Website and information technology access for students with disabilities still poses challenges for colleges. While accessibility policies and procedures are critical for providing guidance and direction to colleges, tools and resources can aid institutions in identifying and fixing actual accessibility issues.
The California Community Colleges (CCC) Accessibility Center is preparing a number of new resources for the colleges, including access to scanning and evaluation tools, a PDF remediation solution and accessibility evaluation services.
Accessible Media Player
Separate from captioning and audio descriptions, an often overlooked aspect of audio and video media is the accessibility of the media player itself. The Accessibility Center now offers a free license to California community colleges for the Oz Player, an accessible media player created by Accessibility Oz. The Oz Player is an accessible “overlay” to standard HTML5 media controls, allowing for keyboard operability as well as use with assistive technologies. The Accessibility Center website demonstrates an example of the Oz Player using video content streamed from YouTube.
Scanning and Evaluation Tools
A second tool now available to the CCC for scanning and evaluating websites is Tenon. A problem with any automated tool is the potential for false-positive reports in which accessibility issues are indicated when in fact there are none. Tenon’s accessibility rules excel in minimizing false-positive errors and prioritizing the order in which identified issues should be addressed. Tenon also offers a well documented API allowing for customizations and the use of third-party integrations to evaluate website content. CCC members may create a free Tenon account using their college email address.
PDF Remediation Tool
PDF documents continue to be a challenge for colleges in both creating and remediating PDFs into accessible versions. Starting in May, the Accessibility Center will be offering access to the Equidox PDF remediation application at no cost to colleges for converting PDF files into accessible documents. Equidox is a web-based, software-as-a-service solution that allows college staff to upload PDF documents, fix content reading order and address accessibility issues, and export documents as either HTML or accessible PDFs.
Accessibility Assessment Services
A frequent request we hear is for assistance in reviewing and evaluating the accessibility of institutional websites or other web-based applications. This summer, the Accessibility Center will be offering several different accessibility assessment services intended to support colleges in identifying where accessibility errors exist in their online resources. Colleges will have the opportunity to request an accessibility assessment focusing on a specific web-based application in use by the institution or to request an evaluation of the college’s public-facing website content. A third accessibility assessment option will offer an evaluation of the college’s website and include feedback regarding the strategic steps a college should consider in building an institutional approach to web and IT accessibility. More information about the accessibility assessment services will be forthcoming via webinars and through mailing lists.
News & Outreach
With the number of new services and resources becoming available, it can be difficult to keep informed of the opportunities now available from the Accessibility Center. To stay informed about any of the above resources, please consider signing up for the IT Access mailing list or registering for services that interest you.
If you have burning questions or would like to discuss different accessibility resources, please remember you are welcome to participate in our monthly IT Accessibility Office Hours events. Our next IT Accessibility Office Hours will be Thursday, May 9, via CCC Confer Zoom.
Sean Keegan is Director of the California Community Colleges Accessibility Center