Accessibility, Are You Making Progress?

When accessibility was a new initiative five years ago, we were all lamenting about how difficult it would be to fix all of the files, videos, and handouts that we use. It was acknowledged accessibility was not something that could be fixed quickly, but that we needed to make progress over time. That continues to be our goal today. As you look at your course materials, do you see improvement in how accessible they are? We hope so! We’ve been working on improving accessibility for more than 5 years!

Accessibility Initiative Recap

  • September 2014 – The Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) hosted an Accessibility Summit. All TBR schools were invited to learn about accessibility. Over the next two years, TBR provided on-campus training about accessibility topics.
  • 2015 – An accessibility task force was created at TBR and at Vol State. Vol State’s Distributed Education office began providing workshops on how to make materials more accessible.
  • Fall 2016 – Vol State began requiring that all course syllabi be formatted for accessibility and submitted an audit report to TBR documenting the accessibility of each course syllabus.
  • 2016 & 2017 – The accessibility of the course materials in the “Top 30” courses was audited with an intent to improve accessibility from the first report to the second report.
  • Fall 2018 – Vol State conducted an accessibility audit of the materials in several high enrollment Business and Technology courses.
  • Fall 2019 – Vol State procured Ally. The annual TBR audit will consist of half of our general education curriculum this fall. The other half will be audited in spring 2020.

About Ally

Ally is a tool that can help instructors check and improve content accessibility within eLearn. For most content uploaded or created in your eLearn course, the Ally accessibility score icon will show how accessible the content is in its current state.

  • Ally icon for low accessibility scoreLow
  • Ally icon for medium accessibility scoreMedium
  • Ally icon for high accessibility scoreHigh
  • Ally icon for perfect accessibility scorePerfect

This score is only visible to the instructor of the course, not the students. The higher the score, the fewer issues the content has.

It’s important to note that Ally won’t “fix” course content, but it does provide instructions to the faculty about an item’s accessibility and how to correct issues that it catches.

Ally icon for alternative format download optionsFor students, Ally will provide several alternative formats of the content (e.g., epub and audio files). This is good because it helps all students universally, including those with disabilities.

Here are a few Ally support articles:

Moving Forward

As we continue forward with accessibility, it is important to be persistent in applying accessibility techniques to all of the content that we provide to students. After all, accessibility is a marathon, not a sprint. It is an ongoing process of continuous improvement.

Continuous improvement is a cyclical, ongoing process

If you need a refresher on accessibility techniques, check out these resources:

Star BoeStar Boe, Instructional Design Specialist

Rhonda GregoryDr. Rhonda Gregory, Dean of Academic Support