Technology continues to grow and change providing new tools that can hopefully offer new and better ways to efficiently complete the tasks before us. Of course, with every new tool, comes the need for learning how to use the tool first before it can fulfill whatever promise was made to make our lives easier. Is it any wonder that we approach these offerings of new tools with lots of questions and the need for clear answers?
Several new tools are being offered through Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) to assist in creating instructional materials and environments that meet the needs of a diverse population of both students using the materials as well as the content creators. As with any new tool that promotes the ability to create things more easily than before, it is first important to understand what the tool can do. Since the final contracts are still being put into place at TBR, here is just a snapshot to introduce them. Institutions have until September 30, 2016 to opt into the TBR contracts.
Cielo24 offers a service that provides searchable captions as well as transcripts for multimedia files. It is reported that their service is at an accuracy rate of 99%. They offer materials in 16 different languages. The ability to edit the captions is available after receiving a captioned file is available. A free trial prior to actual purchase can be made available.
SiteImprove monitors web site issues through a “crawling” service that can determine if the web site is performing correctly, linking to the correct sites, locating misspellings, as well as finding accessibility issues. It looks at the public facing part of the website every 5 days (or depending on need), in order to determine what fixes are required for users. It follows the WCAG 2.0 A and AA standards in determining what needs to be fixed. There are two strands available for use, and the one currently being discussed is the Content Suite.
Onix Document Conversion Services has been selected as a service that will convert instructional materials to follow the WCAG 2.0 A and AA standards. MathML formatting will be available, although the cost for this will be at a different rate than other materials. There is support for forms and for converting PowerPoint documents to HTML.
Equidox is a PDF to HTML conversion tool that is used to correct issues in a PDF document and convert it to accessible HTML. A toolbar within the Equidox software guides the document author to correct text, images, URL addresses and more. It also can correct the reading order of text in the document. The one point to keep in mind is that the content author will still need to create alternate descriptions (alt text) for all images.
Additional information on the WCAG 2.0 A and AA standards is available from WebAIM or from the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative. A WCAG 2.0 Checklist is also available on the TBR Accessibility Initiative Web Site.