Sunday, September 8, 2019

Heading Structure Guidance to Make Content Better & Accessible

Proper heading structure not only helps to make content accessible, it also helps to make content better for everyone. 

Here's why content is better with headings 

Structure

Headings allow those visiting your content to see the structure more easily. It allows screen readers to identify the structure and read it aloud.

Table of Contents

When you create proper heading structure, it automatically generates a table of contents that you can insert into your document.

Outline

When you use heading structure, in Google docs, it creates a handy, dandy outline view in your document.

Hyperlinks

In Google docs, every heading has its own hyperlink. This makes it super easy to link someone to a specific section of your content. 


Screenshot of this article in Google Docs showing the outline structure that results from headings.
This is what happens in Google Docs when using headings.

Heading basics

Heading 1

Heading 1 is the heading for the page. It often is also the title of the page and tells users what the page is about. 

Heading 2

Heading 2 helps organize content into sections. 

Heading 3 and beyond

Heading 3 down to heading 6 are subsections of the prior heading. A subsection of heading 2 would be heading 3. A subsection of heading 3 is heading 4. This goes all the way to heading 6. 

It’s important to keep your headings in chronological order. Never skip a heading.

Learn more about accessible content

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provide detailed information on how to create accessible content in a number of ways. Visit the guidelines to learn more about the guidelines in general or headings in particular.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Making Print Documents & Posters Accessible

Innovative educators often use print documents. This may occur when displaying posters, student work, or infographics on a wall or bulletin board. Another common reason for print is when information is handed out, mailed, or back packed home to families.  Usually this material is not accessible to all people including those with disabilities or who speak languages other than English, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Making Print Documents Accessible

People who need assistive technology to read materials--whether because of a disability or because of their needs for translation--have to have digital versions to use with their assistive technology.  For that reason, whenever you create something that's “for print,” you must:
  • Host a digitally, accessible copy of print documents somewhere such as on your website. 
  • Include a link to this document, or the website where it is hosted, on the printout you provide.

Formatting

The way you format a print document also affects how accessible it is. Consider creating a large print version of the content. This requires the document use:
  • Use large print with at least 18 point font
  • Use a sanserif font like Arial or Calibri
  • Use high contrast of at least 4:5:1

QR Codes

QR Codes are one way for people with disabilities to get from a printout to an equivalent web page. 
  • To generate a QR Code, visit your favorite QR Code generator. Pick one that won't expire. If you're not sure how, check out these tips and these instructions on how to generate a QR Code.
  • Once you provide a link, a code is generated that can be placed in a document, along with the phrase, Access a digital version of this < poster, flyer, etc> above the QR code.
Says: How to make a QR code then shows four QR codes: Generic, Facebook, Twitter, Google. The photo is from a video on how to make QR codes.
Don't know how to create a QR Code? Watch this video.

Alternative Experience

Keep in mind however, that QR codes may not be a preferred option for everyone. Your best option is to provide access to content in a variety of ways such as:
  • Braille copies of your print document
  • A large print version of the content
  • Have flash drive handy for digital download
  • Send the content to your audience digitally via email or text

Inaccessible Digital Platforms

There are still many digital platforms that are lagging behind in their ability to make accessible content. This is particularly true for publishing platforms that create content like brochures, flyers, and infographics.

Alternative Digital Content

The best option is always to generate original content on an accessible platform. If that is not possible, you must provide an alternate, accessible version of the content. This can be:
  • An accessible Word or Excel document
  • An accessible Google document
  • A webpage which contains all of the information provided by the inaccessible platform

Your Turn

What do you think? Is this something you have tried or would try? Do you have other ideas for making print material accessible? Anything missing?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Parent. Educator. Abled & Disabled. Read @HabenGirma 's Book

The book cover shows Haben Girma in profile, confidently facing forward in a blue dress. The background is a warm red, and white text over the bottom half of the image says, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. Haben Girma."  

Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law


Five Star Review! 

I was blown by the wisdom, fearlessness, and insights of Haben Girma. After hearing her speak, then meeting her at an Accessibility Expo hosted by the New York City Department of Education, I couldn't wait to read her book.

After spending a day devouring this book, my advice as a seasoned educator and administrator to every educator, parent, abled person, and person with (or knows someone with) a disability is this: 


Read this book! I've learned more from this one book than any class I took in all my years of education. Since reading it, I have continuously drawn from the important, first-hand advice and insights that will benefit educators and the students and parents they serve.

This book is is eye-opening, enlightening, and incredibly innovative. The way Haben figures out ways to use technology for learning, connecting, and communicating is fascinating and creative. Parents and educators will be inspired to empower the youth they work with and/or raise and love, to do the same.

Get this book and get smarter with insights and wisdom from Haben Girma.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Email Is Dead. Here's the Future of Communication

Forget inbox zero. For most, that's not practical these days. Unfortunately, today, much of what gets to email is junk, other, clutter, and/or spam. With hundreds or thousands of emails piling in, they're also, frankly difficult to keep track of. Also, more and more email providers are starting to charge you for email once your accounts begin to bloat with all this junk you will be asked to fork over a monthly fee. What's more, email is on the road to being considered personally identified information. That means email directories or lists may be a problem because they are, or could be, violating general protection data regulations. 

So what is the future of communication?

Online communities

Logos for Slack, Teams, Workplace and Facebook

Personal communication

It's not texting. By design, texting often doesn't work well across platforms. It's also not the best format for organizing, sharing, planning and more. The other issue is that you must have the phone number of the others you are communicating with. Another personally identifiable information issue. While there are some text platforms people can join with an invite code, these still are not the most popular. 

While platforms can and will change, love it or hate it, for personal life, right now, Facebook is winning. Groups partnered with messaging beats the alternative.  Phone, email, or other sharing is not required. Instead just tell someone to connect with you in the group. 

