A video about taking photos with Instagram by Blind Film Critic, Tommy Edison surfaced on my Twitter feed not long ago and got me thinking about accessibility again.  Most folks don’t often acknowledge accessibility when it comes to  things in their daily lives.

Throughout my career in education, accessibility has become a fairly critical component to choosing software, services and technology-related accommodation tools.  When evaluating or deciding on new technology, especially software, it is very important to keep in mind that not all of our users have typical vision, hearing or mobility.

Finding software that is Section 508 compliant has recently become much easier as tech companies scramble to get their share of the market–especially in education.  We strive to take this into consideration as much as possible–when it’s possible.  Closed captioning and compatibility with screen readers are features that you’d think were prolific in today’s tech-centric world, but only until recently have I seen the Section 508 badges proudly displayed as major selling points from vendors.

A typical source of frustration for individuals with low vision are inaccessible course documents.  EdTech is called upon frequently to discuss the importance of OCR (Optical Character Reconition) when it comes to documents.  OCR enables words to be recognized and read aloud by a screen reader.  If you aren’t ensuring that your PDFs for courses are OCR’d, please do so!  This is an important action to meet reasonable accommodations for students, faculty and staff who may require a screenreader.  If you’d like resources on how to accomplish making the PDFs you post to Moodle or online accessible, contact Educational Technology.

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