Accessible Content for All: Building Equity & Engagement with Tech Tools

Accessible Content for All: Building Equity & Engagement with Tech Tools

Welcome and Overview of Course

Introduction

Think about the learners in your classroom; the student who is two grade levels behind in reading, students who are English language learners, students with disabilities who experience challenges with reading and writing, and students who are at grade level but struggle with focus.  We all have diverse classrooms, so how do we engage ALL learners in the curriculum content?  One way is to infuse a few tech tools into your classroom to provide students with options for accessing content. 

In the Accessible Content for All modules, you will learn about Accessible Educational Material (AEM) and tech tools that are hidden in plain sight in your schools.  You will hear teacher and student accounts of using tools like read-aloud, closed captioning, and translation to increase student engagement.  These modules are self-paced and cover ways to create accessibility within Google, Microsoft, and IOS.  Peruse the modules and explore the topics you want to learn more about.  Create your learning journey toward building accessibility, equity, and engagement in your classroom.

Learning Objectives

  1. Compare and contrast read-aloud tools and strategies for providing access to text for all students.
  2. Reflect on one way you can implement a language support tool for students with hearing loss or multi-language learners.
  3. Create a lesson with captioning to increase student engagement.
  4. Identify 2 ways to make a document accessible to students of different abilities.
  5. Name one colleague you can collaborate with to create an action plan for accessibility in your district or school.

Overview of Modules:  Accessible Content for All

Main Content Areas:

2. Intro to AEM

silouette pictures of people holding hands including person in a wheelchair

3. Built-in Accessibility Features

picture of keyboard

 

4. Read Aloud 

speaker

5. Providing Access to Digital Books

stack of books

6. Converting Print to AccessibleText 

young man listening to audiobook

7. Captioning

 

Two large capital C's

8. Translation Tools 

 

globe with word translate

9. Designing Accessible Documents

 

image of a Word document

10. Writing Tools

 

pencil

11. Digital Accessibility Requirements 

the word DIGITAL

 

12. Technology Accessibility Profile

 

Checklist

13. AEM Checklist

check mark

Module 1: Welcome and Overview of Course

Module 2: Introduction to Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) 

  • Learn about AEM and the main principles that will guide your accessibility journey.

Module 3:  Built-in Accessibility Features Across Platforms

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of built-in accessibility tools across platforms 

Module 4:  Assuring Content Can Be Read Aloud 

  • Explore and compare tools that will read digital text aloud to students

Module 5:  Providing Access to Digital Books 

  • Discover resources for accessing accessible digital book libraries and audiobooks

Module 6:  Converting Printed Text to an Accessible Digital Format

  • Review tools and techniques for converting printed text to an accessible digital format on the fly

Module 7:  Captioning to Improve Engagement and Concentration 

  • Integrate closed captioning to assure all learners can access and engage in instruction.

Module 8:  Translation Tools to Remove Language Barriers 

  • Integrate translation tools to assure understanding by students with diverse language backgrounds.

Module 9:  Designing Accessible Documents

  • Learn to create accessible documents and presentations by following general accessibility guidelines.  

Module 10:  Tools to Support Writing in Accessible Documents

  • Discover robust tech tools for writing, including brainstorming, word prediction, and dictation tools.

Module 11:  Understanding & Communicating Digital Accessibility Requirements 

  • Be Empowered to advocate for your district to comply with digital accessibility requirements.

Module 12:  Assessing Your District's Technology Accessibility Profile

  • Assess the availability of accessible technology and training on accessible tech tools within your district using the Technology Accessibility Profile.

Module 13:  Checklist for Acquiring Accessible Curriculum Content

  • Assure that ALL core and supplemental curricula meet digital accessibility requirements

Module 14:  Resources, Glossary & Research

 

 Questions?  Contact Sue Wright or Kristin Leslie.  

Introduction to Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

Do you struggle to make sure that instructional materials are accessible to all of your learners? This module is designed to increase your awareness and ability to meet the needs of diverse learners in your classroom. Learn the latest information on Accessible Educational Material (AEM) and principles that will guide your accessibility journey. Discover resources at your fingertips to better understand the accessibility needs of individuals with disabilities, as well as set the stage to dive deeper into the components of designing accessible content.

Session Objective:

  • Explain the importance of Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) to my colleagues and share resources to learn more about AEM.

What is Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)? 

Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) are print and technology-based materials usable for learning across all student ages and abilities to support teaching and learning. To provide AEM, educational content may need to be provided in a variety of formats depending on student needs,  The AEM formats include accessible digital text, audio, large print, braille, and tactile graphics.  For more information, review SETC's webpage on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM).  

CAST's National AEM Center presents an introduction to Accessible Learning Across the Lifespan. Learn more about what is accessibility.

Watch this video from National AEM Center.  
Introduction to Accessibility 

Introduction to Accessibility (10 min.)

How do I get started?

Check out  SETC's Tips to Make Curriculum Content Accessible.  In the following modules, we will dive deeper into each tip by offering examples of tech tools and ideas to help you on your AEM journey.

What will this look like in my classroom?

ALL students accessing core content with the appropriate technology tools:

Examples of AEM, formerly known as AIM (3:43 min)

Reflection

1. What's one action you can take to improve the accessibility of educational materials (AEM) in your district?

2. Reflect on the Self Assessment Rubric below as you think about applying your learning to your instructional practice. Where are you on the continuum?

OVERVIEW
level 1

EXPLORE
level 2

APPLICATION
level 3

I have a general understanding of AEM and able to discuss the guiding principles.I am now able to list two accessibility options that would be beneficial to a student in my class.I identified one accessibility tip and have a plan on how to implement it in my classroom and share with my colleagues.

Glossary:

  • AEM - Accessible Education Materials (AEM) are print and technology-based materials usable for learning across all student ages and abilities to support teaching and learning. Formerly known as Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)
  • Accessible formats - The customarily accessible formats include braille, tactile graphics, large print, audio and accessible digital text.
  • Accessible digital text - malleable and can be easily transformed in many different ways depending upon student needs and the technology being used to display the content.
  • Tactile Graphics - images, such as maps, charts, and graphs that are designed to be interpreted by touch.

