Digital accessibility course – week 4

This week is about making web content accessible.

Although I am familiar with HTML in my work, I have to check my knowledge again by reviewing the Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG2.0) and the Web Accessibility Tutorials. I am glad to read the difference between WCAG1.0 and WCAG2.0 too. I realised that I still make mistakes when using “alt” to describe image.

The WCAG2.0 provides 12 guidelines and 4 principles for creating accessible web content. As more and more multimedia resources added into our e-learning system, I noticed the guideline 1.2 “Time-based Media: Provide alternatives for time-based media”. It’s very useful and can help us to reduce accessible barriers when creating the online resources.

With WAI-ARIA, developers can make advanced web applications accessible and usable to people with disabilities. Reading the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG), I started to think if Xerte Online Toolkit (1) has made the authoring tool itself accessible, and (2) helps authors produce accessible content.

There are 3 levels of conformance:

  • Level A (lowest): It is the minimum level of conformance, which means the web page satisfies all the Level A Success Criteria, or a conforming alternate version is provided.
  • Level AA: The Web page satisfies all the Level A and Level AA Success Criteria, or a Level AA conforming alternate version is provided.
  • Level AAA (highest): The Web page satisfies all the Level A, Level AA and Level AAA Success Criteria, or a Level AAA conforming alternate version is provided.

The important thing to know is that WCAG2.0 does not cover all accessibility problems, therefore conducting conformance checking of WCAG2.0 does not prove your website support accessibility to everyone.

The best way of testing a website accessibility is to combine the conformance testing and user testing as both ways have pros and cons.

Conformance testing includes two types testing below. However, it does not involve real users, but user testing may be time consuming, expensive and having difficulties to find suitable real users.

  • automatic testing, which is using programming to test. You can use WAVE and AChecker.
  • manual testing, which is experts inspection.

Through an example of improvement of a web site by applying the WCAG 2.0, I see the differences between applying WCAG2.0 and not applying it. It’s a good way to make us think about the online resources that we have developed, and what we can do.

Similar to previous weeks, I learnt some useful resources:


What and How to Teach with Video – Week 1

The Digital Accessibility course I took on FutureLearn is very useful. It took my spare time but I enjoyed to learn new things that I can bring into practice immediately. I noticed a course “What and how to teach with video” on EMMA, another MOOC platform. I think it will be interesting and useful too as using video is so popular nowadays. Thus I decided to register. Although I was far too late, it’s still good to have the opportunity to learn it.

Firstly, I list some of the comparisons between EMMA and FutureLearn in terms of my experience.

  • Both websites are easy to use.
  • EMMA is beta version, so loading the course pages is slow.
  • EMMA provides blog functionality. However, this blog area is not course-based. It is a public blog opening to all EMMA users.
  • EMMA blog does not have spelling check feature.
  • EMMA blog – Add New Post – New Post Content – does not support Font and Colours settings.
  • EMMA comments do not support paragraph spacing, so make comments hard to read.
  • EMMA does not have ‘like’ feature option for comments, and can’t reply to a reply.
  • Both websites provide Progress for me to check. EMMA provides more details in one picture so I can see which one I have done, which one I haven’t easily.

The course has a clear structure and it uses videos in an excellent way because it’s topic is Teaching with Video.

The first week is about what to teach with video, leading to robust learning outcomes. It’s presented as four domains: Cognitive, Experiential, Affective, Skills and 33 Potent pedagogic roles. I watch videos every day and make videos occasionally, but never really summarised what I use video for. Taking this chance I will learn it systematically from Jack Koumi.

I really like that it has been separated between techniques (you facilitate learning by using video and you use video to provide realistic experiences) and teaching functions (what you try to teach by using video). At the beginning I was a bit confused between some of roles and a video example could play multiple roles. However, after using the guideline to check some of the videos I watched on Youtube, the 33 potent pedagogic roles do make sense.

