Study Materials for Students with Functional Limitations

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1 Study Materials for Students with Functional Limitations Teacher s Manual Leiden University

2 Contents Introduction... 1 For whom is this manual intended?... 1 Content of this manual... 1 Visual functional limitations... 1 Most common visual functional limitations... 1 Font... 2 Choose sans serif fonts... 2 Font Size... 3 Make sure the font size can be scaled up... 3 Alignment... 4 Left alignment... 4 Color... 4 Be careful with color combinations and contrasts... 4 Add Text to Pictures... 6 Most visually impaired people have difficulty seeing pictures... 6 Scanned texts... 7 Scanned texts are unsuitable for screen readers... 7 External Websites... 7 External website? New window!... 7 Menu layout... 8 Take care that layouts and labels are clear... 8 Tags... 9 Hyperlinks... 9 Provide clear descriptions of file types... 9 PowerPoint... 9 Convert PowerPoint presentations to HTML... 9 Word Using word processors correctly Tables Make tables read from left to right Personal websites in Blackboard Provide clear access to any personal website uploaded in Blackboard Further information... 12

3 Introduction For whom is this manual intended? This manual is meant for teachers using Blackboard who have some students with functional limitations in their groups. It aims to offer guidelines for making study materials accessible, and as such ties in with the Dutch Equal Treatment (Disability and Chronic Illness) Act (2003), which stipulates that all information should be accessible to unimpaired persons and the handicapped or chronically ill in equal measure. About 5.3% of Dutch university students have a functional limitation. Most of the services offered by ICT&Education groups are geared towards students with visual limitations. About 2% of the students at Leiden University have visual limitations, ranging from dyslexia to (color) blindness. [Source: User s Questionnaire Studeren met een handicap 2006 ] Content of this manual In this manual you will find practical tips for producing educational materials in Blackboard that will be more easily accessible to students with visual limitations. More often than not the adaptations needed to make (digital) texts more accessible to dyslectics and color blinds are small. For example, think of slightly larger pictures, letters and better color combinations. Visual functional limitations Most common visual functional limitations Visual impairment A visually impaired person is someone who no longer has normal sight, but still has some perception of light. Persons with this kind of visual impairment have limited acuity of sight or a limited field of vision. In less serious cases the visually impaired can still orient themselves and read visually. Blindness When someone no longer perceives any light whatsoever, we are dealing with blindness. This functional limitation can be compensated to a reasonable extent/as far as possible by specific aids. Especially for computer use there is a tool by which text can be read or converted into braille (a screen reader). 1

4 Color blindness A different kind of limitation is color blindness. Complete or partial color blindness or daltonism is an impairment of the normal perception of colors. Color weakness (diminished perception) is more common than real color blindness, which is the total failure of one of the three color perception systems. Persons suffering from the most common form, i.e., red/green color blindness, cannot, or only partially, distinguish between shades of red and green. This phenomenon is not uncommon: about one in twenty men suffers from it. Dyslexia Dyslexia is a functional limitation reflected in reading and spelling problems. The most common characteristics of dyslexia are: problems with deciphering soundletter associations, and putting letters in reverse or random order. Usually, dyslexia is divided into three different subtypes: dysphonetic dyslexia, visual dyslexia, and fast automatic naming. Font Choose sans serif fonts A serif in a font is the extension at the tips /feet of the letters. There are two kinds of fonts: without these extensions (sans serif), or with them (serif). Sans serif fonts, like Arial and Verdana and Helvetica (for Mac users) are more easy to read for dyslectics than serif fonts like Times new Roman or Book Antiqua or Courier New. When applicable? This applies when a text (e.g., in Word) in serif font is copied from elsewhere and pasted in a text field (Item) in Blackboard. Whenever you paste a text in Blackboard the Times New Roman font is automatically selected. Text you type in directly, however, is always in Arial font. Therefore you do not have to adjust anything. 2

5 How to do this in Blackboard? Change the text to a sans serif font by selecting the preferred font: Font Size Make sure the font size can be scaled up If you enlarge the font size the visually impaired will be better able to read the text. Enlarging the font size is done as follows: Internet Explorer: menu View > Text Size > Larger/Largest Firefox: press the Firefox button in the upper left corner: Options Options tab Content; change the font size of the default font Chrome: press the Settings button in the upper right corner: Settings Advanced Settings under Web content change the font, including font size When applicable? Only when you place an HTML document (custom-made internet page) into Blackboard. Texts that are copied to or typed in a text field can be enlarged automatically. Zooming in the browsers mentioned above is done by pressing and holding the Ctrl-button, while turning the mouse wheel. 3