 

Built-in Accessibility Features Across Platforms

Students who need accessibility tools don't need to wait for their district to complete a formal evaluation or buy expensive software.  The built-in accessibility features of Apple, Google, and Microsoft have improved significantly in recent years, making it easy for anyone to access these tools.  During this module, open your favorite platform and try out some accessibility features! 

Section Objective: 

  • Identify at least two built-in accessibility features in the computer platform you use the most.

Learn About Built-in Accessibility Features

The Center for Applied Special Technologies (CAST) has created this video to give you an overview:  Features We Can Start Using Today (9:25 min.)

Features We Can Start Using Today (9:25 min)

Learn more about Accessibility Tools Across Platforms

Try out Built-in Accessibility Features

Choose one platform that you use the most and explore the built-in accessibility tools:

Microsoft Accessibility

Google Chrome Accessibility

Apple - iOS Accessibility

Headphones with microphone

 

Read aloud speaker

Magnifying glass

 

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

You may wonder about the accessibility of your school's Learning Management System (LMS).  Often students need to navigate their district's LMS to get access to curriculum content and they may encounter barriers.  Learn more about  Accessibility of Learning Management Systems for Distance Learning

What would this look like in my classroom?

Google Classroom Accessibility Empowers Inclusive Learning (2:27 min.)

Reflection

1. What's one way you can integrate a built-in accessibility feature into a class lesson for all students to benefit?

2. Reflect on the Self Assessment Rubric below as you think about applying your learning to your instructional practice. Where are you on the continuum?

OVERVIEW
level 1

EXPLORE
level 2

APPLICATION
level 3

I have a general understanding of built-in accessibility tools in my preferred platformI watched the CAST video on "features we can start learning today" and explored the accessibility tools in my preferred platform..I planned a class lesson on one of the built-in accessibility features.

Glossary:

  • Computer Platform - A computer or hardware device and/or associated operating system, or a virtual environment, on which software can be installed or run. 
  • Learning Management System - is a software application or web-based technology that provides a framework to facilitate the learning process.

Assuring Digital Content Can Be Read Aloud

In today's classroom, every student needs to know how to use built-in technology features to meet 21st-century learning standards.  Did you know that over 50% of students who are reading below grade level can access, listen to and understand grade-level text independently with a reading accommodation, such as read aloud?  Reading accommodations may include audio books, using text readers to listen to digital text read aloud, or listening to a live person read text aloud.  Consider students in your classroom who might benefit from read-aloud options. In this section, we will learn about some read-aloud tools that will prove effective for every student in your classroom!

Section Objective:  

  • Compare and contrast read-aloud tools and strategies for providing access to digital text for all students.

Review Tip 3 in the document 8 Tips to Make Curriculum Content Accessible

Read-Aloud Tools For Digital Text

There are free read-aloud tools built-in to computer operating systems and web browsers.  You'll find that iOS, Google, and Microsoft platforms constantly change and improve their accessibility features, especially for reading accommodations.  Some students with disabilities may need more robust read-aloud tools to meet their specific needs.  Read about and watch videos highlighting the built-in read-aloud tools in iOS, Google, and Microsoft, as well as 3rd party tools that feature read-aloud, such as Snap&Read, Read&Write, and WordQ on this SETC webpage: Read Aloud Accessibility Features and Tools 

Try out Free Read Aloud Tools

Remember to always try the free read aloud tools first.  Start by choosing your preferred platform to make sure you know about the free built-in read aloud tools that are available.  If you want to expand your knowledge, continue exploring some tools for other platforms using the links below.

MicrosoftGoogle ChromeiOSAndroid

Immersive Reader

Read Aloud in Edge Browser

Chrome Buil-in Select to Speak

Chrome Extensions to Support Reading

Use Immersive Reader on Websites

iPad Tip: Speak Selection & Speak Screen (video)

Speak the Screen and selected Text

Talkback Screen Reader

Select to Speak

Free Read Aloud Tools Built into Web Browsers

SETC video:  Read Aloud in Chrome Browser

Read Aloud in Chrome Browser (3:20)

SETC Video:  Use Immersive Reader on Websites

Use Immersive Reader on Websites

 

SETC video:  Read Aloud in the Edge Browser

Read Aloud in the EDGE Web Browser (1:43 min)

Learn about More Robust Accessibility Tools for Reading

Sometimes the free built-in reading accessibility tools are not robust enough to meet the specific learning needs of students.  In this case, you may want to look at additional Assistive Tech paid tools that have more reading features and supports. Get an overview of these 3rd party tools by reviewing the SETC webpage on Read Aloud Tools.  Note that some of these tools are able to convert inaccessible images of text into readable text using optical character recognition (OCR) technology.  Let's look at a few tools in more detail.

Snap&Read Google extension has the ability to read any digital text aloud as well as dynamic text leveling, PDF annotation, translation, color masking, and readability analyzer.. Watch this video:  Snap&Read Universal Quick Overview 

Read&Write Google extension is a literacy support tool that includes reading text out loud with word highlighting and visual preferences.  It also has support for understanding unfamiliar words, researching assignments, and editing written work. To learn more about the read aloud feature in Read&Write, watch this video:  Read&Write for Google Chrome - Practice Reading Aloud Overview

Supporting Reading for Students with Specific Disabilities

Students with disabilities have special factors and may need assistive technology to improve access to classroom content.  Links and Resources to Support Students with Specific Disabilities may provide additional information on resources and agencies that can provide support for students with specific disabilities.

What would this look like in my classroom?

Text to Speech in the Classroom (4:16)

Lesson Tip: Teach a lesson to your whole class on how to use the built-in read-aloud features on your preferred web browser.  All students will benefit from this lesson, but some students will need this skill as an accommodation to access grade-level content.

teacher instructing classroom of students

Reflection

1. Can you think of a student who is below grade level in reading that might benefit from listening to text read aloud using some of the strategies and tools in this section?  What impact might that have on class discussions when all of your students have access to the content?

2. Reflect on the Self Assessment Rubric below as you think about applying your learning to your instructional practice. Where are you on the continuum?

OVERVIEW
level 1

EXPLORE
level 2

APPLICATION
level 3

I have a general understanding of read-aloud technology tools.I watched the video on read-aloud tools available for my favorite browser and practiced using the tool.I set up and utilized a read-aloud tool with one of my students.