Also I quite like the handout for each lesson, and the video in each unit was broken down by explanation and examples. As I registered late, reading other people’s comments are interesting. However, there are other languages in it, which is difficult for me to understand. I don’t know if EMMA can provide automatic translation for these non-English languages.

Digital accessibility course – week 2

I enjoyed learning new and practical things in week two.

I add two things of the course design which have given me good experience.

  • It provides exercises and quiz in the section which are designed timely and not lengthy.
  • People’s comments provide extra useful resources.

Technology can be very helpful. Human can design and create assistive technology to compensate for limitations relative to mobility and speech. I suppose this is “When God closes a door, He always opens a window.” Having a disability does not exclude people from discovering and pursuing their passions in life. The incredible examples are:

I have started to aware many technologies I never heard of. I listed some below. I thought I would be able to use these technologies easily, but actually it’s complex, especially I had to try them in some way that I don’t usually do. For instance, I tried the NVDA on Windows 10. I closed my eyes, and only used the keyboard to work out what a webpage looks like by listening to what the software tells me. It’s no success I could follow and find the information easily. Listening to the robot voice made me tired and annoyed too. The exercises let me see how technologies/documents/webpages have been designed without thinking of accessibility. Online resource creators (including me) can easily forget the accessibility guidelines.

The most import point of this week is learning how to make document accessible. Here are things I learnt particularly and I have started to apply them in my own document creation from this week.

  • I never noticed that there is an “Insert captions” feature for an image in MS-Word. I often create an caption under the figure/image myself.
  • Between Decorative image, Informative image, and Functional image, I felt I haven’t used the “alt” tag in the functional images properly most of time. The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative tutorial is really helpful.
  • Using”alt” tag for Group of images
  • A mistake – using style (e.g, bold enlarged text) instead of proper headings
  • A mistake – putting blank lines between paragraphs rather than setting the “space before/after” attribute for paragraphs
  • The accessibility guideline provided in the course is very useful for auditing a document for accessibility.

Digital accessibility course – week 1

I registered the “Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society” online course, which started on 6th February.

With my previous experience of a software engineer, I knew that the good or bad of an application is largely related to how much the designers/programmers know their users. I took an “Interaction Design” course as a part of my degree many many years ago. I learnt how our own brain illusion can affect our understanding and designs. Although in my work I haven’t been involved in creating/developing products/applications any more, I see many examples of learning content delivered without thoughtful design and users complaining about the difficulty and inconvenience when use a system (including myself!). I hope through this course, I refresh my knowledge; learn this topic systematically, especially considering the disabled/elderly users, which I may not have enough knowledge of; and start to improve my practices.

This is my first MOOC experience. Because it doesn’t have a blog area in the course, I decide to write down my experience here.

First, I noticed the course itself is a good example regarding to digital accessibility. I list some.

  • It clearly presents online communication etiquette and content copyright.
  • It provides transcript for each audio/video clip. The transcript is easy to read and searchable. I can access to it at any time.
  • It provides a glossary (downloadable) which helps us to check the vocabularies used in the course.
  • The comments field supports editing and spelling check, which is very useful to avoid typos.
  • I can check my comments and progress quickly.
  • Video materials are downloadable.
  • Audio materials can be set to play with different speed.

Second, the most mind-opening statements for me are:

  • Professor Mike Wald said “Everybody can think of themselves as only temporarily not having a disability, because at some point in their life as they get older, they will have some sort of disability.
  • “… disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference. … An impairment is defined as long-term limitation of a person’s physical, mental or sensory function.” from Scope
  • The term ‘Usability’ is normally used to refer to the actual use of the technology by a particular target group of users and contexts (e.g. including whether they find it easy to learn to use). The term ‘Accessibility’ is normally used to refer to the use of the technology by everyone rather than just a specific group of users (e.g. including whether blind people can also use the technology).”  from section 1.6.
  • Up to one in seven people in Europe may have speech, language and literacy difficulties at some time in their lives.” from section 1.15.
  • As Neil Milliken said that “everyone in an organisation should have some knowledge of the issues that affect one in five of the population”. I think I never even asked myself what is the issue?

