All right. Hi everyone.
Welcome to our sixth webinar of our webinar series.
In this webinar, the accessible classroom redefined,
we're going to take a look at how all students can
benefit from a more inclusive approach in the classroom.
To begin, we will introduce everyone.
So my name is Gabriela Smookler,
I'm a Transcription Specialists here at Verbit
and Scott, Scott I think you're on mute-
Hi everybody. Yes.
Welcome to the webinar,
I'm Scott Ready, I'm the Customer Success
and Accessibility Strategist here at Verbit.
But I'd do just a little bit of background.
I've been in education and
accessibility for over 30 years now.
So it gives you a little bit about my age there.
I've worked in higher education.
I've worked in private practice
and corporate government agencies.
My parents were both instructors
at the Missouri School For The Deaf,
so I had a great opportunity to grow up and
experience what it was actually live
on campus at this school for the deaf.
So that's a little bit of my background. John?
Yeah. Hi everybody.
Great to be on the webinar today,
my name is John Scott.
I'm a product manager on the Blackboard Ally team.
So I work closely with our development team,
as well as do a lot of work in outreach with our clients.
So I spend a lot of time visiting campuses,
learning about their inclusive learning initiatives.
Sorry, there's a phone going off in the background.
Working on their inclusive learning initiatives,
learning how they're taking steps
to become more inclusive.
I have a background, I started in K12
as a special ed teacher.
Then I went and did my doctoral work
in education and learning sciences,
really focused around how different forms
of engagement with different types of texts,
different types of media
affect student engagement, affect learning,
affect cognition, and so I bring
that background with me on the Ally team.
Great. Thank you everyone for introducing yourselves.
On our agenda today,
we will be discussing barriers in higher education,
not only for students with disabilities.
How technology helps break through those barriers,
data insights from Blackboard Ally
and the impact on universal design.
How to incorporate this data
into your learning environment.
How AI and machine learning make scaling a possibility,
why we can all be excited about
upcoming technology enhancements in education.
Then at the end,
we will have some time for questions and answers,
so feel free to write down
your questions in the question box and don't worry,
we'll get to them at the end.
If we don't make it to all of them,
we will be able to send out at the end
all the questions and answers to those as well.
So we'll get to everyone.
So shall we begin with Scott.
Fantastic. Well, thank you. Gabriela.
We really want to start this webinar
by sharing that what we're addressing here
is not just meeting the needs
of students with disabilities
or to pigeonhole a specific accommodation
for a specific disability.
So for example, captioning.
How many of you remember when TV shows would
include a statement at the end of the show that said,
"Captioning provided by whatever company,
for the deaf and hard of hearing."?
Well, they no longer say that.
Because, we all know now that
captioning doesn't only meet
the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing,
but rather it really meets the needs of all of us.
A little statistic here.
In 2014, over 85 percent of all videos on Facebook
were viewed silently by using captions.
Not to mention places such as restaurants,
airports, and other public places
that we've all experienced.
Captioning has really become
an expected way to engage with content.
So in this webinar series,
we have focused on how technology is
enhancing the engagement with content for all students.
John, from your recent
travels meeting with institutions all over the world,
would you share what the landscape is
like in many institutions today?
Gabriela, we want to go to the next slide here.
So when we think about digital accessibility today,
as Scott mentioned, traditionally,
it's been thought of as focused
on students who have disabilities,
who used various assistive technologies,
and typically we've tried to support those students
from a very reactive position.
So a student has a particular need,
they need their content,
instructional materials to work
with an assistive technology that gets sent
over to a disability resource team
or media coordinators and they go ahead,
they remediate that content.
They send it back to the student
and they can go about in their coursework.
Of course, that makes it really hard to ensure that
those students have timely access to their materials,
as more students rely on assistive technologies,
as they become more a part of our everyday life.
I mean our iPhone is an assistive technology,
the demands on those teams become
more harder to ensure equitable access.
It leaves those students very dependent on other people.
So they don't feel a real sense of
independence or autonomy as a learner,
if instructors change a thing last minute,
it's hard for them to stay on task.
Then we also know that many students
don't disclose that they have a disability.
Some research suggests upwards of
66 percent of students who may
qualify for some accommodation
don't disclose for whatever reason,
if it's lack of awareness,
lack of resources, stigma.
So many students who could benefit from
accessible content aren't receiving those benefits today.
