Thank you for joining Episode 2 of our webinar series,

The Accessible Classroom Redefined

Where each month, we feature a different product,

service, or organization that is making strides towards promoting

accessibility, and making a change in the lives of those with disabilities.

This episode is called.

Shaping the Student Experience with Assistive Technology.

We are so excited to feature Knowbility.

They are an industry leader for accessibility, training, and

education. Verbit's relationship with Knowbility began at the AccessU

Conference we attended in Austin, that Knowbility hosts. We were so

inspired by what they have accomplished over the years, and were

honored when they agreed to be featured in this month's webinar. So we

thought it would be best to speak with the founder of Knowbility,

Sharron Rush, and their communication specialist, Anthony. That way we

can promote technologies, answer why making our digital environments

and content accessible is so important, and most importantly, how to

do so. So let's look at the agenda, which will provide an overview of

our next hour together. The specific topics that we're going to be

discussing are challenges faced by students with disabilities,

technologies that are revolutionizing accessibility in education,

implementing these technologies on campus, and how these technologies

are shaping the students experience, and finally how to implement the

W3C guidelines at your institution. Then, of course, we'll have time

at the end for any questions and answers that you might have. As a

question arises, please feel free to also add them into that window.

So let's get started with some [inaudible 00:18:56] . Sharron, would

you please share the background and involvement in this field? Yeah.

Thank you, Scott. I just wanted to say how happy we were that you were

able to attend AccessU in May and it was great the contributions that

Verbit made to that gathering. I've been in the accessibility field

for 20 years now. Knowbility was founded in 1999. We are a non-profit

organization based in Austin, Texas with the global mission of

improving access to technology for people with disabilities. We do

that through awareness activities and accessible web design contests,

educational efforts like AccessU, and, of course, the services that we

offer to organizations to help them figure out the path forward to

accessibility. Glad to be here. I'm so sorry I was late. I think I

couldn't make the connection work and I really apologize for that. No

worries. Thank you, Sharron. Now you can see why we are honored to

have Knowbility joining us. Anthony, would you also please share the

highlights of your background and involvement? Yeah. Hi. My name is

Anthony Vasquez. I'm a communications specialists with Knowbility. I

work on their social media, our newsletter. Basically, anything that

comes on our website that's editorial content, I [inaudible 00:20:27]

that. I've been with Knowbility for about 4.5 years. I am blind. I use

a screen reader, so I've got decades of lived experience with AT. This

is the technology, and I look forward to sharing my insights with you

all today. Excellent. Thank you, Anthony. Again, my name is Scott

Ready, and I've been in the field of education accessibility for over

30 years now in private practice, education, both K12 and higher-ed,

state organizations, corporations, and on federal projects. You'll

hear more about my background here in just a moment. So to kick us

off, Sharron, would you share with us the challenges that students who

have a disability face in education? Well, I'm glad that you mentioned

both K12 and higher-ed, Scott, because I think the challenges there

are very related. They're slightly demonstrated a little differently.

But basically, the challenges come down to, first of all, access to

the right assistive technology. I think we've all recognized that

technology can be just a tremendous leveler of the playing field for

students with disabilities, creating really unparalleled

opportunities. But it requires a system in place, and assistive

technology is the foundation of that. Then, if a student has the right

assistive technology, there's also another aspect, which is the

materials that they offer in the classroom and the digital classroom,

the curriculum materials, the online content and courses. All of those

materials also need to be designed to be compatible and accessible to

the assistive technologies that students use. I think in order for

those things to work well and to live up to the potential that they

have for transforming the student experience, we need to have an

institutional understanding and a will for inclusion that we're going

to explore a little bit more deeply as we go forward today. Sharron

informed us about some of the challenges that student

00:22:48]> . Now, let's take a look at some of the technologies. We have

four listed here that we would like to explore further. Remote Visual

Interpreting, Voice Assistants, Note Taking, and then the fourth one

is Transcription and Captioning. So Anthony, would you share with us

about the first two: the remote visual interpreting and the voice

assistance. Voice assistants, right. It's basically, you're

face-timing a friend. The service I will highlight right now is called

Aira, short for Artificial Intelligence and Remote Assistance, and

blind people are connected to the mobile app, either on their phone or

a phone that Aira provides for you. With this device, you connect to

the cellular connection or Wi-Fi. The trained agents have access to

your GPS location. They can see where you are in their Google Maps,

[inaudible 00:23:58] , Google Earth, all these different kind of

technologies all in one. The advantage, again, really is that you get

to have real-time information about what's going on in the world

around you. For students that can be something that's a last minute

handout information that might not be able to be converted into an

accessible format right away. They have access to it. Now remote voice

assistants; we have different knowledge. It's not like Siri and Google

Assistant and your phone. With those, really you can do lots of quick

effect look-up. Whereas before you might depend on, for example, a

talking dictionary that costs $500, for example. That is still a

useful piece of AT. But now with the smart phone at hand, you quickly

use your assistance, had to quote definition, look at the spellings of

words, things that before would take a lot more work. What else can we

remember? Scott, do you want to take over the other technologies? Yes.