Third, the new knowledge that I knew little about:

  • I realised how little knowledge I have about the UK law/legislation. I learnt that “…only Accessibility has actual legislation making it illegal to disadvantage a disabled person through an inaccessible product or service.” In the UK, it’s the Disability Equality Act (2010).
  • Everyone can influence their organisation. However, to be able to do so, it needs a hub and spoke, effectively, and champions. More importantly, it needs an executive sponsor who is higher-up enough to support companions.
  • Subtitles and captions are different. I now know why Blackboard Collaborate product uses the term ‘captions’.
  • Seeing the examples of people who have dyslexia, hearing impairment, deaf, visual impairment, and cerebral palsy, and the discussions about the challenges they face daily, I appreciate what I have. I started to see more of people’s needs and learn the existing technologies that they are using but I haven’t heard of.

Fourth, the course opens many resources to us. I am starting to think how much work I have been involved in has met the Accessibility standard, and how many of our current web resources follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. The new tools/resources that I can immediately use in my practice are:

Finally, I list a few inconvenient points.

  • The learning resource links are not opened in a new window/tab. When click on a link, it opens in the same window, which if you are typing some comments and click on a link accidentally, you will lose the unpublished comments. You need to type again.
  • It does not support ‘searching’ in the course.
  • It suggests that 3 hours/week studying time are needed. In fact, I have spent much more time on learning course materials, reading people’s comments, posting comments, and digesting what I learned in this week. Is it because I haven’t been a student for too long? I guess if the learner has already had the background knowledge, they can learn much quicker than I did, but still 3 hours/week seems impossible.

Don’t ignore the web design concepts in your interactive materials

Nowadays many web-based tools are designed easy-to-use. Users can quickly deliver content through webpages. However, we notice that people may not consider the web design elements when they create interactive teaching materials online.

Questions we often come across are like below. It’s hard for people to know everything of web design and their user experience. So I list some quick resources that may help you to design online materials better.

  • I want to use an image on the page, but where can I get good free images?

There are massive image resources on the Internet. However finding a suitable image from a reliable resource and using the image legally are the key. The UK Intellectual Property Office has published an Intellectual property – guidance: Copyright notices. Before you searching images, read it first. Below are useful resources for you.

  • Why does the image look differently on other people’s machine from mine?

Your audiences view the page using different mobiles, tablets and browsers. Different web browsers that are created by different companies may not display web pages the same way. Thus, make sure you have tried on different devices if possible and make sure your webpages are cross-browser compatibility. Using some of the recommended tools to check your webpages.

  • What highlight colour on the page should I use if I want call people’s attention?

Think about what theme colours you have on your webpage. Who are the audience? Does the page or image on the page contain red/green colours combination that may affect colour blind users? Do you have more than three key colours on the page? What do you want to highlight, for instance texts or a specific area. Is it possible to call user’s attention without to use highlight colours? Ask random audience to have a look at your webpage and see how they respond to it.

Using some of the resources to improve your pages.

Names Pronunciation Tools

More and more international people work in different countries, we therefore inevitably encounter the moment that we need to call someone’s name. Also if you graduated from a university, you wouldn’t ignore the moment when vice-chancellor was calling each individual’s name, especially the international student’s name. To avoid mispronunciation and to help people pronounce your name correctly, you can use some tools to assist.

Hear Names allows you to hear the pronunciation of difficult names. I checked a few Chinese names. As it’s recorded by Chinese native speakers so the pronunciation is correct. However (1) it only covers common Chinese surnames. (2) I searched my name (no matter what order I used), it showed as Thai Girl Names and the pronunciation is in Thai. (3) It doesn’t include Welsh yet.

Inogolo is a easy-to-use website that provides the English pronunciation of the names of people, places, and miscellaneous stuff. I searched my name. It has my first name, but no my surname. Its pronunciation was recorded by English native speakers so the Chinese pronunciation is not as correct as the way Chinese native speakers will say. Generally speaking it’s better than the recorded pronunciation from the VOA Pronounce website.

