Information Technology Systems and Services.
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Preparing for Spring Semester

Depending upon what you would like to do with your class (e.g., try Moodle), now may be the time to start preparing for spring.

Posted on Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 | Permalink Online Training Now Available online training is now available at no cost to University of Minnesota students, faculty, and staff systemwide on all campuses. is a library of online training videos that provides access to more than 1,700 courses for all skill levels in more than 140 specialties including:

University users will log in using their University Internet ID and password in order to access training videos available on's vast library is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and contains thousands of professional-grade Windows and Mac video tutorials, on a vast array of topics from design principles, to web content management systems, to software for printing and much more. utilizes expert instructors that are experts in their fields, and whose mission is to impart knowledge regarding correct workflow and to teach users how to develop skills required to solve problems. The partnership between the University and the experts at allows us to provide a level of professional development and expertise the University alone could not otherwise provide.

Organized by subject software and instructor,'s content is constantly growing, and is updated weekly and sometimes daily. University users can attend the training they want and need, when and where they want it, with the assurance that the information they receive is the newest and most up-to-date available.

There's even a free iPhone/iPad app to enable users to learn on-the-go is available. As displayed in the screen capture below, simply click on the option for Web Portal Access and type You will be directed to log in with your University credentials.

For further information consult the Office of Information Technology (OIT) training website.

Posted on Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 | Permalink

Chrome Extension May Help Improve Google Docs Accessibility

A new Read&Write extension for Google's Chrome browser may be useful to some people with print disabilities, especially those with learning disabilities (cognitive) disorders. It may also be a tool for people who need a little extra help with their writing. This article documents its features, limitations, where to download it, and how to use it.

Extension Features

The Read&Write extension provides some of the basic features of desktop Read&Write software created by TextHelp. It allows a user to have anything typed in a Google document read to them. Sometimes everyone can benefit from hearing what a piece of writing sounds like when read aloud. Features that are available include:

  • Text-to-Speech Reading Aloud
  • Color Highlighting
  • Talking Dictionary
  • Picture Dictionary
  • Capture Highlights
  • Vocabulary Tool
  • Study Skills Tools to Capture Google Highlights

The following video by Texthelp explains its features. A transcript of Texthelp's video is available.

Extension Limitations

The extension is only functional within Google Docs while using a Chrome browser. The ongoing battle in the accessibility community is Chrome-only solutions vs. other assistive technologies. Google's ecosystem is designing functionality for Chrome. It will not function with mainstream assistive technology (AT) used by the larger screen reader community i.e., JAWS, WindowEyes, or NVDA in combination with Internet Explorer and Firefox. In preliminary testing this extension has not been found to be keyboard accessible. Users with disabilities may be unable to use a mouse or other pointing device and require keyboard shortcuts. It does not remove all Google Apps accessibility barriers.

Where to Get It

Icon: Google Web StoreYou can download the Read&Write extension from the Chrome Web store.

How to Use It

In the following video Karen Janowski demonstrates how to set up and use the Read&Write Chrome extension. A transcript of Karen's demo is available.

Further Information

Posted on Saturday, Mar 2, 2013 | Permalink

Accessibility eClasses

This semester ITSS will be offering three Web Accessibility eClasses: Introduction, Structure, and Images.

Web Accessibility: Introduction

This eClass will answer questions such as:

  • "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?"

In addition the introduction class features the popular "disable your browser" exercise. Introduction eClass will occur between October 29 and November 2, 2012.

Web Accessibility: Structure

In this eClass you will learn how using structured markup and headings makes a document more accessible and inclusive. You will also gain awareness of ARIA landmark roles and HTML5 semantic markup. The Accessibility: Structure eClass will occur between November 5 and November 16, 2012.

Web Accessibility: Images

By examining the most basic of techniques - making images accessible - you will explore methods that enable inclusiveness. In this eClass we discuss the what, when, why, and how of both short and long textual alternatives. Accessibility: Images eClass will occur between November 26 and December 7, 2012.

Further information

Our eClasses utilize Moodle and have no set meeting time, although courses do have definite start and end dates. eClasses typically run two weeks. This allows participants to attend class at a time most convenient to them, yet it still provides logically organized communication between class participants. It is a convenient way to expand your knowledge and skills.

To register and more information please consult:

Posted on Thursday, Sep 27, 2012 | Permalink