PDF Accessibility Checker Announced

Swarthmore College ITS has completed preliminary work on software to check PDF files for accessibility across many campus systems.  The software examines PDF files to look for readable text as well as title, language, and outline metadata which indicates how easy it is to access the contents of the file.  We’ve also written a Moodle plugin to provide information to faculty on the accessibility of all the PDF files in their course.   This information will be accompanied by instructions for how to get help to remediate the files. We anticipate the software will be running on our Moodle site for the Fall … Continue reading PDF Accessibility Checker Announced

What is a screen reader?

A screen reader is a piece of software which reads web pages and documents out loud. Originally developed for persons who were visually impaired, it is now often used for a multitude of other reasons. Many who may have learning challenges, concussion syndrome, or those who simply want to listen to their email or a web page while they do something else use screen readers. All Apple products have VoiceOver built in – from iPhones to Mac desktops. Some Android devices have TalkBack. Windows users often use tools like JAWS (available on our public machines), and NVDA. If you are … Continue reading What is a screen reader?

Diversity is Normal

Accessibility in electronic communication has a legal definition.  It is really long, detailed and a little tedious but is something we need to pay attention to.  For myself and many others, accessibility is mostly about the varying degrees of learning differences that exist and educating ourselves about how to support and include those differences in an educational environment.  It is about making a decision to reduce barriers, to increase user friendliness and ease of access, and how to best engage with others in a way that supports as many learning styles as we can.  It is definitely not about reducing … Continue reading Diversity is Normal

Navigation Apps for visually impaired

I struck up a conversation with a fellow conference attendee at the AHEAD 2016 conference who happened to be blind.  We had an interesting conversation about getting around when you are visually impaired and he shared three apps he uses to navigate inside and outside buildings: overTHERE which uses a infrared technology developed more than 30 years ago to help with safer street crossing and recently adapted for mapping BlindSquare which can work with beacons to provide mapping inside buildings AllAccess which can access menus, logos,  and QR codes Continue reading Navigation Apps for visually impaired