Go to the next slide.
So what do those barriers look
like and how do they affect learning?
Well, here you have a scanned PDF.
A scanned PDF, it's just an image,
it's completely inaccessible to
someone who uses a screen reader,
but it's also not a very usable piece of content.
Accessibility barriers actually
create usability issues as well.
So with this scanned PDF,
for anybody who's trying to read it,
the margins are off, it's crooked,
the font is blurry,
it's very blotchy, I can't interact,
I can't highlight things easily,
I can't copy and paste,
I can't search for key words.
So it's a very limiting piece of content.
If we go to the next slide,
there's some compelling research out there
that suggests how usability issues,
accessibility issues affect engagements.
So here's a study from Schmutz et al, 2017.
They looked at non-disabled user engagement with
more accessible websites and less accessible websites.
What they found on those more accessible websites
were those user completed tasks more
quickly and they had improved information retention.
So if we apply a finding like
that to other types of content,
like a scanned PDF or like a video with bad captions,
we're ultimately affecting how people,
how students engage with that content,
ultimately could affect their performance
on exams, performance on tests.
So this becomes much more
than just an accessibility issue.
It becomes really a retention issue.
If we go to the next slide and if we think about
some of the barriers in higher education today,
we did a data study.
We looked at 21 million course files across 700,000
courses and this is the extent of
some of the barriers in content that we saw.
So of the PDFs that we saw,
nearly 13 percent were those scanned PDFs.
Thirty five percent of documents with contrast issues.
So contrast, a perfect example of a usability issue.
Those instructors that love to have
a pink background with the yellow font,
it looks pretty, but nobody can read it,
ultimately, going to affect those students performance.
Nearly 80 percent of images missing a description.
So obviously, essential for someone
who uses a screen reader to be able to hear
what those images are in the content,
but also other text to speech technologies,
like an MP3 from Ally for example.
If it doesn't have image descriptions,
we're limiting opportunities for students
to engage that content in different ways.
We have untagged PDF issues.
So lacking the critical navigation structure for
how people move around in a document,
and 47 percent of documents missing headings.
So adding a heading structure helps
keep a long document organized,
makes it easy to generate an auto table of contents.
So these best practices, again,
while they create these barriers
for students with disabilities,
they really create usability issues
that affect all students.
So if we go to the next slide,
that higher landscape today,
what we have are these walls around content.
We have walls and to get these students over the wall,
we're constantly building a new ladder,
an individual ladder.
So it's not a very scalable process.
It's not a very efficient process.
John, I remember back in the day
when our physical environment had
very similar situation where they were trying to build
out or climb out of the wall if you will.
Gabriela, if you'll go back to
that previous slide there just for a moment.
We're all familiar with the curb cut.
I remember municipalities screaming
about how much it was going to cost them to
actually cut the concrete of the sidewalks
in order to create access from the sidewalk to the street.
Then they would say things like,
"Well, we don't have anybody
in our town that uses a wheelchair,
we don't have a need to have to cut out that concrete."
They saw this as having to try and put a ladder
and climb out of this huge hole.
If we look at the digital accessibility
like you just said,
that's very similar to where we are today.
We feel like we're trying to climb out of a hole,
rather than looking at how we can
be proactive and moving forward.
Yeah, so if we go to the next slide,
that really is the move that we're seeing
more institutions start to think about
and start to put strategies and
resources in place to move from
this position of reactive accessibility
to proactive inclusion,
and really thinking beyond the binary
of ability and disability,
and starting to think about diversity,
starting to think about the diverse needs
of 21st century digital learners.
We know that the higher education landscape is changing.
We have more students that are
returning to school to get new skills.
So how do we think about those students?
Again, not just with
visible disabilities but also students with
various kinds of cognitive
disabilities processing issues, dyslexia.
How do we think about mothers?
People with families who are returning to
school who have work obligations,
and parenting obligations.
How do we think about international students
and second language learners?
Again, those aging students who are returning
to higher education to get new skills,
have particular kinds of needs.
Thinking about those mobile learners,
more and more students rely on
their mobile device to access content.
They're accessing it on the go,
as they commute, as they are on the train, or on the bus.
How do we support those needs?
How do we support the needs of students who
suffer a temporary disability?
Something happens during a semester.
Maybe they suffer a concussion,
they're not able to read their content or something else
happens that really requires
some kind of accommodation with their content.
