need to remember," but if they got through that bulleted list and then thought, "Oh, I need more information," then they could click on the hyperlink to go to WebAIM's site that talks about meaningful link text and they can find additional information there. Those are some of the things that we've created. Another item that I shared was an example of a training, one of those smaller chunk trainings, this particular one that I shared was about the basics of taking a Word document and saving it as an accessible PDF and identifying errors that you would have to fix within the first document and then how to use the Make Accessible tool within Adobe. That particular training takes about 45 minutes to an hour and it has the people who are attending that training or coaching session using the practice page that goes with that, and so they're actually working through the items at the same time on their computers.
We found that, that works the very best for getting people to get in and really dive in and use things and try things. But by having everybody working from a common practice page, everybody's working through the same questions at the same time and they can collaborate together to identify what the problems are, find the tools, and you can work through the sets at the same time.
Also included were an example of the weekly accessibility advice little tidbits that we send out and an LEA newsletter article. Any of those items, feel free to use those for your agency, and then also if you'd like other items, if you'd like any other things that I have in my collection, please feel free to email me. I'm happy to share whatever items would be useful to you. I've got a series of trainings that we've done that cover primarily PowerPoints, Word documents, PDFs, because that's what most of our education specialists use, so those are the things that we're trying to get people to think about. Then also that information can go to LEAs, so that teachers and districts and things, they can start to think about those things as well. If there are items that you would like to have access to or if you have questions, please feel free to email me and I'm happy to share whatever we've got that would be useful for you.
- [Alise] We'll send out the slides and all of Rebecca's handouts right at the conclusion of this webinar so that you'll have access to the links that Rebecca shared as well as all of the handouts that she just mentioned. If you don't have time to download them all from the webinar window, we'll be sending them out at the end of this webinar as well. It looks like there may be a question or a comment, I'm just going to switch. There is a question: Where can we find your how-to videos?
- [Rebecca] Right now they're on our intranet site, our goal is to eventually have a link on our state website for accessibility items. That was one of the things that hasn't been created yet. So, if you want to email me, then I can send you a link to an Office 360 or 365, whatever it is, where you'll be able to access those videos. We have them stored within a file on Microsoft right now that's on the intranet, but we can make it accessible to people who would like to have access to that as well. If you email me, I can provide that for you.
- [Alise] A few more questions, Rebecca. Somebody wanted to know whether all of your staff have Acrobat Pro in order to make accessible documents.
- [Rebecca] We use Adobe DC. It's important on Adobe products that you use the most current version because they are digitally updating the ability of Adobe documents to become accessible documents. Anything prior to 2010, you're going to have a lot of errors that are going to be very difficult to fix. So, keep that in mind.
- [Alise] Another question is: How many people did USBE dedicate as a core team to accessibility and approximately how much of their time was spent on this? That's a good question
- [Rebecca] It is a good question. The original team had six of us and our agency has probably 300 people maybe. Of that original team, it was primarily IT, and me, and one other education specialist who were looking at how do we build and mold this. Then from that point, now it's morphing out of IT's realm, so IT is really just focused on the website and now within each section, so the section team members that we're looking at, so about eight people, and the idea on that team, the collaborative team, moving forward from here is that, that is a meet quarterly kind of team. So that you can just coordinate: What needs to be done? What's going on? How are things going?
As far as the original startup, what kind of time did that take, on the IT side I'm not really sure, I know that the website was a very consuming project and it still is and that those two people were dedicated, one person entirely to the website and another person to help you with the accessibility on the website. As far as for my job with the training, accessibility was a part of my responsibilities, but it wasn't the main part of my responsibilities, I probably spent maybe four hours a week working on it. Now I currently spend maybe an hour a week just doing ongoing trainings and updates.
- [Alise] Great. I don't see any additional questions, but I wanted to point everybody to the link in the chat. As Rebecca pointed out, the importance of collecting of survey data, getting feedback on trainings. As a federally-funded project, we always collect survey data at the end of each webinar, so that we can know what we can improve in the future as well as additional topics that we may want to consider or delve deeper into some of these topics that Rebecca addressed today. If you could please fill out that very short survey at the link in the chat, that would be fantastic. We'll also send out the link again when we send out the slides this afternoon and all of Rebecca's handouts. Feel free to email Rebecca, as she said, or email any of us at CTD if you have additional questions. It looks like we got all the questions, I just wanted to make sure we hadn't missed any burning questions.
Since we are right at two o'clock, 2:01 now, I want to make sure we're respectful of everybody's time. Thank you all so much for joining us today and we will send out an email shortly with all of the handouts and the final slides and then you can expect a recorded and captioned version of this webinar within the next couple days. Thank you so much and thank you so much, Rebecca, for joining us today and sharing your experience in Utah.
- [Rebecca] Thanks for letting me come, I appreciate it.