[Athen] A disturbing trend

Deborah Armstrong armstrongdeborah at fhda.edu
Tue Jun 15 09:51:33 PDT 2021

I'm attending an accessibility workshop today held by the California Community colleges for all our campuses.

Several accessibility checking and remediation tools are being featured, and I think it's wonderful these applications are being more widely employed.

But I had a couple of luddite thoughts as well. It seems like colleges, now instead of training folks are throwing accessibility checkers at the problem. Is it no longer valuable for individuals to learn when they aren't creating accessible content and how to insure they do so, manually and with knowledge?

Also, though using the accessibility checkers is good, I wonder why we don't also use human testers especially since we can often get student workers to do that job. Ask students with various disabilities to try out a website or document using various AT and fill out forms reating their impressions.

I'm not suggesting this be done instead of automated accessibility checkers but in addition. It tells us first whether students need more AT training and second whether a document which checks out accessible is actually usable by the average disabled student.

I've done some accessibility testing for Yahoo, Google and Ebay. Though I'm under NDA and cannot discuss the specifics one common theme was this. I was videotaped and asked to relate my impressions as I navigated various pages and performed tasks I was assigned. I searched for items, filled in forms, located information. Those tapes were shared with developers so they could see real, live disabled people working with their content.

Lastly, we use Canvas here and our faculty received training on creating accessible pages. Most of them do. That's not a problem. The real problem is faculty who instead of building a page simply post a link to a scan (often made with their camera phone) of a textbook page, or an assignment page they've photocopied or even a word document they created for a previous class. I understand faculty don't want to spend hours typing, but posting a scan instead of creating an accessible page is not an inclusive solution. And because it's often a link to a file, automated checkers don't usually catch it.

For me the trend is relying on automation rather than education which bothers me most.


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