What is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)?
Featuring contributions from Jill Shacklock and Maggie Symes.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day, taking place on 20th May, is an international event encouraging all people to think, talk, and learn about digital accessibility and inclusion. This is the second week in our ‘Getting Ready for GAAD’ blog post series where we invite staff and students to get involved through small, yet meaningful actions in support of accessibility.
The following events will be taking place:
- Tuesday 11th May 12pm-1pm [Online event] Fireside chat between University of Brighton’s Digital Learning Team and University of Sussex TEL Team. Sign-up to attend at the eventbrite page. This event will be open to staff at University of Brighton and University of Sussex.
- More Blackboard Ally workshops now available on our online workshop page
- On Global Accessibility Awareness Day – 20th May at 3pm [Online event]. Dr Kevin Merry from De Montfort University will be giving a keynote talk Institution-wide approaches to embedding accessibility. Sign-up to attend at the eventbrite page. This event will be open to staff at University of Brighton and University of Sussex.
Take action and take part
There are lots of ways to take part in our celebration of GAAD. Even if you can only dedicate a little bit of time, every action helps, even small ones.
Even small actions are meaningful
Small Tip for this Week: Adding a table to your Word document? Make it accessible, quickly and easily, by following the short video on this page from Microsoft Support.
Prefer text instructions? Here is a document explaining how.
Quick changes to improve accessibility
How much time do you have?
- I have 5 minutes: Learn about heading styles in Word (this will save a lot of time in the long run!)
Watch this video from our own brilliant Jill Shacklock about Heading styles in Word.
- I have 10 minutes: Check your module for scanned PDFs with low accessibility ratings
The library would like to help you add PDFs of articles or book chapters into your reading list in an accessible way. Uploading PDFs of articles/chapters directly into your module is not only an accessibility challenge, it is also a copyright concern, and it uses up a lot of space in your module because PDF files can be very large. Here is guidance about what to do when you find a low accessibility PDF. Use this page to contact your local library for help.
For more tips, visit our S.C.U.L.P.T. Accessibility Guidance page.
Quick changes for your own accessibility needs (staff and students):
- My Studies and Blackboard Ally:
Ally Quick Start for Students and Alternative Formats
Tip: if you are feeling weary or need to multitask consider the audio format. Just changing the format can immediately help to unlock the information.
- Windows and Mac – Using Mozilla Firefox:
- Apple iOS (iPad, iPhone):
Accessibility at the Library
- Students with a Learning Support Plan should be encouraged to get in touch with the library to chat with library staff about how we can support their reading requirements.
- Library Services can refer students to the RNIB bookshare platform– a collection of textbooks and materials in a range of accessible formats which can be read online or adapted to suit personal reading needs.
- When reading ebooks available via the Library catalogue and OneSearch look out for the options to change the settings to suit your own readings needs.These include:
- Font size
- Background colour
- Options for read-aloud – either within the ebook platform or via a browser setting
- Page layout
- Set up your own preferences by editing your profile and setting up your accessibility settings.
- Library Services has a helpful guide to bring all this information together – check out our Ebook accessibility guide
- When using readinglists@Brighton, use the filter by Online Resource option to display items available online eg., Ebooks then adjust the settings to suit your preferences.
Example of the accessibility options in Ebooks at the library:
Why is accessibility important?
Small decisions in a document or presentation can be the difference between including people or excluding people. As educators we want to share our knowledge and there are tools out there to help us do that. The video below is about one of Fiona MacNeill’s favourite bloggers, Veronica. Veronica was part of a Microsoft video campaign in 2017 explaining how she makes use of Sway and the accessibility features in Word, as well as a screen magnifier. Do check out Veronica’s amazing blog, which features amazing resources for students and educators alike.
Pledge to make changes over the next month
If you plan to make more than one change/update this month why not pledge it? It is great to see that folks have been making pledges – these can be little things or larger things and appropriate to your role.
You can sign up to the pledge on this page and see other staff who have pledged on the page.
Essentially you are pledging to complete some good deeds, or rather #GAADDeeds this month! For those on Twitter, please consider sharing your pledge on Twitter, as Fiona did here (I got lots of love for it!). Here is an example of a #GAADDeed; a little thing, but still an important thing!
Attend the workshops and online events
As outlined in our save the dates section at the top of this post. More details for the online events are to follow.
Join the Fix Your Content Day Challenge on 20th May
If you are an academic staff person or a professional staff person who creates resources for My Studies you can take part in our entry to this challenge on 20th May. The challenge is to improve as many documents as you/we can in My Studies on the 20th May. Thankfully, Blackboard Ally is here to help and provides guidance on exactly how to improve materials. Sign-up as an individual or as a team using this form.
Fix Your Content Day Challenge is a global competition with other universities using Blackboard Ally and you can see the leaderboard from last year here.