Glossary:  

  • Accessibility - The practice of making information, activities, and/or environments sensible, meaningful, and usable for as many people as possible.
  • Accommodation - An alteration of the environment, curriculum format, or equipment that allows an individual with a disability to gain access to content and/or complete assigned tasks.
  • OCR: Optical Character Recognition is a method for scanning text and using text recognition to convert a picture of that text into a format that can be read aloud and edited.
  • Select to Speak or Speak Selection - is a feature that reads text on a screen after it has been selected with mouse cursor of touch access method.
  • TTS - Text to Speech is the conversion of printed or digital text to audio.
  • Web Browser - is a type of software that allows users to find and view websites on the internet.

Providing Access to Digital Books

Providing accessible reading options, such as eBooks and audiobooks in addition to printed books can increase student engagement.  Some students may prefer an illustrated graphic novel, while students who speak multiple languages may want a book in their preferred language. In this module, we will cover practical ways that educators can provide digital books for their students.

Section Objective:

  • Discuss options for free online digital books for students who prefer or require this accommodation to access curriculum content.

Review Tip 4 in the document 8 Tips to Make Curriculum Content Accessible

Free Digital Books

Many websites and resources provide free digital books to all students at a variety of reading levels and formats including picture books and human-narrated books. To see these resources,  Explore SETC’s webpage: Access to Storybooks.  Note that the Libby App is a public library source available to everyone.  Storyline Online features celebrity voices narrating books and Tar Heel Reader is a great customizable source for early readers and includes options for alternative access.  

Explore SETC’s webpage:  Access to Chapter Books, Text Books, and More  Note that EPIC! is free for educators and has great elementary-level books and the ability to customize student profiles by preferred genre and reading level.  Newsela provides a robust reading tool for older students that include real-world texts, diverse perspectives, and 5 reading levels.  

Libby App

Many school districts are recognizing the value of every student having universal access to the public library for books and audiobooks! Libby is a free app where you can borrow ebooks, digital audiobooks, and magazines from your public library. You can stream titles with Wi-Fi or mobile data, or download them for offline use and read them anytime, anywhere.  This public library access provides limitless opportunities for offering UDL instructional choices in your classroom.

How to use the Libby App

How to set up and use the Libby App (3:24 min.)

Bookshare

What do you do when your textbook or class novel is not available in an accessible digital format through the vendor or library?  Most school textbooks and novels can be accessed in an accessible format through Bookshare.  Bookshare is a free online digital library for individuals who have a qualifying reading or perceptual disability, a visual impairment, or a physical disability that affects their ability to read printed works.  Bookshare makes reading easier by customizing the reading experience to meet the preferred learning style of each student. Learn more about Bookshare

Use Bookshare Reader across devices for easy access to reading for your students.  Watch this 1 min video for a quick overview:

Bookshare Reader: Read What You Want, Where you Want (1:07 min.)

Supporting Reading for Students with Specific Disabilities

Students with specific disabilities have special factors and may need assistive technology to improve access to digital books.  Links and Resources to Support Students with Specific Disabilities may provide additional information on resources and agencies that can provide support for students with specific disabilities.

What would this look like in my classroom?

Bookshare Helps Student Become Lifelong Learner (2:47 min.)

Lesson Tip: Collaborate with school librarians/media specialists to make sure all students have a library account through the Libby App as part of their everyday classroom routine. AT Specialists and Special Ed teachers can also collaborate with school librarians to help enroll eligible students for Bookshare.

Reflection

1. How can providing an option for listening to digital books support diverse learners in your classroom? 

2. Reflect on the Self Assessment Rubric below as you think about applying your learning to your instructional practice. Where are you on the continuum?

OVERVIEW
level 1

EXPLORE
level 2

APPLICATION
level 3

I have a general understanding of accessible digital book resources.I watched the video on the Libby App and practiced using it for myself.I have identified at least one student on my caseload who would qualify for Bookshare and collaborated with my school team to set up a Bookshare account for that student, set up the Libby app for them to use, or are using one of the links to online books with my students.

Glossary:

  • Accessible Reading Format - customized format for specific needs such as audiobooks, braille, large print, following with highlighted text.color backgrounds and text style.
  • Human narrated books - read by a human person and recorded as an audio file
  • Digital Screen Reader - software program that allow users with visual or learning difficulties to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer or braille display.
  • Accommodation - is an alteration of environment, curriculum format, or equipment that allows an individual with a disability to gain access to content and/or complete assigned tasks.

Converting Printed Text to an Accessible Digital Format

Have you ever struggled with finding time or effective tools to convert paper worksheets and printed textbook pages to an accessible format?  This can be a barrier for students who need accessible digital formats because they have difficulty reading or writing in the traditional formats.  This module will review tools to help make that process easier for you and your students!

Section Objective:

  • Compare and contrast tech tools for converting printed text to accessible digital format on the fly.

Review Tip 5 in the document 8 Tips to Make Curriculum Content Accessible

3 Tech Tools to Convert Printed Text into Accessible Digital Format on the Fly:

Microsoft Lens

Microsoft Lens (1:58 min.)

 

Claro Pdf Pro

How to Use Claro PDF (11:09 min.)

 

SnapType Pro App

  • SnapType Pro (4:19 min.)

Review these SETC resource web pages for more information on:

Making Worksheets Accessible - this webpage highlights how to convert printed worksheets in reading, writing and math into accessible documents that be edited to complete the work digitally. This is essential for students who struggle to use paper and pencil. Tech tools are reviewed to convert documents using Microsoft, Google and iOS platforms.  A powerful free Google extension to complete worksheets digitally is Kami. Kami provides accessible annotation tools to digitally complete worksheets.

Converting Worksheets with iPad - an iPad provides an easy and quick method for taking pictures of worksheets or textbook pages and converting them to accessible digital format using optical character recognition (OCR).  The 3 best apps are highlighted with the videos above:  Microsoft Lens, Claro PDF Pro and SnapType Pro.

Reflection

1. What's one strategy you can use to support students who can't access print materials? 

2. Reflect on the Self Assessment Rubric below as you think about applying your learning to your instructional practice. Where are you on the continuum?

