Improvements in RTL's Accessibility Portfolio

January 9, 2023

Several improvements to the RTL accessibility portfolio are available for the spring 2023 semester.  These include updates to the Accessibility Basics online course site and the new features, Immersive Reader and WYSIWYG Instructor Feedback tool,  provided by Ally in bCourses.  

Accessibility Basics Course Site
The updated Accessibility Basics site is enhanced with multiple means of representation of course content such as video tutorials and text to speech.  This course is a stand-alone resource for accessibility support for Instructors, Graduate Student Instructors, Instructional Designers, and staff at UC Berkeley.  The objective of this course is to share best practices leading to the creation of accessible instructional materials within bCourses.  Access to the site is available from this Accessibility Basics for bCourses self-enrollment link.

Immersive Reader
One of the most impressive features provided by Ally is the ability to convert files and course content into alternative formats such as BeeLine Reader, EPUB, Electronic Braille, PDF, HTML, MP3, and foreign language translations.  To complement this already remarkable offering, Ally added Immersive Reader to enhance the readability of course content and promote comprehension by providing an interface to activate text-to-speech, adjust voice speed, change the voice selection between male and female voices, alter text size, spacing, font type, and background color.  The grammar option divides words into syllables and highlights nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.  The reading preferences option resizes focus to a single line, three lines, or five lines at a time. There’s also a picture dictionary that triggers a visual representation of the most common words used in the displayed text.  Combined, these features assist students with various disabilities, learning preferences and English language learners to engage content. 
Watch the Ally Immersive Reader tutorial for more information.

WYSIWYG Instructor Feedback Tool
The second newly enabled feature in Ally is the “What You See is What You Get” (or WYSIWYG) Instructor Feedback tool.  This feature allows bCourses users with the role of Teacher, TA, Designer, and Administrator to receive contextualized guidance with how to create accessible course materials within Pages. The tool’s intuitive interface identifies and fixes accessibility errors, so that content is accessible for a wider range of learners.  For every issue detected, users have the option to select the “what this means” button, review a description of those who are impacted by the accessibility error, and consider the benefits of fixing the error.  The Ally interface also guides users to make the needed changes to improve accessibility scores.  As issues are addressed one-by-one, the Ally accessibility score increases until all bugs have been resolved and the accessibility score reaches 100 percent.
Watch the Ally WYSIWYG Instructor Feedback Tool Tutorial for an overview of this feature. 

Review more information on the Ally in bCourses service page.