NameCoach allows users to voice-record their names online so others can easily learn and remember how to call them. It’s handy and the pronunciation is correct as it’s recorded by the person themselves.

Pronounce Names is a website that allows you to record your name and add it into the dictionary so that people can learn its pronounce.

The Name Engine is a website provides audio name pronunciations of athletes, entertainers, politicians, newsmakers, and more.

VOA Pronounce is the resource that helps you to find how to pronounce names correctly, quickly and easily. I checked a few Chinese names. As it’s pronounced by English native speakers, the Chinese pronunciation is still not as correct as the way Chinese native speakers will say.

Baby Names of Ireland helps you to check pronunciation of Irish Names.

Behind the Name is a website for learning about all aspects of surnames.

Nordic Names is a personal website that for people to learn first names.

Twitter and why tweet

After the ALTC, I thought it’s necessary to write my reflection on using Twitter.

I like Catherine Sellars’ tweet about the difference between Twitter and Facebook. That’s exactly what I was doing. Purposely I made my Facebook as a personal space, me-centered  area and only added people I know in person. I didn’t share my own pictures (I mean pictures have me in) because I thought they all know how I look like and we talk off-line. Until recently I realised that people actually have more interaction with me if I also share some pictures of me.

I didn’t twitter much although I did read on Twitter. Purposely my Twitter is for me to exploring and learning new ideas, trends and news. I didn’t try to build a social network. Why didn’t I twitter more? Reasons are:

  • I thought my work-related ideas are talked with colleagues.
  • I write blogs and people will come across it anyway.
  • Not sure if the thought/idea is suitable to be open to everyone.
  • Not sure if the information adds value into the cyberspace as it’s overload somehow.
  • If people have a Twitter account, they will read the information I come across.

Recently I started to re-twitter more information when I read through on Twitter. I noticed that people started to follow me. This kind of encouraged me to re-twitter more. A bit of bigger ego! Then I realised that I spent hours to read/expand more and more interesting stuff through Twitter. That’s not what I expected. So I did this:

  • Day time have 15 mins browse and at night have half an hour quickly browse on Twitter. Weekends vary. If it’s an interesting report, article, or project website for instance, I bookmark it and will use my to-read/to-learn time to look at it in detail. I know I miss news and useful information everyday. It’s never possible for me to read all interesting information on my Twitter. I just focus on what I have received and believe that valuable information that I missed will definitely appear again as people re-twitter. This approach helps me to manage my time well.

Meanwhile, I wonder why do people follow me on Twitter? I don’t know him/her and the twitterer’s tweets seem not relevant. My curiosity was why do people follow me rather than follow the person who I re-twittered the information from? Am I too cheeky? I asked people randomly in the ALTC “Why do people follow you on Twitter?” “I’m not an influencer, why do people follow me?”

The answers that are particularly to help me understand why do people follow me are below:

  • People trust your judgement of the information you twittered
  • People like your tweets and feel a common interest with you
  • It’s simply sharing

Thus simply accepting it’s networking and sharing, I start to follow more people on Twitter.

I notice that most twitterers state something like “my own view” or “not represent employer” on their profiles. To some extent the twitterers are cautious about the quality of the information they share as well as how other people may think about them. They try to keep a balance between “multiple-self” images (we all have!) that they give to others, for instance the information presented on Twitter about the “professional” me in an organisational environment and the “human-being” me in personal life. Actually for me, we just need to accept that the “multiple-self” images is part of human being’s element, neither good nor bad; we should less judge and more accept. Similarly to the problematics of a technology/system is an element of technology. Accordingly, an improvement for @twitter, it would be good for people to have an option to define what their Twitter scope is such as “personal views”, “orgnanisational”, “both” and/or “simply spreading and sharing”.

It may not be a bad thing to make myself more visible.