Well, yeah, I bet there's a number of you that were unaware of remote

visual interpreting until today. Now, let's talk about a service that

most everyone is aware of and that is note-taking. As I'm sure most of

you know for individuals who have a cognitive processing challenge or

an individual who uses a sign language interpreter, it is difficult,

if not impossible, to take notes. The challenge lies with the way

notes have been provided. Oftentimes, there is another student in the

class who uses NCR paper, that's the no carbon required paper, takes

notes, and then tears off the copy and hands it to the other student.

But let's think about the challenges of this approach. What if the

student who takes the notes is out sick at the last minute? I'm sure

that there's no two people here today that would take notes in the

exact same way. So that leaves the recipient of the notes dependent

upon the perspective of the note-taker. But what if we relied on

technology, such as automatic speech recognition and artificial

intelligence, to capture what is being said by the instructor and feed

the notes live to the student's computer with the ability to add

additional notations, such as highlighting, adding additional notes,

or expounding upon the content with links to reference material, such

as previous lectures. Could you imagine your notes today referencing

back to a concept that was presented several weeks ago as a reminder?

Wouldn't this benefit all students rather than just to the individuals

who have a challenge? I would say that would be using technology for

more than an accommodation, but to really revolutionize the classroom.

So let's take a look back for a moment, and I'm going to share a

little bit of a personal story here. I'm old enough that I was around

prior to captioning being publicly available. I remember my parents,

who were deaf and instructors at the Missouri School for the Deaf,

getting together once a month with their friends to watch a reel to

reel movie. Yes, I said reel to reel, and that had been captioned

through the Captioned Films for the Deaf. These weren't the

blockbuster latest releases, but rather classics or educational films.

But for the first time, my parents were able to follow along with the

complete story line rather than trying to guess and make up what was

taking place in the movie. But at home when the news was on, I was a

link to what was being said by sitting on a small footstool next to

the TV and interpreting the newscast. It wasn't until I was 10 years

old that ABC started captioning the news, which enabled me to move

aside the footstool and allow technology to provide the link between

my parents and the world. So that's been 50 years ago and still today,

the National Association of the Deaf is still having to fight for an

equitable experience. Yeah, my car's cruise control and steering is

able to adjust automatically to the environment that I'm driving in.

But we're still having to fight for an equitable experience for all

individuals. Think about that. Along with using the same type of

technology that I mentioned with note-taking, the automatic speech

recognition, and artificial intelligence, but in a hybrid approach

with human type editors, were able to then provide remote live

captioning in a classroom or any public event. Nationwide, the

availability of stenographers is at an all-time low, and as we all are

aware, everyone benefits from captioning. Captioning is no longer

recognized as a feature only for the deaf and hard of hearing. Now,

many of you prefer to have the captioning on when you're watching a

movie. Say, maybe it's late at night and you don't want to disturb

anyone else in the house, or what about when you're in a restaurant or

an airport. Another situation might be individuals scrolling through

social media, and they would prefer for the videos to be captioned

rather than trying to listen to the audio track while commuting on

public transportation. Then, having the capability to search for

terminology that was reference can save significant amounts of time

trying to pinpoint a location in a video, making it much more

user-friendly. Also having a transcript or a digital document of

everything that was captioned on the video enables all users to

quickly reference specific points, may even when using a screen

reader. So now, captioning along with transcripts provides enhanced

access for all students. So Anthony, with your on the ground

experience at CSU Long Beach, would you share how the California State

University system has been a role model for implementing these

technologies and many others within the 23 institutions? Yes. Thank

you, and one of the things I didn't mention in my intro is that along

with my role in Knowbility, I separately teach at Cal State Long

Beach. I teach journalism there, I'm an online [inaudible 00:31:02] .

