Community-Based Research, & why it’s important to work to get it right.

This past year, I had the distinct pleasure of working with the Trent Community Research Centre to develop a bundled set of experiential learning-themed openly-licensed, adaptable eLearning modules with complete scope that develops foundational skills in community-based research. Some of my favourite videos from the project:



I’m worried that your awesome Storyline presentation is actually inaccessible (and it’s not really entirely your fault).

screaming cat

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

I’ve been off on a rant today, warning users about the effort that is necessary to make an Articulate Storyline presentation accessible. The punchline is: it’s a heck of a lot of work, and my concern is that there are a large number of presentations that are being used that fall short when it comes to accessibility. Articulate publishes help files as well, and they have an active online community. By all means, check their site, but I’d advise keeping these pointers handy as well.

Some straightforward things you can do:

  • Use the Modern Player, and publish your content as HTML5, not Flash.
  • Add appropriate alt tags (NB: anything decorative should not have one, so that assistive technology will skip over it).
  • Configure/customize the Tab Order for every slide should so that it is keyboard navigable in a logical order.
  • Add closed captions to every slide. The closed caption editor is buggy, so budget some time to do this.
  • Embedded tables should have proper markup

These next things have some design considerations:

  • Make sure your master slides are accessible, because bad design trickles down.
  • Make sure anything you download from the online community is accessible before you start to use it.
  • Build slide sequences that have sub menus as separate slides, as opposed to layers (layers can be problematic for assistive devices).
  • Avoid using interactions that are problematic for assistive devices (no drag and drop, no sliders or dials, no hotspots).
  • Don’t have slides auto advance.
  • Restrict use of animations and transitions. Assistive tech will only ready what’s on the screen. If you like to have words appear in synch with audio, that’s ok, but this means that only the material that you have on screen at a specific time will be accessible. If users want to tab through a slide before your snazzy animations are done, they may miss some material.

And this is huge:

  • Hyperlinks on a slide ARE NOT ACCESSIBLE. You need to add links as buttons or build an invisible box around the text (& then go back and change the text to *look* like a link, & maybe add a hover state). This is a known issue. It’s been around for more than 4 years (link opens in new tab) , and Articulate has not addressed it, except with “work-arounds”.

  • Read the point above again…Articulate’s HTML5 output does not properly recognize Hyper Text Markup Language.

To Articulate: It seems that every vendor has a “our platform is accessible” pitch. That’s important, but when you’re pushing a bunch of the work down to the people that are using it by forcing us to use “work-arounds”, I call shenanigans. It’s irresponsible for you to say “our tool is accessible”, when you know full well how much work it is to make actually make accessible content with your tool. It’s a big problem when developers, instructors, admins, etc, are buying a subscription to your tool and creating content that they think is accessible, while you haven’t accurately told them about the work necessary to do so. That’s irresponsible.

& the rest of you: contact me if you want to chat about this stuff further.

 

Open-Access Workplace Integrated Learning Modules. Launched!

Over the past year, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with Niagara College (along with contributors from Georgian, Lambton, and Algonquin Colleges) in the development of a suite of 31 online modules to support student preparation for work integrated learning.  These interactive modules represent over 35 hours of rich content that can be used by faculty, career services staff, and employers to support student learning in applied and WIL settings.

These resources are licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY NC 4.0) and are available for adoption or adaptation to any person or organization in the province of Ontario, across Canada and internationally.  The modules may be packaged together to create an online course, substantial units of a course, or to supplement WIL experiences within other courses.

Thanks to eCampusOntario for funding this initiative.

Read all about and get access to the resources at https://www.niagaracollege.ca/cae/wil/.

Screenshots below.


ReMaking a School, Part II

Following up on my previous post, my quest for architectural drawings of Guelph Central Public School has come up zero. Plan B involves finding a creative individual to work from the photographs, written descriptions and site plan to create something that can be rendered on a 3D printer.

After a bit of searching, I found someone who could work with the source material. Within 5 days, this arrived in my inbox:

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Excited, I hurried down to the library and queued up a print job that matched the 2 hour time limit (read: standard quality, small size):

rough_print_170119010443

Not too bad? Now, to find a way to produce something larger and prettier.

 

New Pet Project: ReMaking a School

One of my resolutions for 2017 is to figure out why 3D printing excites me. I figure this new interest/obsession is linked to my days building set models for my undergrad and my grad research into placefullness and community identity. Admittedly, this may also have something to do with one of my all-time favourite movie scenes. But I go on.

I’ve been spending a good amount of time at the Guelph Public Library, taking workshops on Meshmixer, TinkerCAD and Autodesk 123D. I’ve also reading up on additive fabrication technology, and what how 3D printing will rock the world. Totally geeky, I know. There’s also a good documentary on Netflix – Print the Legend.

So, I needed a project to print so that I could figure some stuff out. Enter Guelph Central Public School:

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The building has an interesting history, summarized nicely by Cameron Shelley (Guelph in Postcards). It opened in 1875, and was torn down in 1968. Oh the 60s…not very nice to architecture in Guelph. Central has recently been in the news as local citizens have expressed concerns over a proposed development of the adjacent lot. The issue is currently with the Ontario Municipal Board.

I thought it would be neat to 3D print a model of the old building. They could have a miniature model to display in their library/maker-space. The kids could look at it, and maybe be inspired to learn more about 3D printing, local history, architecture, and such. Maybe the school could print copies of the model, and sell them to raise money to buy their own 3D printer? Maybe.

It shouldn’t be difficult to find architectural drawings of a public building. I thought the school might have a record (nope), or the school board (nope), perhaps the public library (zero), or the museum (negative). I also contacted Archives Ontario, Land Registry Office and the local University. No luck. There was a significant fire in the school offices in the 1940s. I’m guessing that the drawings may have gone up in smoke.

Along the way, I collected a number of quality photographs, written descriptions, and a site plan. Maybe this is enough to run with.

Stay tuned.