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January 2013 Archives

Web Accessibility Overview

What does "Web Accessibility" really mean? What all does that term encompass? Why is it that some people are unable to use certain web sites - and whose job is it to provide access? How can you learn more about this topic?

What is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility means that web information/content is obtainable and functional to people with disabilities. As a sub-group of universality, it refers to providing access for those who would otherwise lose their opportunity to use the web. A correctly designed web site or application is inclusive providing multi-modal access. For instance it communicates effectively aurally as well as visually. The strengths of the web, which makes it unique as a medium of communication, is that it isn't limited to a single output. That is the beauty.

The Why and Who of Web Accessibility

Numerous reasons exist for making the web accessible. An underlying concept in the following video "Personal Look at Accessibility in Higher Education", which highlights the personal stories of several students and faculty members and their experience with the lack of access to digital content, is that:

Inaccessible Web content affects student experiences and learning, faculty and staff productivity, and overall timeliness and efficiency. Institutions of higher education have an obligation to provide accessible web content...

In particular, Cherissa Alldredge a doctoral student with visual/memory impairment explains how an accessible website enables the path to academic success:

I can be equally as successful as any of my colleagues without disabilities. The fact that I need an accessible website or other accessibility tools doesn't diminish the value of my education or my potential. It just means that my success has to occur in a different way. And so I would encourage those watching this video not to assume that I can't. But to assume that I can.

A Transcript of the Video: "A Personal Look at Accessibility in Higher Education" is available. The video was produced by the GOALS project of the National Center on Disability and Access to Education.

Learn More in Our Next eClass

To learn more join us for the ITSS Introduction to Web Accessibility eClass, which will be offered February 11 to 22, 2013.

Further Information

Posted on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 | Permalink

Ten Years Ago in ITSS: Seventh UMD Tech Camp

In 2003 twenty faculty members attended the seventh UMD Tech Camp. It extended over two weeks during January break. In addition to instruction time, campers also concentrated on projects. Most campers got a good start on class web sites and technology-enhanced lectures.

Today Tech Camp continues to provide faculty participants with the experience to comfortably bring technology to bear on academic courses they teach.

Posted on Monday, Jan 28, 2013 | Permalink

AD SCCM: Updates for Flash, Firefox, Thunderbird, Oracle

The following updates will be deployed to UMD AD/SCCM client computers beginning today:

  • Adobe Flash Player 11.5.502.146 Active-X (IE)
  • Adobe Flash Player 11.5.502.146 Plugin (Firefox)
  • Mozilla Firefox 10.0.12 ESR
  • Mozilla Thunderbird 10.0.12 ESR
In addition to deploying updates to machines with prior versions of the software, these installers are also available through Run Advertised programs to install manually on computers that may not already have the software installed.
  • Oracle Java 6 update 38
This update is only available as an optional installer. Users should install at their earliest convenience as long as they don't have conflicts with software that requires an older version of Java. Before installing, close all browsers and any other Java software.

Posted on Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013 | Permalink

Social Engineering

SANS - a cooperative research and education organization - provides a variety of information security training and resources . The "SANS Securing The Human" site posts a new security awareness video each month to help people change behavior so they can leverage technology more safely and effectively. This month's video, "Social Engineering," explains what social engineering is, gives several common examples, and offers simple steps to protect yourself against it. See: Monthly Awareness Video.

Posted on Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 | Permalink 1 Comment

Touch Accessibility for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Due to advances in screen reader technology, voice controls, gesture functionality, and add-on applications some touch devices offer an inclusive experience for the blind and visually impaired.

One such example is the iPhone. Its VoiceOver screen reader adds reading functionality in combination with accessible gesture commands. To identify an on-screen item a user simply taps once and VoiceOver will announce it. A subsequent double tap will activate that item. Typing can be complicated so some people use Siri, a voice-command feature. The iPhone has a number of third-party applications designed for people with disabilities, such as a money reader which identifies currency with the iPhone's camera and speaks the denomination. It can also be connected to a refreshable Braille display making it potentially usable to someone who is deaf/blind and in need of a communication aid.

How One Blind Person Uses an iPhone

In the following video Tommy Edison, blind since birth, demonstrates how he uses an iPhone 4S to check Twitter, YouTube, and send messages. A transcript of the Video: "How Blind People Use The iPhone 4S" is available.

Further Information

Posted on Wednesday, Jan 2, 2013 | Permalink