We do online courses now in our department, and so I teach a couple of

those each semester. So I also graduated from Cal State Long Beach in

2010. So I do have direct experience with both being a student and a

faculty now there. I want to touch on here is the ATI or the

Accessible Technology Initiative of the Cal State system. It's a

program that reflects California State University's ongoing commitment

to provide access to information resources and technologies to

individuals with disabilities. Their vision is to create a culture of

access for an inclusive learning and working environment. Their

mission is to help the CSU campuses in carrying out Executive Order

1111 by developing guidelines, implementation strategies, tools, and

resources. Their principle really is, again, to apply a universal

design and an approach to the design of products and services to be

usable. So you can go beyond just being accessible, right? Something

can be accessible or according to guidelines in national standards,

but it also needs to be usable by the greatest number of people with

disabilities, followed by greater than everybody including people with

disabilities. The strategy is to stimulate collaboration, to effect

changes that will ultimately benefit all. Moving on here, continuing

with the ATI. CSU Long Beach there's another graph, the most

experience. Yeah, it was really developed about 10 years ago or so is

when it first got started. It got lots of traction, again, in the CSU

campus as a whole. I think is if not the largest, one of the largest

university systems in the world, 23 campuses in total. Really, CSU

Long Beach in particular has three areas of focus. When it comes to

instructional materials, on campus there's a center called the

Accessible Instructional Materials Center. Back when I was there, this

was called the high-tech center part of disabled student services just

because they had really some neat gadgets. They had braille printers,

the state of the art scanners to break apart books, scan them very

quickly, get them to students and to faculty quickly in the digital

format. Bob Murphy Access Center, formerly known as Disabled Student

Services. That's where a student with a disability would first start

their journey in a way. I remember actually introducing myself to

staff there before I started as a freshman on campus there. They work

with professors, you draft a contract for any kind of accommodations,

whether you need double time for an exam, or a whole range of ways to

make the learning experience more accessible. Academic Technology

Services was crucial when I first started as a lecturer there. Because

of the nature of the work, the LMS was accessible, but still there was

just a steep learning curve, and learning all the different shortcuts

that are involved, and making a post to your class, reviewing the

gradebook, setting the parameters for a quiz, editing questions, what

have you, in every kind of aspect of the course was accessible, but I

did work closely with ATS, Academic Technology Services, to really

learn the stuff. I've spent quite a few hours with them and they were

great. Again, if this aspect of ATS, if the idea that you may have a

person with a disability teaching on campus and that matches taking

courses but actually teaching, you need training for that, and so

that's one of the aspects of this whole ATI, and, of course, the

bookstore. Making sure that book requisitions are made in a timely

manner, so that when students start to look at the schedule going or

once they've signed up and they know what books they're going to use,

what software they might need to install on their computer. For

faculty, there is document accessibility training in making sure PDFs,

Word files, all formats are posted to the website, not just the LMS

for classes but just the website in general in an accessible format.

There's AT training, online LMS training, disability awareness. Just a

few month ago now, the campus did have a Global Accessibility

Awareness Day event on campus. I was unable to make it. But the fact

is they were in a public place on campus. They were right in front of

the bookstore, and so that again is a way to put the awareness of

accessibility, awareness about people with disabilities who use this

tech, putting it front and center on campus. Another aspect is the

electronic and information technology procurement. I mentioned that

already making sure that tech that's used on campus is accessible, and

includes communications, equipment, and that part of this is to make

sure there is a inefficient review and approval process. Web-based

information and services comes down to making sure that the common

formats, more popular formats: Word, PowerPoint, PDF, posted to LMS,

they must be accessible. Again, there is training for this and again,

the LMS works also in a way to nudge this ideas. So when I post, for

example, with a.JPG file of a flier for the event that our department

might be hosting, automatically there's a pop-up that says, "Hey,

what's your alt texts? Please put alt text here." It explains what alt

text is, and for those who may not know, its text that you put in HTML

attribute, screen readers pick it up, and they can just be a short

summary of what's in the photo. It doesn't have to be a whole story,

just a sentence maybe. Then, of course, making sure that the rest of

the content is accessible. But again, having that little prompt, "Hey,

where's your alt text?" is incredibly helpful and pushes the idea of

accessibility in the mainstream. Excellent. As you can see here,

California State system has done a phenomenal job with the ATI program

and really being able to bring those 23 institutions together, and not

only have each institution developed their own, but be able to share,

have a collaborative type of environment where they're able to share

the materials that have been developed, the ideas, the concepts,

approaches. Oftentimes, it's finding out what works well for another

institution, and being able to share it at other institutions