ADAPALAC or Advancing Digital Accessibility Programs at Liberal Arts Colleges was hosted online by representatives from Swarthmore, Amherst, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, and Smith colleges on December 7 and 8 of 2020. It was sponsored by CLAC’s Mindshare Program.
CLAC stands for Consortium of Liberal Arts Colleges and is a professional group for IT staff at liberal arts schools. A mindshare “brings together staff from member institutions to engage in short-term collaborations to explore topics of mutual interest”. Ours focused on accessibility.
We received over 100 registrants from more than 40 schools across the country. One of the highlights of the conference was a session on “Cool New Accessibility Tools” presented by Crystal Rose Hill from Wesleyan University. Here are a few that might be of interest to our community and nearly all are free:
Speech-To-Text Programs (Dictation)
- Mac users have built-in dictation provided through the OS
- Windows users have built-in speech recognition for dictation through Windows 10.
- Google Docs has built-in “Voice Typing”, a feature for dictation that can be used when you are accessing it through the Chrome browser (free for anyone with a Google account)
Text-To-Speech Programs (Read Aloud)
- Mac users have built-in read-aloud provided through the OS
- Balabolka (a document reader that also converts to MP3) is a free program for Windows users, and also has a “portable” version that can be installed on a USB flash drive to be used on any Windows machine (great when using public/shared/borrowed computers)
- Capti Voice is a personalized reading support tool; the platform creates an “MP3” player interface with imported text documents. Free accounts are available with limited features (individual/institutional licensing available). Access provided through a browser, iOS app, or desktop program, and a browser extension is available for reading the web or easily adding articles/web pages to Capti.
- iOS and Chrome app – Speechify is awesome.
Creating Accessible content and incorporating Universal Design for Instruction (UDI)
- Microsoft Translator allows for small groups to have conversations using each individuals’ native language; it can also be used as a live captioning/translation tool with one “presenter” and up to 100 participants for up to 4 hours
- Free for anyone – does not require an account
- “Presenter” must use an app or Windows desktop program (both are free to download)
- Participants can use app or any browser on any device
- WebAIM has resource guides on creating accessible Word documents, PowerPoint slides, and PDFs
- LinkedIn Learning has several courses on creating accessible documents in Microsoft Office, PDFs in Adobe, and WordPress sites
- WordPress has a blog on Making WordPress Accessible
Resources and additional information
- Creating Accessible & Interactive Online Presentations by the Digital Library Federation
- Level Access Webinar Series with Jon Avila – Making Communications Accessible for Remote Audiences
- Apple upping their game on Accessibility features and how to videos!
- A11yCasts – Google Developers have created a series of easily digestible videos around creating accessible web content and testing web spaces with different tools.