Professional communication

For professional communication you've got Facebook Workplace, Slack, and Teams. No more need to share your email or phone.  Instead you just share with others how to link up with you in the appropriate platform. 

Once you're in platform, you don't have to worry about the email related issues. Most have the ability to phone or video conference. What's best is that the junk/spam is generally handled well by moderators and community members.

The Death of Email

It is becoming harder and harder to track, keep up with, sort, and stay on top of the few priority emails that come through. Email is evolving toward the point of extinction and that's okay. Change is hard, but the time has come for us all to evolve towards the newer and more effective online community method of communication.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Treating Workplace Attachment Disorder


email attachment image with the "no" sign over it.

We all work with someone suffering from an attachment disorder. You know that person. Despite the fact that you've sent them a link to a perfectly good collaborative document, they've taken the liberty to disconnect from the original document. They’ve copied and pasted your document into Word. Tracked changes. Then, they've arrogantly sent it back to the group as an attachment. Meanwhile, by the time they've done this, the original, collaborative document already had oodles of updates and edits from other team members.

Lack of understanding

However, people with attachment disorders don't understand this. They may not even care. They just tell you to look at their version and integrate any changes. They don't get that their version is like so ten versions ago. They missed all the comments, updates, and banter on the collaborative version. They've just made a lot more work for you, and, it is quite likely that they aren't the only one with attachment disorder.

It’s not unusual for another old-school colleague to also have attachment disorder. They did the same thing sending their new version to you as well.  

Now you have three versions of the document, even though you intentionally were using a collaborative document to avoid version control issues and thus extra work for everyone.

You’re just wasting your time if you try pleading with those suffering from attachment disorder to go to update the original collaborative document. Without an intervention and extensive treatment, they just can't. Attachment issues are serious to the person who has an aversion to connecting and collaborating with others. 

Attachment issues

People with attachment disorder often have control issues. Version control that is. Their version is the version everyone must be beholden to. There is no regard for the desire to have one version. They may have anger problems. They sent you their version. Take it or leave it. They just feel more comfortable working the way they do, so deal with it. They may have difficulty showing genuine care for other people's time. Working this way is easier for them, so everyone else must accommodate that. They also may have an underdeveloped conscience, failing to show guilt, regret, or remorse about not collaborating and making more work for others. It’s not their problem. It’s yours. So get over it.

Treatment 

Left unresolved, attachment disorders can interfere with workplace productivity. It is important to provide treatment. Unfortunately, those with attachment issues may be resistant. Treatment usually involves many people on a team or project taking a stand together and refusing to accept attachments. It will take training and explaining to get those suffering from attachment disorder to understand the benefits of collaboration, a single source of truth, and the value of one version only. It may be confusing to this person at first, but with consistency and a commitment to collaboration, colleagues usually will start to see progress. The key is not to back down. Standing firm in your rejection of attachments will ultimately result in a more efficient and effective workplace for everyone. 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Making Art Accessible

Amanda Guest works with teenage art enthusiasts who are a part of ArtsConnection. The organization provides students with engaging and authentic art experiences such as exhibiting their work in fancy New York City offices. 

I had the opportunity to meet Amanda's students as they were planning an exhibit to be displayed where I work. We discussed some ideas for displaying art in a way that is accessible. This was an exciting concept for them. As I began speaking, they pulled out their notepads and started taking down ideas about how people with disabilities might access the art they displayed. Below are some of the ideas we discussed and more.

Office wall with three paintings from students.
Art work of ArtsConnection students displayed on an office wall. 

Ideas for making art more accessible

QR Codes

QR Codes are a simple way to begin making art accessible. The QR code can link to a digital space where the piece can be more accessible in a variety of ways. The artist may describe her piece. Others may describe the art. People can respond to questions about the art. A QR code makes the art accessible to those with disabilities and also adds another useful layer for any aesthete.

Tactile Art

Having the option to listen to an audio description of art is quite useful for anyone who wants it. However, someone experiencing a piece of art may want to interpret it for themselves.
Unfortunately, too often the mantra when it comes to art is: Look, but don’t touch. 


Fortunately, more and more artists are realizing there is more to art than what meets the eye. What meets the hands and fingers, can add a whole other experience to art that might be crucial for those with visual needs and helpful for everyone.
  • Textured Paint:  You can take existing art or create new art by layering paint to make it a more tactile experience. John Bramblitt is an artist who uses and has popularized this technique. He lost his eyesight due to complications with epilepsy and Lyme disease. Painting by touch is the way he can create art that appeals to the touch and the sight of fans who appreciate his work. Using texture is a low-tech way to give a vision of an art piece to a person who is blind.
  • 3 Dimensional Art:  A company called 3DPhotoWorks makes tactile printing that delivers visual information to the blind, promotes independence, improves self-confidence and enhances learning. Tactile fine art printing converts any 2-dimensional image to a 3-dimensional, tactile fine art print.

    You don’t have to go to 3DPhotoWorks for 3 dimensional art though. Now that more and more schools have access to 3D printers, students can use their creativity to make 3D printed art. 
  • Multi-Sensory Objects:  Art with multi-sensory objects invites art lovers to interact with and touch the art. You can use objects to create new art or add to existing art. Here’s a fun sticky collage art project.  

Olfactory Art

How about adding the sense of smell to your art? Olfactory art is a technique used by some artists. Be creative and near that art have a jar of goodies that give the art a taste too. Perhaps the aromatic scent comes from a perfume or an essential oil. You could provide a coupon or coupon code to where fans could purchase that which provides the featured scent.

Your Turn

What do you think? Are these some ideas you can see your students incorporating into their projects? Which do you like best? Are there other ways you have seen or can think of making art accessible?