EDTECH 502 – Reflection

What challenges did you face in this course?

The greatest challenge was to ensure everything I create was accessible by users with disabilities. Having no formal training in this, I was learning as I went. Building in accessibility is not hard, unless you are brand new. It is almost impossible to anticipate an end user’s experience without having knowledge of HOW someone with a disability would be using a file or web page or application. Thankfully, I know the end user experience from my full-time work. However, the nuances of how to design the HTML was something self-taught, as well as learning HTML.

What strategies or other creative resources did you use to address these challenges?

A specific example of learning how to incorporate accessibility is in identifying accessible color combinations. Thankfully, tools like WebAIM Color Contrast Checker, and Colour Contrast Analyser (Paciello Group) and Color Contrast Analyzer (NCSU) exist to streamline the testing of one foreground color against a background color. I would choose a background and a foreground color that I thought worked well together visually. I avoided greens and reds though, as they are notoriously hard to read for individuals whom are color-blind. Then I would use a tool, specifically the desktop Colour Contrast Analyser by the Paciello Group, to see if it passed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). If I failed, I would change the shade of one of the colors until it passed.

Which artifact do you feel was your best and why?

The Virtual Tour artifact is my best work because it (a) discusses a relevant topic, (b) is the most visually appealing of all my EDTECH 502 artifacts and (c) has been of value in my full-time work. I decided on a color scheme that was inspired by the Seattle Seahawks. Fun colors to wear but the bright green is a little off-putting on a webpage. However, the Virtual Tour page has a purple, gold and white schema, which is more appealing and represents my campus’s colors. It is a compilation of several pages, each with enough information to be helpful to someone new to accessibility but also is not overwhelming. I also considered difference aspects of accessibility in higher education, discussing the definition of disability, the legal responsibilities, accommodations, syllabus statements, documents, and videos. This is a broad attempt to share valuable information in a concise manner.

What is one thing you plan to do in your school or business as a result of this course?

As previously mentioned, I have used the Virtual Tour artifact in my employment. For a time, this was part of the email notification to faculty regarding students with disabilities. The purpose was to give them more context, if they wanted it, in addition to instructions about accessibility of files.

The current challenge many campuses are facing is how to teach faculty about accessibility, especially when they are not required to attend any such training. I share the information contained in the Virtual Tour in many ways, emails, short phone calls, forthcoming videos, departmental presentations, etc. But how to do this systematically and efficiently is the challenge.