OVERVIEW
level 1

EXPLORE
level 2

APPLICATION
level 3

I have a general understanding of tech tools for converting printed text to accessible digital formatI watched the videos and explored at least one app for converting printed text to accessible digital format.I successfully converted printed text to accessible digital format with one app and plan to implement this app in my classroom and share with my colleagues.

Glossary:

  • OCR - Optical Character Recognition is a method for scanning text and using text recognition to convert a picture of that text into a format that can be read aloud and edited.
  • Annotation - a note or drawing added to an image, diagram, or document.

 

Captioning to Improve Engagement

Are your multi-lingual and hearing-impaired learners missing parts of instruction? What about students who struggle with auditory processing, are they missing out on spoken instruction?  There are some easy free tools to make captioning part of your everyday practice so that all learners can engage and benefit from instruction.  When you present content using PowerPoint or Google Slides, you can use live captioning.  When you show a video, you can turn on CC to make sure everyone has an inclusive experience.  If you are wondering how research supports using captioning with all students, check out this video. Teaching with Closed Captioning.

Section Objective:

  • Analyze captioning tool options on various platforms and choose the best option to fit your practice.
  • Reflect on the difference between live captioning, open captioning, closed captioning, and described and captioned media.  

Review Tip 6 in the document 8 Tips to Make Curriculum Content Accessible. Turning on closed captions (CC) is essential for those who are deaf and helpful for English Language Learners, visual learners, and many more. 

Closed Captions display audio as text on a screen for a pre-recorded event/video.  With closed captioning the user has the ability to turn the captioning on or off.  

Live Captions or subtitles are when text is displayed on the screen in real time as a person is speaking. 

 

Closed Captioning within YouTube

How to Turn on Captions in YouTube (0:56 min.)

This article on How (and Why) to Caption YouTube Videos You Don't Own, gives insight into the importance of using captions on educational content to improve accessibility to diverse students in different environments.  CC can help students improve engagement, focus on video content, comprehension, and spelling. CC also provides flexibility to watch videos with background noise.  CC also may be legally required to meet the accessibility needs of students who qualify for 504 or IEP plans. 

Described Caption Media

Described and Captioned Media provides captions as well as text description of other sound elements in a video.  You can find a resource bank of videos with this type of support on the website of the Described and Captioned Media Program.

Live Captioning with Google Slides

See the short how-to video below on using live captions in Google Slides.  You can use Google Slide captioning in the background and show other screens by using Alt-Tab to toggle to other screens you have open. 

Live Captioning in Google Slides

 

Live Captioning with Microsoft

PowerPoint in Office 365 has live captioning, otherwise known as subtitles.  You can have the subtitles appear in English or in a langauge of your choosing.  There is also the option to choose a spoken language and a different language for the subtitles.  

Live Captioning/Subtitles with PowerPoint in Office 365

Live Captioning in Microsoft Teams

If you are using Microsoft Teams for meetings or presentations, there are live translated captions available within Microsoft Teams.  Watch this video to find out more:

Live Translated Captions for Microsoft Teams (1:15 min.)

In addition, you can change the closed caption settings on a Windows 10 computer to get a more customized look to your closed captioning bar. Check out this video on How to Change Closed Caption Settings in Windows 10.

Finally, SETC has created this webpage for you to Learn more about captioning and translation toolsYou can bookmark this page for future reference to refresh your memory on what is available for CC.

 

What does this look like in the classroom?

Using Google Slides Live-Closed Captioning in the Classroom (5:57 min.)

Lesson Tip: 

Use a high-quality wireless microphone when you are teaching a lesson using closed captioning.  This will improve the accuracy of the live transcription of your voice. Here is an example of a wireless headset with a microphone with AI noise canceling that can be connected to your computer and set up to support closed captioning in the classroom 

Blue person wearing headset with microphone

Reflection

1. What's one way you can add closed captioning to your everyday practice when designing content? 

2. Reflect on the Self Assessment Rubric below as you think about applying your learning to your instructional practice. Where are you on the continuum?

OVERVIEW
level 1

EXPLORE
level 2

APPLICATION
level 3

I have a general understanding of captioning tools available to support my students.I watched the video and explored using a captioning tool in my preferred platform.I implemented captioning for at least one lesson I presented in my classroom, and shared this resource with my colleagues.

Glossary

  • CC - Closed Captions or subtitles are both processes of displaying text on the screen of a computer or television for people who cannot hear the audio or need both audio and visual to make a video fully accessible.  Closed captioning is when individuals have a choice to turn captioning on or off. 
  • Live translated Captions - is the process of taking audio and simultaneously converting it into text in real-time.
  • Open Captioning:  This kind of captioning is burned into the video and displays on the screen all the time.  The user cannot choose to turn it off. 
  • Described and Captioned Media:  Described and Captioned Media provides captions as well as text description of other sound elements in a video. 

Translation Tools to Remove Language Barriers

Do you wish there was an easy way to communicate with your students and parents directly in their native language? Translation technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are improving everyday and now you can easily translate live conversations, save transcripts as well as translate text in documents and slides.  When you implement the use of these amazing tools, you are helping all learners access and engage in educational activities. 

Section Objective: 

  • Explore and choose the appropriate translation tool for your students to increase their access to educational content.

Review Tip 7 in the document 8 Tips to Make Curriculum Content Accessible.

Translation Tools

Microsoft Translator

MIcrosoft Translator for Education can be used to help teachers better communicate with students who are learning English, are deaf or hard of hearing, have learning differences or have trouble taking notes.   Watch this video to see how Translator can be used in the classroom.

Microsoft Translator for Education: Communicate with Students (2:53 min..)

Try out Microsoft Translator online and start a conversation now.

Google Translate

If you are in a school district where Google Classroom and Chromebooks are the standard tools, there are tools for you to reach all of your diverse students too! There is an easy way to translate conversations directly using Google Translate online or using the Google Translate app on a phone or tablet.  Try it out!

Do you want to see Google Translate in action in the classroom?  Check out this video!

Using Google Translate in Language Teaching and Learning (11:05 min.)