So for institutions to remain competitive,
for them to recruit and retain these kinds of students,
an inclusive approach is going to help benefit them,
make sure that they can be successful.
We go to the next slide.
Really, this is where I think
Universal Design for Learning
provides a compelling framework
for how we can support those diverse needs and
UDL operates from this mantra of
providing multiple means of representation,
that is the types of learning content that
students interact with, the PDFs,
the PowerPoints, the Word documents
that instructors upload into their courses,
multiple means of engagement.
So that is, how do students feel connected and
motivated to participate in that environment?
How do they think about their own learning process?
Then action and expression.
How do students demonstrate
their understanding of concepts in multiple ways?
How do we give them opportunities to
express their understanding, express their knowledge?
So we're going to focus today on
this first principle of UDL, representation.
Gabriela, if we go to the next slide.
CAST refers to this one as the recognition network,
the What of Learning.
We're really talking about providing
diverse opportunities for students
to engage with their content.
We know that listening to content,
or interacting with content, or reading content,
it activates different neurological
processes in our brain,
it changes kind of cognition,
and so opening opportunities to combine modalities,
to scaffold with different modalities,
it can really enhance study practices.
I like to make a distinction here between what we
call the learner preference in learning styles.
Learning styles is a pedagogical theory
that's been around for some time.
It's really a limiting idea that someone is
oriented towards a particular sensory modality.
That somebody is only a visual learner,
or someone is only an auditory learner.
Learner preference is really
about making strategic decisions about what is
the most appropriate modality or format in
the particular learning contexts
that I'm in this given moment.
We go to the next slide.
For any of those that are participating in this webinar,
we have just completed a webinar last month
with CAST on the Universal Design for Learning.
So I'll put in the chat the location that you can go
to view that webinar if you're
interested in learning more about
Universal Design for Learning.
Yeah, and CAST, that images from
the CAST Consortium and they do amazing work in-,
and these are really key principles
around that multiple representation,
and it's located in lots of different learning theory.
So as I mentioned cutting edge, neuroscience research,
looking at the ways that different kinds of
engagement activate different neurological pathways,
really strengthening how the brain is processing
that information through
those multiple modes of representation.
Fostering medic- if we go back with us again.
If we go fostering metacognitive awareness.
So a lot of times in universities
we focus on teaching the content,
but we also need to think about helping
students become more effective learners.
How did they navigate these complex digital environments?
That metacognitions in executive functioning,
so important to becoming a successful learner.
We see some of the research
around improve retention through multimodal engagement.
Being able to read captions and listen
to the video at the same time has demonstrated effects.
For some students it can be one of
the most important interventions
to help overcome processing issues.
We go to the next slide.
I met a student during my tour around to universities,
his name is Andrew Phoung.
He is a PhD student now at UC Berkeley.
He has a Master's degree from Harvard,
but he was a failing students in elementary school.
So this is a student that seeing success
at some of the most elite institutions in the US
who was a failing student.
It wasn't until he was diagnosed with
these processing challenges that he
found the most effective intervention for him.
For him, it's about being able
to read and listen at the same time.
That multisensory experience helped him
overcome some of his processing challenges,
and it's helped him be more successful.
But he relies on texts around videos,
having those multimodal elements built into it.
Otherwise, he's waiting for
the Accessibility Resources team
to provide that content form,
and he's in a highly competitive graduate program,
his instructors are changing syllabi,
adding additional resources.
He wants to engage with those freely
on his time and not rely on other people.
So when learning environments
are more inclusive for him,
it's just usually beneficial.
He talks to me about the feeling of
being an independent learner.
I think that's such an important part.
Just mentally feeling empowered to be successful,
to have the tools in place to be successful.
Just so important.
Go to the next slide Gabriela.
So there are some challenges
to creating this inclusive environment.
We've talked a lot about what are the benefits of it,
but how do we get there?
Certainly, addressing those existing barriers
at scale is a challenge.
I talked about the extent of
the issues that we saw in content.
Of course, institutions also have
thousands of hours of video that needs to be captioned.
How do you think about addressing
scale? Such a challenge.
How do we support time pressed faculty?
For most faculty, there's
a lack of awareness about accessibility,
best practices, there may
be a feeling that it's not my job,
it's somebody else's job to do this type of work.
How do we help really catalyze
a culture shift for instructors?
