Monday, March 6, 2017

CSUN 17 Acessibility Coding Sprint for People with Disabilities (Making learning accessible) - Part 1

Last week, my colleagues at OpenStax, Phil Schatz, Ross Reedstrom and I attended the 2nd annual pre-CSUN (but third overall) accessibility coding sprint to help make learning materials useable by people with disabilities.

Prior accessibility coding sprints

The first took place in 2013 and was jointly sponsored by my Shuttleworth Foundation fellowship and Benetech and held at the offices of SRI. You can read more about that one in these earlier posts (2013-accessibility-post-1, post-2, post-3, post-4, and post-5). The second took place last year before the CSUN 2016 Accessibility Technology Conference in sunny San Diego and was again sponsored by funds from my Shuttleworth Foundation fellowship and by Benetech. That one focused specifically on tools for creating accessible math. Read more in Benetech's blog post under "Sprinting towards accessible math", Murray Sargent's follow up post on accessible trees and Jamie Teh's post about creating an open-source proof-of-concept extension of math speech rules used by the NVDA browser to make them sound more natural.

This year's sprint
Four tables with 10 participants conferring and working at laptops
Participants at work

This one again took place in not-quite-as-sunny San Diego (California has been getting lots of rain) before this year's CSUN-17 conference. The focus was on making interactive learning content accessible. And the very cool thing from my perspective is that my fellowship had nothing to do with the organization of this one. Benetech and MacMillan Learning sponsored and organized this one. The attendance was the largest ever with 30-ish in person participant and 5 or so attending remotely. We had several developers that both create accessible software and use assistive technology themselves.

Like previous sprints, we spent time initially getting to know each other and brainstorming and then divided into multiple teams ranging from a single person to five people working together to prototype, explore, or make progress on a particular accessibility feature. In upcoming posts, I will highlight each of the team's goals and what they demonstrated at the end of the day.

Upcoming posts (links will be added as subsequent posts appear)

  • Creating responsive (mobile-friendly) and accessible (screen-reader friendly) Infobox for maps
  • Giving non-visual feedback for learning from interacting with PhET simulations
  • Using alternatives to drag and drop for matching, ordering, and categorization tasks
  • Personalizing website interfaces for better accessibility (both sensory and cognitive)
  • Standardizing the display of math in publications
  • A Nemeth and UEB Braille symbols table
  • Using MathJax to produce Braille output from LaTeX math

Read more

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