6 Alignment Left alignment Preferably, text should be formatted left-aligned, which is indicated in Word as follows: Left-aligned texts are easier to read for dyslectics than justified text blocks: the varying word spacing in justified texts is distracting. When applicable? This applies when you copy a justified text from elsewhere and paste it in a text field (Item) in Blackboard. All texts typed in directly will be left-aligned automatically. How to do this in Blackboard? No special action is needed. A formatted text copied to Blackboard is automatically reformatted to left-aligned. Color Be careful with color combinations and contrasts Some colors or color combinations are difficult to see for the color blind. Red and green are often problematic. Therefore, choose an optimal contrast (e.g., black/ white or blue/ white) and avoid green/red and red/white. 4

7 To be avoided: Recommended: When applicable? Whenever you wish to adjust the format and colors of a menu or text. How to do this in Blackboard? Item Select the desired Content Area Select Build Content Create Item Type the text and select the part for which the background color is to be adjusted Choose a background color with the Highlight Text button Menu Select Control Panel Customization Teaching Style Select Menu Style Select the button Text Select a Background Color and a Text Color Select Submit 5

8 Add Text to Pictures Most visually impaired people have difficulty seeing pictures Therefore, it is a good idea to add a text description to the picture. By adding a text description (alternative text) to the picture, a visually impaired person can form an impression of the information in the picture via the screen reader. The alternative text becomes visible by moving the mouse over the picture. When applicable? Whenever you add a picture in Blackboard. How to do this in Blackboard? When you add a picture to an Item, you can add an alternative text (Alt Text) under Image Options: Select the desired Content Area Select Build Content Create Item Press the Insert/Edit Image button Select Browse My Computer and select the image Enter the same text in the Image Description and Title text boxes. Select Submit 6

9 Scanned texts Scanned texts are unsuitable for screen readers Blind and visually impaired people use screen readers to read texts. Scanned texts (e.g., a newspaper article) are invisible to a screen reader as the program identifies the scanned text as a picture, which means that it cannot be read. When you have a student with a visual impairment in your group, please avoid scanned material. If you do not have access to a digital alternative you can convert the scanned material to a readable document by means of an OCR program. More information on OCR programs may be obtained from the Helpdesk. External Websites External website? New window! When you refer to websites by way of links make sure the new site opens in a new window. This allows for a clear structure. When applicable? When you want to insert a link to an internet site. How to do this in Blackboard? Inserting a link in a text field (Item) Select the desired Content Area Select Build Content Create Item Select the text in the text field Select the Hyperlink icon in the text menu bar Fill in the URL in the Link Path text box. Please include the prefix Mark the option Open in New Window in the Target text box. 7

10 Select Insert Select Submit Inserting a link via Add External Link Select the desired Content Area Select Build Content Web Link Insert Name, URL (compulsory) and description (if desired) Under Web Link Options, mark the option Open in New Window (the default value is Yes ) Select Submit Menu layout Take care that layouts and labels are clear Switch off menu buttons in Blackboard when they are not in use. Folders and items should be given a clear and appropriate name. How to do this in Blackboard? Switching off menu buttons Select the arrow next to the desired menu-item Select Hide Link Note: Empty menu buttons (content areas) will never be displayed to students. 8

11 Tags Hyperlinks Give the link a meaningful label. The link points to the page or document it refers to. Please avoid click here. Instead, type a descriptive name in full. Increase the contrast of a link not only by a different color, and a larger font size, but also by underlining the link, such that the link can be better distinguished from standard text. Provide clear descriptions of file types Make the type of attachment very clear: Word, PDF, PowerPoint, etc. The screen reader announces the document type, so that it can be accessed easily. PowerPoint Convert PowerPoint presentations to HTML Converting presentations to HTML considerably enhances their accessibility. This not only solves all problems concerning contrast, but also makes the presentation accessible to screen readers. The option to easily export a PowerPoint presentation to HTML is available in Office 2003, and Office 2007, but not in Office

12 Word Using word processors correctly When creating documents for visually impaired readers, many people, instead of inserting headings, use a large font size and put their text in bold type. The result is that their documents do not have a clear structure and cannot be read by a screen reader. The right sort of structure can be obtained by using Styles in Word. On the Home tab, select an appropriate style to create headings or to convert headings you created earlier. A good structure has several advantages: when the document is converted to HTML format, the structure will be maintained, so that it remains accessible to screen readers. The structure will also be maintained when the document is converted to PDF, which increases the readability for persons who use a screen reader. Tables Make tables read from left to right If you structure tables (e.g. in Word, Excel etc.) as shown below, the screen reader can read the information in the right order for visually impaired persons. The screen reader will first read cell A1, B1, C1, and then the second row: A2, B2, C2. 10

13 Personal websites in Blackboard Provide clear access to any personal website uploaded in Blackboard This way, the screen reader can provide the visually impaired student with the right information. For tips, see: 11

14 Further information For further information, please contact your Blackboard coordinator or ICT&Education coordinator. On the home page of Blackboard, in the module Informatie voor Studenten en Docenten click on Contactpersonen. Useful websites: Plexus Fenestra Disability Centre Studentencentrum Plexus Phone: (071) Mail to: 2008, Leiden University (revised 2012, 2013: Blackboard 9.1SP11, Office 2010) 12

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