The third thing is how do we provide that kind of
personalized learning experience at scale for students?
How do we ensure that that student like
Andrew has the interventions,
the resources in place
to learn in the way that works best for them?
You know, it's interesting John you mentioning that,
that's one of the leading questions that
I have when I work with institutions on captioning.
They have archives of videos
and they have instructors
that are creating lecture capture sessions,
and the realistic question is,
how do we go about getting all this captioned?
One of the wonderful things that
we get to do is to work with
institutions on putting together a strategic plan,
as to how you're going to be able
to not only move forward but
also take a look back at
those archives that are really important
that you want to be able to share
with students in the future.
So yes, this is one of
the really pressing challenges right now,
creating that inclusive environment.
As we go to that next slide,
Ally really takes three parts solution
to trying to solve those challenges.
I think what Ally represents here
is also three really strong pillars
for moving towards an inclusive learning environment.
So the first thing is to leverage machine-learning
and artificial intelligence to automatically
generate alternative formats of learning content,
to take that PDF and transform it
into an MP3, into an ePub,
to provide students choices they can make
autonomous decisions about how
they engage with their learning materials,
to provide an institutional report,
so robust accessibility data and analytics,
to track your progress.
To really strategically allocate
resources and improve your workflows,
improve your processes for again,
tackling that thousands of content items,
that thousands of videos that live in institutions today.
The third part, the instructor feedback.
How do we provide workflows
for instructors to make it easier,
faster for them to build awareness,
address accessibility challenges,
and really start to prioritize
inclusive practice in their course
design to really make it part of their pedagogy?
So it's not an afterthought or it's not something that's
ancillary to their practice but it's really central.
It's as important as any aspect
of the course design process.
We go to the next slide to give you a little bit of
a sense of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning,
just why they're so important
to scaling these types of solutions.
I'll let maybe Scott chime in
about ASR and the work that it does.
Yes. With automated speech recognition
that has actually been designed for education,
the accuracy is remarkable.
Then when you couple the ASR with Artificial Intelligence,
where you're able to actually upload
and feed into the ASR process,
glossaries, documents, syllabus, even digital textbooks,
then we're talking about technology
becoming even smarter and providing
that ability to create a much quicker process.
John and I both agree on this and
we're going to mention this again.
Technology is never going to replace the human.
The subject matter expert, the instructor,
is never going to be replaced by technology.
But how can we work and use
technology to enhance that engagement with
content so that we can focus more on the content rather
than trying to work in being able to engage?
That's exactly right, Scott.
If we go to the next slide here,
with the alternative formats that Ally generates,
so Ally is providing using
Machine Learning algorithms to analyze
this semantic and structural elements of a document,
trying to make some automated accessibility improvements
to that document,
and then use that data,
that source of the document to
generate these alternative formats.
So right next to
their content in the learning management system,
the students can click that little Ally A,
open up the modal on the right.
It's a little bit blurry on the screen here but if it's
a scanned PDF that students can access an OCR PDF.
They can access a mobile-friendly HTML format,
an ePub format where they can annotate
and highlight and adjust the fonts
if they're a student with dyslexia struggling with font.
Generate electronic Braille format and
audio format for students to learn on the go,
even machine translated formats.
So making these available to the student directly,
it will take a couple of minutes to process,
to generate the alternative format,
the first-time will cache that to
the next unit that comes along
will get an immediate download.
If we go to the next slide, Gabriela.
We can see again,
how we can leverage
those different formats to really scaffold
the engagement and create
better more effective study habits.
So it's not about I'm an auditory learner,
I'm going to download MP3s and
listen to my content all the time,
rather it's being a critical, conscious decision-maker.
Maybe students starts off
by skimming a tagged PDF on their desktop
getting a high level understanding of the content.
Where do I need to focus my attention,
where are the most important parts of this document.
Then downloading the ePub,
pulling it up on their tablet, adjusting the contrast.
Let's say they've been studying all day,
they're having eye strain,
they want to go to a nice
black background with white font,
alleviate that eye strain.
Now, we're highlighting, annotating
really engaging deep reading comprehension strategies.
Then moving to the MP3,
listening to the content,
engaging in different sensory modality.
So you really scaffolded the process here of
learning in a really important way.
Of course then, video comes into play,
you're reading and listening to
your captioned video as augmenting
that experience and so really creating
a holistic form of cognition for students.