If you want to explore setting up Google Translate in Google Slides for your next Slideshow,  you can either:

1. Read about it: How to Translate in Google Slides

2. Watch this video: Translate in Google Slides (2:48 min.)

3. Watch this video Must-Have Google Resources for Supporting EL Students (4 min video)

Take the time to try out these translator tools with a colleague or student on both Microsoft and Google platforms to see which one you like best. It takes practice to get more proficient.  Your next step is to take these translator tools to the classroom! 

For more info, explore our SETC webpage: Learn more about captioning and translation tools

What does this look like in the classroom?

To see an example of how to use Microsoft Translator to communicate with a deaf and hard-of-hearing person, watch this video:

Teacher at Rochester Institute of Technology uses Translator to Break Communication Barriers with a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Student on Campus (2:00 min.)

 

Reflection

1. How could using translation tools with students and parents change the level of engagement in your classroom? 

2. Reflect on the Self Assessment Rubric below as you think about applying your learning to your instructional practice. Where are you on the continuum?

OVERVIEW
level 1

EXPLORE
level 2

APPLICATION
level 3

I have a general understanding of translation tools available to support my students in the classroom.I watched a video and explored a translation tool in my preferred platform.I implemented use of a translation tool for at least one lesson I presented in my classroom, and shared this resource with my colleagues.

Glossary:

  • Translation - The process of reworking text from one language into another to maintain the original message and communication. 
  • AI - Artificial Intelligence simulates human intelligence through the programming of a computer or machine to perform complex tasks. 

Designing Accessible Documents

When educators design content for students, there are important tips and tricks for making sure all students can access, read and respond to the content. Many students may choose to have text read aloud as their preferred learning style, while other students may require use of a screen reader as an accommodation to listen to documents read aloud. Some students who are blind may also need to hear explicit descriptions of pictures and hyperlinks read aloud throughout content.  Which of your students can you see benefiting from having content read aloud?

Section Objective:  

  • Identify 2 ways to make a document accessible to people of different abilities

Review Tip 1 in SETC's document 8 Tips to Make Curriculum Content Accessible

Accessible Documents

The Center for Applied Special Technologies (CAST) offers the acronym POUR to guide us through tips to create accessible documents.  View this video to learn more about POUR(Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust):

Designing for Accessibility with POUR (3:05 min.)

 

The National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) outlines some clear guidelines for creating accessible documents and presentations.  One of the tricks for remembering these practices is the mnemonic SLIDE, which stands for styles, links, images, design, and evaluation.  Read more in this article about how to create and evaluate your documents for accessibility:  Creating Accessible Documents  

Note:  You can use the practice documents at the above link to apply the techniques learned and then check your accessibility before and after your learning.

CAST released a new tipsheet in 2023: Tips for Accessible Education Materials  This concise resource may be useful to print out, distribute at meetings and have handy by your computer when creating new content.

Microsoft Accessibility Checker

One of the best ways to check the accessibililty of documents and presentations is to use the Microsoft Accessibility Checker.  Check out this video to see how it works:
 

Making Documents Accessible - Microsoft 365 (3:42 min.)

 

What would this look like in my classroom?

Lesson Tip:  Run all your Microsoft PowerPoint and Word instructional documents through the Microssoft Accessibility checker.  Now, ALL of your students will be able to access your content with read aloud tools!

Microsoft Word Document BEFORE Accessibility Check
Microsoft Word Document AFTER Accessibility Check

check mark

Reflection

1. From what you have learned, can you identify 1 change you will make when creating classroom materials?

2. Reflect on the Self Assessment Rubric below as you think about applying your learning to your instructional practice. Where are you on the continuum?

OVERVIEW
level 1

EXPLORE
level 2

APPLICATION
level 3

I have a general understanding on different ways to make documents accessible.I watched the video on Designing for Accessbility with POUR, studied the CAST website links on this topic, and am able to Identify 2 ways to make a document accessible.I chose a specific instructional document I use, practiced running the accessibility checker on that document and made the suggested changes.

Glossary:

  • POUR - The acronym POUR stands for Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust.  These 4 qualities define an accessible user experience.
  • AEM - Accessible Education Materials (AEM) are print and technology-based materials usable for learning across all student ages and abilities to support teaching and learning
  • Accessibility - The practice of making information, activities, and/or environments sensible, meaningful, and usable for as many people as possible.
  • SLIDE - A mnemonic that stands for styles, links, images, design and evaluation which represent the guidelines for creating accessible documents and presentations.

Tools to Support Writing in Accessible Documents

Do you have students who struggle with writing and spelling but have good verbal skills?  How about those who experience writer's block because of difficulty getting started with articulating their ideas and organizing their writing?  There are some great writing support tools available to build on your students' strengths and bring the joy back to writing again!  

Section Objective

  • Compare and contrast the features of writing support tools across platforms.

Student Highlight:  Meet Alex

Meet Alex (2:38)

Learn About & Try out Free Writing Support Tools

Remember to always try the free writing support tools first. Start by choosing your preferred platform to make sure you know about the free built-in writing tools that are available.  If you want to expand your knowledge, continue exploring some tools for other platforms using the links below.

Microsoft

Google

iOS

Word PredictionGoogle Smart Reply SuggestionsiOS Predictive Text
DictateVoice TypingiOS Dictate
Audio Note Voice Memos App

Exploring Speech to Text Tools:

Using Speech-to -ext Assistive Technologies to Support Students (3:47 min.)

Supporting Writing by Providing Multiple Options for Expression

Sometimes the free built-in writing accessibility tools are not robust enough to meet the specific learning needs of students with disabilities.  In this case, you may want to look at additional Assistive Tech tools that have more writing features and supports. For emerging writers, check out the resources for  Expression Ideas with Multimedia Support

Choose one tool to explore and learn more about in each of these categories:

Graphic OrganizersAudio Notes & Voice NotesWord PredictionSpeech to Text

Graphic Organizers

 

Speaker amplifier

 

Choose your words scrabble tiles

 

headsets with microphone

 

Make a MovieMake a BookSentence BuildingAlternative Pencil

movie camera and flim

stack of books

scrabble cube words

pencil

What does this look like in the Classroom?

