Course Accessibility

Like many other professors at institutions across the globe, I am retrofitting my course so that it is accessible to students with disabilities. My syllabi and other course materials now have headings. For the PowerPoint slides, I’m ensuring that all fonts are no smaller than 28 point, that I’ve used bold in addition to color to highlight important terminology, and that I’ve used high contrast in text versus background. I’m also adding alt-tags to every illustration. And there are so many illustrations in a science course! It is quite challenging to competently, yet succinctly, describe complex scientific figures, so some of the alt tags are quite lengthy. However, my goal is to complete that task prior to the start of the semester in a few weeks.

Another project won’t be finished in time for the start of the semester, but I’ll have made a good dent in it. Several years ago I developed a hybrid version of my course in which students take the lecture online and attend lab in person. I spent one summer narrating the PowerPoint lectures; now, I’m going back to each of those lectures and adding closed captions. Though I’ve never summed the number of hours the narrated lectures span, the lectures encompass a 16-week semester; so it’s a substantial number. It is taking approximately two hours to add captions to a 15 minute narrated PowerPoint using the Speech to Text capability of the program I originally used to narrate them. The time required is not a flaw in the program; it’s because the language is so scientifically technical. Fortunately, I can add words to the program’s dictionary, so the software is learning. For instance, it now recognizes that I am saying, “endospore,” rather than, “and of course.” But I will always have to add all punctuation and capitals, and italicize new scientific terminology, so it will require a considerable number of hours to complete.

What accessibility modifications have you made to your course?

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