If we go to the next slide, Gabriela.
We can see the benefits to
students like this student here.
She's a mother, she's commuting
a long distance to campus every day,
she's at Chico State University in California.
For her, downloading the MP3,
listening to that content
back and forth on her drive to school,
it's giving her an extra hour,
hour and a half every day to review
her contents so that when she gets home,
she can focus on her child and not have
to worry about falling behind in her schoolwork.
She tells us you gave me part of my life back and
it's so encouraging to hear this because again,
this is not somebody that has
a disability or somebody who has a life circumstance.
Somebody who can benefit for having
some options in how they engage with their content.
You can imagine that student
riding the train back and forth.
Noisy train rides, it's going to be
hard to hear that lecture video.
Having the captions available is
so important for this student
who wants to engage that content on the go
in the midst of their busy lives.
We want to go to the next slide here.
You can see a little bit of the impact.
So since we started tracking alternative formats
usage around March of 2018,
over two million downloads of these alternative formats.
So over two million times students making
an independent autonomous choice
in how they engage their learning materials.
So it's really encouraging to see this happening,
to see students really
taking advantage of this opportunity.
If we go to the next slide, Gabriela.
As we mentioned, when Scott was
talking about Machine Learning Artificial Intelligence,
it only takes us so far.
There's still a lot of work in accessibility
that requires human intervention,
that requires the expertise of a subject matter expert.
Adding descriptions to images,
adding a heading structure,
these really can't be automated.
So Ally really tries to provide
that feedback to instructors through
these little gauges, a constant reminder,
built-in tutorials, so that they
can make some of these simple fixes
and have a big impact on the usability of their content
as well as the quality of those alternative formats.
So it's a nice example of how artificial intelligence
and people are working together
to tackle these issues to create the conditions
for a more inclusive learning experience.
We go to the next slide.
Just a little sense of the impact so far.
So over 400,000 files that
have been fixed by instructors through that feedback,
37 percent of the time that
an instructor clicks on
the little indicator next to a file,
they actually proceed to try to make a fix,
and 83 percent of the time that
fix results in improved score.
So it's really encouraging to see
instructors making this part of their process,
making accessibility a priority,
and having some success seeing that they can improve
their scores and they can start
to take those steps to be more inclusive.
Four hundred thousand files that are
more accessible today than they were yesterday.
So really encouraging to see that.
Those instructors are still going to need some help,
they're still going to need some support,
so I mentioned that institutional report.
We live in a data-age today.
Having access to analytics for
strategic decision-making is so
important for driving scalable impact.
Again, if you're dealing with video archives,
you're dealing with thousands of PDFs
in learning management system,
you need robust analytics,
robust feedback to tackle those issues.
If we just go to the next slide,
I have a couple of screenshots of
our institutional reporting being
able to drill down at the issue level,
at the course level,
monitor your progress over time,
see that breakdown of the types of content that you
have in a system being able to see how many videos,
how many PowerPoint, how many PDFs really
put the resources in place to
help those time pressed faculty.
There's some accessibility issues
that are more challenging than others.
Having that strategic approach really
bringing everyone around in a campus together.
Scott, I know this is something that you
have seen a lot in your work where
accessibility inclusion really brings
so many elements of a campus together.
Exactly. Time and time again,
we sit down and what initially was
identified as silos start coming
together and they start
saying that there's a common goal,
a common universal inclusiveness
that everybody wants to see achieved.
They just didn't realize that that
was a goal throughout the campus.
By bringing these people together,
the various departments together,
they're able to make such a larger impact for
that student rather than it being
just individual silos or individual faculty members.
If we go to the next slide,
just to give a sense of how we're operating at scale.
Ally has now checked
over 620 million content items for accessibility.
So when we talk about machine learning,
when we talk about scale,
when you're analyzing content at this level, this size,
it's really improving how those algorithms work.
I think in the context that caption certainly
when you're focusing on an education market,
you're improving how those machine-learning algorithms
are evolving, improving their accuracy.
So these things are only going to get
better and as humans play that role in it,
we really see that ecosystem
I think coming together to really create
that more inclusive learning experience for all students.
It's really interesting.
We've been talking a lot about technology and about data.
Now Gabriela, you can go ahead and go to the next one.
Great. Thank you.
We we've talked a lot about how all of that is coming
together to give us insight to be able to
help the engagement for students with the content,
with the student experience
and institutions, it's interesting.
