Syllabus for Barrier-free Information Technology
PEOPLE NOT TECHNOLOGY
EASI is a non-profit organization, committed to the belief that students and professionals with disabilities have the same right to access information technology as everyone else.
Certificate in Accessible Information Technology
Everyone who completes an EASI course will receive an EASI document of completion for that course. Those completing 5 of these courses will earn the EASI Certificate in Accessible Information Technology.
Course Registration and Schedule
Course registration is $350 with a 20% discount for students. Overseas participants and EASI Annual Webinar members qualify for the student discount.
Schedule for 2017: Jan. 9, July 10
Barrier-free Information Technology is designed to guide an institution in making both its computer and information technology systems fully accessible to its users with disabilities. digitized information is display independent meaning that it can be input and output in ways that make it available to all users regardless of their abilities. Schools are becoming more concerned about providing texts in alternative formats, and the course will describe several different format options and give tips on creating documents in formats such as Word, PDF, PowerPoint, Web pages and DAISY. Libraries are increasingly using digitized information, and libraries can include the formerly "print disabled" as never before. New technologies are now available that significantly increase the participation of students with disabilities in the fields of science and math as the result of research and resources resulting from National Science Foundation grants. The emphasis in this month-long course will be on creating structures that will lead to the institution-wide system change as required by recent disability-related legislation.
The course will be useful for:
- ADA compliance officers
- admissions officers
- computer support staff,
- instructional support staff,
- online learning support staff
- disability services staff,
Smart phones and tablets have become ubiquitous. We are exploring ways this impacts IT and student work. Clearly they have a giant impact on student's personal life, but not enough attentions has been given to its impact on actualy college and university work. We will be looking for ways to integrate their impact on education.
Lesson 1: Introduction and Reasons to Adapt Your Information Technology Systems
This lesson will provide an overview of the entire course. EASI believes That the reasons for an organization to adapt its computer and information technologies include:
- it is the right thing to do!
- it makes economic sense!
- it is the law!
- you should do it for yourself!
As you age you will also become disabled! It is a combination of the carrot and stick. We will start by trying to inspire and motivate you and then we won't get really legal on you, but we will discuss most of the relevant legislation.
Lesson 2: What Is Adaptive Technology? (Computer Input/Output Problems and Solutions)
Most participants in this course will already have some familiarity with adaptive or assistive computer technology. Nevertheless, the lesson will give a quick review of which technologies are relevant and which disability groups benefit from which application.
Computer input problems:
- unable to use the keyboard efficiently
- unable to use the mouse efficiently
- computer input solutions:
- onscreen keyboard
- one-handed keyboard
- alternate mouse
- single switch devices
- voice recognition
Computer output problems:
- unable to see the computer display
- unable to see the keys clearly
Computer output solutions:
- screen reader software
- screen magnification software
Lesson 3: Supportive Computer Applications for Users With Disabilities
People with what are called learning or cognitive disabilities do not have problems seeing the computer display or using the keyboard or mouse. Instead, their problems relate more to understanding and comprehending information. This is not an IQ problem but one of processing, organizing and mastering the content, and it relates both to the activities of reading and writing. The software that they find helpful is not involved in enabling them to use the computer; the software supports their learning activities. Some of these applications include:
- Kurzweil 3000
- word prediction software
- spell checkers and grammar checkers
- concept mapping software
- smart phones and apps that function like the items above
Lesson 4: Accessibility of Electronic Devices, Computer Software and Online Content
This course focuses on making information technology accessible which, for most of us, immediately has us thinking about computers and the Web. The computer, or at least its main feature, the CPU (central processing unit) surrounds us everywhere we go. The display on your car's dashboard has digital displays and you can touch icons to input information into it and read its display. microwaves permit you to input information into it and displays information for you in return. (Obviously developing such items in line with universal design principles would avoid having to retrofit items for special situations) Legislation related to information accessibility in education touches on this vast array of devices. This lesson will alert you to the scope of information technology and points to the rules and guidelines that cover them:
- computer software
- Web pages