Speech to Text

Speech Recognition in the Classroom (4:50)

Teaching Students to Use the Tools: Voice Typing in Google or Dictation in Word

Voice Typing in Google Docs & Dictate in Word (1:28)

Teaching & Modeling the Process of Using Speech to Text

Don't forget to teach students to use the technology.

Technology tools such as speech-to-text need to be taught.  Teachers can model the use of the tools and be explicit in instruction on how to use tech tools for writing.  In the video below, Sharon Redmon, a long-time special education teacher talks to us about how she teaches speech-to-text. 

Teaching Students to Use Speech to Text (9:38)

Technology Tools for Younger Learners

Students could use the SnapType Pro App for IOS to write on a worksheet or they could use tools like Clicker Writer or Book Creator to express learning across all platforms.  As early as 3rd grade, they could begin to use the built-in speech-to-text tools in Google (Voice Typing) and Word (Dictate).  The videos below show some of these tools. 

Snap Type Pro - $49.99

  • SnapType Pro (4:19 min.)

Cicker Writer - Request a Quote

Clicker Writer Intro (3:51)

Book Creator (&6.50/month)

Book Creator: Writing Support for All Students (2:43)

Voice Typing in Google Docs & Dictate in Word

Reflection

1. What options do you provide for your students to express their thoughts?  Could you teach one new tech tool for expression to your whole class?

OVERVIEW
level 1

EXPLORE
level 2

APPLICATION
level 3

I have a general understanding of writing support tech tools that are available.I explored and trialed at least one writing support tool that would benefit my students.I selected a specific assignment for my students and set up 3 options for expression using the tools I learned about in this section.

Glossary:

  • Graphic Organizer -  A powerful organization tool to support writing that uses visual design templates to demonstrate relationships between facts, concepts or ideas.
  • Word Prediction - A digital tool that support spelling by predicting words as the user types letters based on spelling, syntax, and frequency of word use.
  • Audio or Voice Note - An audio file that is created by speaking into an electronic device which can be saved and accessed later as a reminder or to support the brainstorming process in writing.
  • STT - Speech to Text (AKA speech recognition or dictation) is technology that enables human speech to be converted automatically into text. 
  • Alternative Pencil - Anything that provides a student with access to all 26 letters of the alphabet for use in writing.  Access for students with significant disabilities often involves partner assisted scanning.

Understanding & Communicating Digital Accessibility Requirements

Did you know that under federal law education agencies and institutions are obligated to ensure that learners with disabilities can access the materials and technologies chosen for a curriculum?

Section Objective:

  • Explain to your colleagues the importance of digital accessibility requirements and share ADA videos for them to pursue further training.

Review Tip 2 in the document 8 Tips to Make Curriculum Content Accessible

Communicating Digital Accessibility Requirements 

How can you be an advocate for digital accessibility in your district or school? Think of one person you can talk to in your Information Technology or Teaching & Learning departments to educate them about accessibility.  Share this CAST website link with them and the videos below:

In these videos by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) National Network, you will learn more about:

  • Digital accessibility for people with disabilities
  • Partnering with vendors to improve the accessibility of digital products
  • Collaborating with leaders in your workplace to embrace accessibility as a daily practice. 
An Introduction to Digital Accessibility from the ADA National Network (3:26 min.)
Vendors and Partnerships (3:56 min.)
Creating an Organizational Culture that Embraces Accessibility (3:17 min.)

To access the full video series on digital access in education by the ADA network and Office of Civil Rights (OCR), go to the OCR Video Series

Reflection Question: 

1. What's one way you can communicate digital accessibiity requirements to key leaders in your organization?

2. Reflect on the Self Assessment Rubric below as you think about applying your learning to your instructional practice. Where are you on the continuum?

OVERVIEW
level 1

EXPLORE
level 2

APPLICATION
level 3

I have a general understanding of digital accessibility requirements.I watched the ADA videos and reflected on how this may apply to my students.I identified and set up a meeting with one administrator to share this information about digital accessibility requirements. 

Glossary:

  • Digital Accessibility -  is the design of technology content, products and environments using assistive technology to help people with various disabilities have full access to that content or service.
  • ADA - Americans with Disability Act is a law which mandates that public and private spaces must be made accessible to individuals with sensory, cognitive and physical impairments or limitations.  .
  • OCR - Office of Civil Rights
  • WCAG - Web Content Accessibility Guidelines set a global standard for making web content more accessible for people with disabilities and others who need accommodations for vision and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivities, learning disabilities and cognitive limitations.
  • NIMAS - The National Instructional Materials Access Center is a conformance standard for providing accessible textbook files, related core instructional materials and digital instructional materials to students in the classroom.
  • EPUB - is an accessible ebook file format for digital books, compatible with eReaders on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  • RFP's - Request For Proposal is a document that an organization or school district creates as a proposal to a potential vendor for purchase of curriculum content or a technology tool.
  • Instructional Materials Adoption - is a process guided by state legal requirements that is used to select and approve instructional materials for students.

Assessing Your District's Technology Accessibility Profile

How do you know what technology tools are available in your district to address accessibility needs?  It's good practice to start with the accessibility features that are already embedded in digital platforms, such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple iOS.  Some districts purchase additional 3rd party curricula or software programs that have more robust features to support student learning.  Where do I start to determine my district's accessibility needs?

Session Objective:

1. Assess your school district or organization's tech accessibility profile as a starting point for goal-setting for improvement.

    The Special Education Technology Center (SETC) has created a Tech Accessibility Profile form to help you and your school team assess how your district technology supports equitable access to educational materials. This will help you to identify your current accessibility baseline and inform goal setting for the future! Take a few minutes to read through this Tech Accessibility Profile.  What team members can you gather to consider, discuss and fill out this form for your district?

    Tech Accessibility Profile Page 1

     

    Tech Accessibility Profile Page 2

    What does this look like in a school district? 

    Burlington Edison talks about how they provide tech tools to support accessibility. 

    Making Curriculum Content Accessible with Tech - Burlington Edison (2:13 min)

    Reflection Question: 

    1.  How will I present this Tech Accessibility Profile in my district/organization and how might this assist my team on our accessibility growth journey?