I go back to a famous quote by
Henry Ford the inventor of automobiles that says,
"If I had asked people what they wanted,
they would have said faster horses."
But the truth of the matter
really is that he identified a need,
not just of a few people,
but how do a solution could actually meet
the needs of many throughout the world.
So through design thinking,
and much of what we've been talking about
so far in this webinar roots back into
design thinking methodology of understanding
any evolving day-to-day approach
of our students in education.
We're able to enhance
the educational experience with technology.
Technology like I said,
will never replace the subject matter expert,
But with technology such as artificial intelligence,
automatic speech recognition,
and all the features that John just shared with us,
the goals of enhancing
student engagement with our content proactively,
rather than reactively can be achieved.
Personalized learning as John mentioned can be realized.
There are many items
that are still in the developmental stages
that are focused on proactively
creating open access for all students.
As I mentioned John has been
traveling the world meeting with students,
faculty, and institutional administrators.
John, what are some of the areas that you see that
can give us a glimpse into
what might be the next up-and-coming?
Well, definitely virtual reality is such a hot topic,
it's a hot technology.
Everybody wants to see
what are the pedagogical implications in use cases for VR,
and I think that it's slowly evolving.
I think sometimes it's the shiny new toy
as opposed to something
that's really driving learning benefits.
But it's also going to create
an interesting new challenges around accessibility.
Currently, people that had any kind of
vision issues are going to
struggle inside of that environment.
I'm not just talking about blindness,
I'm talking about the myopia things like that,
being able to be in that environment
and it can be really taxing on the eyes,
and so it's a really interesting
opportunity for exploring.
Thinking about augmented reality.
I mean we're seeing it more and more and
supporting people who have disabilities.
I just saw a blind engineer
invented a walking cane that
has the Google Maps built into it.
So mapping the environment,
making our physical environment
more responsive, more intelligent.
It really is the wave of the future.
I think this moment in time where inclusive design,
universal design is such a part of the design vernacular
that hopefully will start to build these technologies
with that idea of inclusion from the start,
and those experiences and those tools
are going to be really beneficial.
I think the potential impact is enormous.
I think that it's really about bringing
together not just the technologists,
but the pedagogy people, the design folks,
the people who are thinking about inclusive education,
bringing them all around the table
and having them design these solutions
to really impact our education experience,
because we know when we open up
opportunities for diverse people to participate
and innovate and contribute,
it drives new kinds of innovation,
it expands how well products are made,
and how well products perform in the market.
So now that that's becoming a value,
I think it's going to really
improve hopefully the world all around it.
I think we can look at it through
some rose-colored lenses there.
I think there's some technology
or some approaches out there
that still need further definition
within the academic environment.
For example, audio description.
It's very easy to take a movie
and to audio describe the important parts
that are taking place within a movie.
But now to take audio description and
apply it to an academic setting,
that's a very different approach.
It really requires the contents specialists,
the subject matter expert
to identify the pedagogical purpose
of using that video segment or being able to describe
what's important in that video segment
related to the content of that course.
So I think areas like that still need
further research and definition
for the educational environment.
I look forward to seeing how this continues to evolve
in the next couple of years.
John, thank you so much.
What we'd love to do right now
is really take a transition
into a time of questions and answers.
I know that there's been a lot of
you that have been participating.
So I would like to first of all ask Gabriela
if there's been any questions
that have come in through the question panel,
and for those of you that are have questions,
please feel free to start putting them in there now,
if you haven't already,
and we'll take a look at some of those questions.
Yeah, I haven't seen questions yet.
So we're waiting for you all, keep them coming.
So I guess we'll wait a few moments to give you
guys some time to think questions.
That's right. Well, I must mean that John
was so thorough in all of his information
that all the questions were answered.
I am sure there are a lot of practitioners on this call
and are going to be watching the recording
that have a lot of experience in this area,
that have looked at how
to create a more inclusive learning environment,
a more inclusive academic environment.
So even if you don't have questions,
if you just have comments that you'd like to add,
that would enhance what was already said in this session,
please feel free to do that so that you can also add to
the experiences that you've
had that would benefit everybody.
We also we got some questions coming in.
So one of them is you
mentioned that translation was coming to Ally.
What languages will be available to translate?
Yes, so currently with our machine translation.