- fire alarms
- fax machines
- electronic scanners
- electronic documents of all types
Lesson 5: Creating and Locating Alternative Media
Various laws and court decisions require schools and colleges to provide students who are unable to benefit from standard text with an effective alternative media. Publishers are moving towards providing more electronic texts and this has been encouraged by the
mandate for publishers to provide texts to students in K-12 in alternate format based in the NIMAS format. Common ways to provide books in alternate formats include:
- NLS (Library of Congress)
- Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic)
- scanning hard copy into electronic format with a scanner
Lesson 6: Providing Support for People with Hearing Impairments
Now that computers have all become multimedia applications, people who are deaf also need support in their uses of information technology. Besides a live sign language interpreter, there are ways to provide support using computers These include:
- streaming captions on the Internet
- caption tracks on video tapes or video disks
- real time captions in an Internet Webinar
- real time captions delivered remotely to a classroom
Lesson 7: Access Issues of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)
While providing access to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math has posed complex problems, recent years have brought exciting breakthroughs. The problems cluster around making math fully accessible, making complex graphics accessible and providing the ability for students with disabilities to work with lab equipment.
In the field of math these improvements include:
- Nemeth Braille Code
- Math Speak
After decades of using arts and craft type solutions with strings and pins and similar crude solutions, technology developments made it easier and faster to create hard copy, tactile graphics:
- improved software to modify graphics to produce tactile format
- improvement in Braille embossers to produce graphics
With lab equipment becoming digitized, the displays could be output in different modes:
- digitized lab data could be output in Braille or synthetic audio
- working in teams with lab assistants is usually still required
Lesson 8: Using Accessible IT to Enable the Library to Serve the Former "print disabled"
Libraries are now accessible to students with disabilities especially as more of their resources are digitized. Most of the accessibility information librarians need will be the same as has already been covered, but it will be put in a library context.
Depending on the library size, there should be at least one workstation with the most basic adaptive software available on it:
- screen reader
- screen magnification
- scanner and optical character recognition
- onscreen keyboard
- alternate for a mouse
- voice recognition (provided there is a quiet location for it)
There should be a librarian to assist a person with a disability to use the commercial databases to which the library subscribes but which may not provide the data in an accessible format.
will also be tips provided on ways to provide access to information students may need for their work which still is not available in an accessible format. Some of the computer support programs discussed in lesson 3 might be helpful for students with learning and cognitive disabilities as they use the library workstation.
lesson 9: Training Faculty and Staff
The training for faculty and staff on how to support students with disabilities has to be simple, short and fully respect their needs and attitude. Training only succeeds if the trainees buy into the program.
- awareness training
- skill training
- continuing training
Awareness training should be provided to all new faculty and most staff who interact with students. It should help them to understand different disability groups and how best to support them without becoming patronizing.. Recognize that awareness training is not a one-time event.
Skill training on how to provide electronic information in an accessible format should aim at the needs of the majority of non-technical faculty and staff. It should focus on creating that content in the authoring tools they normally use by creating content using correct document markup. It should avoid technical jargon and also avoid making them learn the accessibility of features they rarely use. Keep it simple! While a handful of people need to have more technical and advanced accessibility knowledge, that should not be the focus of the major skill training program.
Continuing training is required to make support for students with disabilities a genuine commitment. There should be a mechanism to continue to provide awareness and more simple tips on a weekly or monthly program.
Lesson 10 policies and procedures
This final lesson will encourage participants to find out what policies and procedures their institution already has. It will also look at some policies and procedures being used at other institutions. The lesson will also stress 3 things:
- they require active support from top administration
- they need to be designed and implemented in ways that get a "buy-in" from all levels of faculty and staff.
- they need to include some kind of accountability for relevant faculty and staff.
- they need an interdisciplinary team to oversee and implement them.
Course registration is $350 with a 20% discount for students and for overseas participants.