    2. Fill out this Self Assessment Rubric to gain more insight into your mastery of this section.

    OVERVIEW
    level 1

    EXPLORE
    level 2

    APPLICATION
    level 3

    I reviewed the Tech Accessibility Profile and understand the main ideas.I studied the Tech Accessibility Profile document and identified at least one area to focus my efforts in my school district or organization.I set up a meeting with one administrator to discuss creating a team to fill out the Tech Accessibility Profile for my district or organization.

    Glossary:

    • Digital Platform - is a structured learning system that provides an accessible library of online resources including courses, multimedia content, archives and evaluations.
    • Learning Management System - is a software application or web-based technology that provides a framework to facilitate the learning process.
    • Accessible Technology Tools - are universal support technology tools that are available to all students to support a wide range of educational needs.  Accessible technologies may include supports such as text to speech, speech to text, word prediction, graphic organizer and translation tools.
    • AT Consideration Process - The process of considering if a student requires Assistive Technology (AT) to make progress toward academic and IEP goals, as well as have access to core grade-level curriculum.

    Checklist for Acquiring Accessible Curriculum Content

    At this point in the course, you are familiar with how to choose and/or create Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) for your students.  However, the real challenge is to make sure every school district's core curriculum materials are born accessible, to begin with!  Sometimes teachers and curriculum specialists create their own online curricula and other times textbooks or online resources are purchased. How can you help assure that ALL core and supplemental curricula meet digital accessibility requirements?  

    Session Objective:

    • Review your school district or organization's curriculum content and analyze how it could be more accessible for all students.

    The Special Education Technology Center (SETC) has created an Accessible Educational Material (AEM) Checklist to help you, your school team, and administrators assess the accessibility of the core curriculum you are currently using!  This will help you to identify the areas of need and create an action plan to advocate for positive change to benefit your students.  What team members can you gather to consider, discuss and fill out this checklist for your district?

    Screenshot of the AEM Checklist form

    Screenshot of the AEM Checklist page 2

    Screenshot of AEM Checklist page 3

    What does this look like in a district?

    Mount Vernon talks about how they consider accessibility in the curricula adoption process. 

    Considering Accessibility in Curriculum Adoption - Mount Vernon (1:54 min.)

    Reflection Question:

    1. How could removing barriers to accessible curriculum increase participation in general education classrooms for students with disabilities?

    2. Reflect on the Self Assessment Rubric below as you think about applying your learning to your instructional practice. Where are you on the continuum?

    OVERVIEW
    level 1

    EXPLORE
    level 2

    APPLICATION
    level 3

    I have a general understanding of requirements for accessibility of curriculum content.I studied the AEM checklist and can describe at least one way I can make my curriculum more accessible.I have connected with the curriculum team in my district to share this AEM checklist and advocate for improvement. 

    Glossary:

    • Accessible Educational Material:  Content and materials designed to be accessible to all learners, including those with disabilities, ensuring equitable access and engagement with educational resources.
    • Alternative Text:  A concise description added to an image or graphic in digital content, providing a textual alternative for those with low vision or blindness or others who prefer textual descriptions. 
    • Assistive Technology:  Tools, devices, software, or equipment that assist individuals with disabilities in enhancing their functional capabilities and promoting independence in various aspects of life.
    • Captioning:  The process of displaying text on a screen that corresponds to the audio of a video or broadcast, providing accessibility for individuals with hearing impairments, or learning disabilities.
    • Descriptive Text:  Descriptive text or audio description, is a text or voice narration that provides concise and objective descriptions of visual elements within a video to make it accessible for individuals who are blind or have low vision or others who have difficulty processing visual info.
    • Keyboard Strokes:  Using specific combinations of keys on a keyboard to navigate,, interact, and access digital content and applications without relying on a mouse or other pointing devices, ensuring accessibility for individuals with mobility or dexterity impairments.
    • Transcripts:  Transcripts provide a textual record of the dialogue, narration, or audio elements in a video or audio file, enabling accessibility for those who are deaf or hard of hearing or those who prefer reading over listening.
    • Universal Technology:  A range of technology tools, devices, and software that are accessible and available to all students, facilitating learning and accommodating diverse needs and abilities.

    Resources, Glossary, & Research

    Resources


    Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

    Assistive Technology Act of 2004

    Bookshare

    CAST's 2023 tipsheet for creating accessible docs: Tips for Accessible Education Materials

    Communicating Digital Accessibility Requirements (CAST)

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004

    National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

    OCR video series

    SETC's 8 Tips to Make Curriculum Content Accessible

    SETC's webpage:  Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

    SETC's Accessible Educational Material (AEM) Checklist

    SETC’s webpage: Access to Storybooks

    SETC’s webpage:  Access to Chapter Books, Text Books and More

    SETC's webpage: Accessibility of Learning Management Systems for Distance Learning