We use a third party engine that does the translations
and will translate it into 50 different languages.
I can follow up with the full list,
or you can actually find that too
on Blackboard Ally help site.
But it's a list of 50 languages.
There are some non Latin based characters in there.
So some East Asian languages and things like that.
It is one of our top providers
that does translation work.
Again, like we've talked about
machine translation depending on
the nature of the content,
the nature of language,
there can be some accuracy issues,
but what we see as
a great use case is second-language
learners being able to
work side-by-side with the content in
the language of the institution in their native language,
just as a guide, as a way to go
back and forth when they're struggling with
a particular word or vocabulary,
having it as a reference point.
Thank you John. Another question
is in an educational setting,
where should a college start in creating
an inclusive educational environment
for nontraditional students?
Excellent. I'll take that.
Really, you start with your strategic goals.
How is the institution viewing this,
and being able to strategically look
at building in those plans
into your institutional strategic goals?
It has to start by looking at a holistic picture.
We can do little packets.
We can do initiatives in various departments.
But if you really want to create
an inclusive environment for all of your students,
then starting with your strategic institutional goals
is where you should start.
Then from there, take a look
at some great needs that you have.
Various institutions are heavy.
Some institutions are very heavy on lecture capture,
some institutions are very heavy on
using video type content.
So really taking a look at your institution,
the culture within your institution,
and drawing that change management plan
and out accordingly.
Great. Thank you. Another question.
Would you say that the current state of accessibility
is as much of a question of intuitive design?
John, would you like to address that?
Yeah. I mean, I definitely think when we're talking about
this relationship between accessibility and usability,
intuitive design plays a role in that,
making sure that a user experience is readable.
That there are different ways to interact with that UI,
having audio options as well as click-through options.
So I do think that when we design for everybody,
when we design for the margins
we are making that experience more intuitive,
more accessible for everyone.
So I do think that there's
definitely a relationship there,
and it's something that we'll continue to move towards.
But certainly we also have to consider
some of the complexities that come with intuitive design.
When we stir up things down too simply,
are we still making sure that it works for everybody.
So it's definitely a delicate balancing act
as most design work is.
Great. What type of assist tech seems to
be most effective in working with
students on the autism spectrum?
The autism spectrum is called the spectrum
because it's so varied and so it's
hard to say that there's a specific kind of intervention
that works across that entire spectrum,
it's really about assessing
the unique needs of that student,
where they live on the spectrum,
what particular kinds of
challenges that they may experience.
Certainly for some students being able
to hear something and read it at the same time,
it's going to be effective for them but,
it can also be more distracting for other experiences.
So when we think about the autism spectrum,
it really is about having good diagnosis,
and I think that's even in the case like
this student Andrew that I pointed out,
it's really about working with
professionals to understand those unique needs,
what are the best kinds of interventions for
those students and then putting those in place.
Then providing environments that are
flexible enough and adaptive enough to meet those needs,
I think that's the key that we're thinking about
experiences that can meet
the needs even as they're changing,
students evolve, students grow,
their learning needs grow,
that ability to be responsive and adaptive,
it's just so important.
It's funny, I remember the day when we used to have
traditional and non-traditional students,
and we classified non-traditional students as those
that worked while they were in
school or had families while they were in school,
and the traditional students were
those students that were in the dormitory as well,
as we all know that are in education,
those lines have very much blurred.
The students have evolved,
many students are working now
days even if they're living in the dormitories.
So the terminology of traditional
and non-traditional is pretty much gone to the wayside,
and have we stayed up in
current with how students are learning?
How students are engaging?
How students are experiencing that academic life cycle,
and making sure that we're providing that technology that
enables them to engage
with everything else that's going on in their life.
Great. This is a bit longer question.
Our department is in a very reactive position
and we depend on instructors to
submit materials to us for captioning,
something they usually don't do
until they find out they have
a deaf or hard of hearing student in an upcoming class.
We try to encourage them
to submit materials preemptively,
but we're not sure how to get the word out and overcome
the reluctance of some instructors to do so.
What in your experience can improve buy-in from
faculty when it comes to accessibility services?
That is a great question and we see that quite often.
One of the first steps that I usually
recommend for institutions is,
at the beginning of the semester to find out
what students that need that kind of an accommodation,
and then proactively go to
those faculty members and
collect that content that's going to be
used throughout the semester and create
those captionings prior to
the student making that request.
That's one small step of
moving it a little bit more proactive
rather than waiting for the student to request it
or for the faculty member to submit it.
The best result is always going to be putting in place
a plan that's going to have
all the video content and all of your courses captioned.
But. As a next step,
we all have to eat the elephant one bite at a time,
being able to identify that student and then collect
that content prior to the beginning of the semester,
would really help to be a little more
proactive and also save you a lot
of last minute scurry
around trying to get everything met.
Does Ally work with the entire LMS
such as discussion boards?
So Ally at first,
it's only going to check
the instructor uploaded content in materials,
so anything that students are
doing in the discussion forums,
Ally is currently not going to check.
It's actually something that comes up quite a
bit as institutions really want to
get aggressive about inclusion
and as learning experiences,
become more peer to peer oriented,
we do want students to create and share
accessible content that's going to
work for all of their peers.
It creates in complexities
and some scale challenges for us.
Instructor content is a small slice
compared to all of
the student content that we would check.
But in those other areas of blackboard,
when an instructor is building out the discussion of
the post part like how
they're organizing the questions or things like that,
Ally is checking that WYSIWYG content
for accessibility and I just mentioned it in one
of the chats here in response to
high priority road map item for 2019 for
Ally to provide feedback
about the WYSIWYG content to instructors,
currently that WYSIWYG content
is scored in the institutional report.
We're going to be working on providing
real-time feedback as they're editing the HTML,
creating that WYSIWYG content feedback about
the accessibility of how they're doing there.
Great, thank you. Does anyone
else have any more questions?
Feel free to write it in the chat box,
the question and answer box,
we could definitely get to them.
We'll give you a moment to do that if
there are any last questions.
I do see one. Does Ally
have limitation regarding the types of
materials that cannot be converted
into different accessible media formats?
So there is, so currently a PDF Power-point,
Word document, HTML files,
or what we can convert
into the different alternative formats.
We're not doing anything right now like
converting audio into a transcription file,
that's something that's more on
the Verbit side of the house,
and providers that are doing
that auto speech recognition work.
There are some limitations with like I works files,
so key notes and pages,
documents use a proprietary datas
that's difficult to process,
and so there are some limitations there,
but we continue to try to prioritize and
expand what content we can
convert to alternative formats.
We got one more question.
It appears the best accessibility would support
a lock-down model for online courses,
do you guys agree on that?
There's a happy balance there,
when you lock it down too much and then
you have instructors that say,
"Where's their academic freedom?"
There's a balance there.
We want this student experience best practices say that,
we want students to have
a consistent experience throughout all of
their courses so that they don't have a course like
John described earlier with
that beautiful pink background,
and font, and butterflies, and flowers,
and things that just
really aren't relevant to the contact.
But yet, how much do you lock down?
How much of that do you
use for that user experience and accessibility?
So those are difficult questions
and a lot of times those are questions
that really depend on the culture of
your institution and the type
of institution that you are.
But all that said,
the more of the navigational types
of areas that you can lock down,
that you can provide a consistent experience,
the better experience that's
going to be for your students.
John, do you have anything you wanted to add to that?
Yes, I think that makes sense to me.
Lock-down to me it just sad,
the idea of shutting things off when we're thinking
about accessibility and opening up access, and so,
I do think that
there's a collaborative work there to be done,
as we instructional designers
play more of a role in collaborating with
instructors to design courses that
are both pedagogically rich and also well-designed.
I think that's going to be an
important model moving forward,
So it also speaks of
this idea that inaccessible piece of content has to be
a boring content and that's
a stigma that I think that we want to move
beyond and instead thinking about it as
good design practices that you can use rich colors,
you can check using a tool like color.reviews,
simple way to just check whether or not
that contrast meets those width x standards.
So yeah, I think it's
important to fight against the stigma that we
have to be restrictive or not creative and
instead just use that as parameters for
guiding the kinds of practices
that we engage in our teaching.
Very well put.
Good. Thank you guys for answering the questions
and thank you to the attendees for your questions.
We really appreciate you joining
our webinar and I hope you enjoyed it.
After this, we'll be sending you a link with
the transcribed version of the webinar,
so feel free to look over that,
share it with whomever you would
like and definitely keep an eye out for
details on our 7th webinar we would love
for you all to join us as well.
Thank you again and hope you all have
an amazing day following this, bye.