    SETC's webpage:  Accessibility Tools Across Platforms

    SETC's webpage:  Expression Ideas with Multimedia Support

    SETC's webpage:  Learn more about CC and translation tools

    SETC's webpage: Converting Worksheets with iPad

    SETC's Links and Resources to Support Students with Specific Disabilities

    SETC's webpage:  Making Worksheets Accessible

    SETC's webpage: Options to Support the Writing Process

    SETC's webpage: Read Aloud Accessibility Features and Tools 

    SETC's Tech Accessibility Profile

    SETC's webpageLearn more about CC and translation tools

    Course Glossary 

    • Accessibility - The practice of making information, activities, and/or environments sensible, meaningful, and usable for as many people as possible.
    • Accessible digital text - malleable and can be easily transformed in many different ways depending upon student needs and the technology being used to display the content.
    • Accessible Reading Format - customized format for specific needs such as audiobooks, braille, large print, following with highlighted text.color backgrounds and text style.
    • Accessible Technology Tools - are universal support technology tools that are available to all students to support a wide range of educational needs.  Accessible technologies may include supports such as text to speech, speech to text, word prediction, graphic organizer and translation tools.
    • Accommodation - An alteration of the environment, curriculum format, or equipment that allows an individual with a disability to gain access to content and/or complete assigned tasks.
    • ADA - Americans with Disability Act is a law which mandates that public and private spaces must be made accessible to individuals with sensory, cognitive and physical impairments or limitations. 
    • AEM:  Accessible Education Materials are content and materials designed to be accessible to all learners, including those with disabilities, ensuring equitable access and engagement with educational resources.
    • AEM formats - The customarily accessible formats include braille, tactile graphics, large print, audio and accessible digital text.
    • AI - Artificial Intelligence simulates human intelligence through the programming of a computer or machine to perform complex tasks. 
    • Alternative Access -  Adaptive computer input methods or devices to enable a person with disabilities to use a computer. Input methods may include touch, switch, mouse and eye gaze. Devices may include joysticks, modified keyboards, or modified keyboards.  
    • Alternative Pencil - is anything that provides a student with access to all 26 letters of the alphabet for use in writing.  Access for students with significant disabilities often involves partner assisted scanning.
    • Alternative Text: A concise description added to an image or graphic in digital content, providing a text alternative for those with low vision or blindness or others who prefer text descriptions.
    • Annotation - a note or drawing added to an image, diagram, or document.
    • Assistive Technology: Tools, devices, software or equipment that assist individuals with disabilities in enhancing their functional capabilities and promoting independence in various aspects of life.
    • AT Consideration Process - The process of considering if a student requires Assistive Technology (AT) to make progress toward academic and IEP goals, as well as have access to core grade-level curriculum.
    • Audio or Voice Note - is an audio file that is created by speaking into an electronic device which can be saved and accessed later as a reminder or to support the brainstorming process in writing.
    • CAST National AEM Center - Center for Applied Special Technologies:  National Accessible Educational Materials Center
    • CC - Closed Captions (Captioning) or subtitles are both processes of displaying text on the screen of a computer or television for people who cannot hear the audio or need both audio and visual to make a video fully accessible. 
    • Computer Platform - A computer or hardware device and/or associated operating system, or a virtual environment, on which software can be installed or run. 
    • Descriptive Text (or audio description): is a text or voice narration that provides concise and objective descriptions of visual elements within a video to make it accessible for individuals who are blind or have low vision or others who have difficulty processing visul information.
    • Digital Accessibility -  is the design of technology content, products and environments using assistive technology to help people with various disabilities have full access to that content or service.
    • Digital Platform - is a structured learning system that provides an accessible library of online resources including courses, multimedia content, archives and evaluations.
    • Digital Screen Reader - software program that allow users with visual or learning difficulties to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer or braille display.
    • EPUB - is an accessible ebook file format for digital books, compatible with eReaders on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
    • Graphic Organizer -  is a powerful organization tool to support writing that uses visual design templates to demonstrate relationships between facts, concepts or ideas.
    • Human narrated books - read by a human person and recorded as an audio file
    • Instructional Materials Adoption - is a process guided by state legal requirements that is used to select and approve instructional materials for students.
    • Keyboard Strokes: Using specific combinations of keys on a keyboard to navigate, interact, and access digital content and applications without relying on a mouse or other pointing devices, ensuring accessibility for individuals with mobility or dexterity impairments.
    • Learning Management System - is a software application or web-based technology that provides a framework to facilitate the learning process.
    • Live translated Captions - is the process of taking audio and simultaneously converting it into text in real-time.
    • NIMAS - The National Instructional Materials Access Center is a conformance standard for providing accessible textbook files, related core instructional materials and digital instructional materials to students in the classroom.
    • OCR: Optical Character Recognition is a method for scanning text and using text recognition to convert a picture of that text into a format that can be read aloud and edited.
    • OCR - Office of Civil Rights
    • POUR - The acronym POUR stands for Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust.  These 4 qualities define an accessible user experience.
    • RFP's - Request For Proposal is a document that an organization or school district creates as a proposal to a potential vendor for purchase of curriculum content or a technology tool.
    • Select to Speak or Speak Selection - is a feature that reads text on a screen after it has been selected with mouse cursor of touch access method.
    • SLIDE - is a mneumonic that stands for styles, links, images, design and evaluation which represent the guidelines for creating accessible documents and presentations.
    • STT - Speech to Text (AKA speech recognition or dictation) is technology that enables human speech to be converted automatically into text. 
    • Tactile Graphics - images, such as maps, charts, and graphs that are designed to be interpreted by touch.
    • Translation - is the process of reworking text from one language into another to maintain the original message and communication. 
    • Transcripts - provide a text record of the dialogue, narration, or audio elements in a video or audio file, enabling accessibility for those who are deaf or hard of hearing or those who prefer reading over listening.
    • TTS - Text to Speech is the conversion of printed or digital text to audio.
    • Universal Technology -  A range of technology tools, devices, and software that are accessible and available to all students, facilitating learning and accommodating diverse needs and abilities.
    • WCAG - Web Content Accessibility Guidelines set a global standard for making web content more accessible for people with disabilities and others who need accommodations for vision and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivities, learning disabilities and cognitive limitations.
    • Web Browser - is a type of software that allows users to find and view websites on the internet.
    • Word Prediction - is a digital tool that support spelling by predicting words as the user types letters based on spelling, syntax, and frequency of word use.

    Research

    Carl, D., Zabala, J., Karger, J., & Curry, C. (n.d.). AEM Center Brief: Accessible Educational Materials in the IEP. National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED616180.pdf 

    CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org

    Edyburn, D. L. (2010). Would You Recognize Universal Design for Learning if You Saw It? Ten Propositions for New Directions for the Second Decade of UDL. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33(1), 33–41. https://doi.org/10.1177/073194871003300103

    Fullan, M., & Quinn, J. (2015). Coherence: The right drivers in action for schools, districts, and systems.      Corwin Press.

    Lewis, T. (2022). High-leverage practices for Inclusive Classrooms. (J. McLeskey, B. Billingsley, M. Brownell, & L. Maheady, Eds.). ROUTLEDGE. 

    Maheady, L., Billingsley, B., Brownell, M., & Lewis, T. (2019). High-leverage practices for inclusive classrooms. J. McLeskey (Ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

    National Center on Accessible Educational Materials. (2021, July 20). Module 4: Selecting Accessible Digital Materials & Technologies. CAST. https://aem.cast.org/learning-series/module-4-selecting-accessible-digital-materials-technologies

    National Center on Accessible Educational Materials. (n.d.). Vetting for accessibility. CAST. https://aem.cast.org/acquire/vetting-accessibility