The Office for Institutional Equity (OIE), the University Library, Information Technology Services (ITS), College of Literature, Sciences and the Arts (LSA), and other campus partners are piloting the Universal Design Online Content Inspection Tool (UDOIT) in Canvas to address more content accessibility issues earlier in the course creation process.
The team, collectively the Learning Materials Accessibility Team (LMAT), is supported in part by an Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Innovation grant. UDOIT, in conjunction with the Canvas learning management system, can help to inform an institutional approach to making learning materials more accessible for students with disabilities. The pilot is underway for this academic year.
Digital accessibility is increasingly becoming recognized as a complex issue to consider in our learning environments and new legislation has been proposed several times in the past two years. Providing better digital accessibility can increase learning outcomes and set universities apart and ahead of their peers. LMAT is considering how UDOIT, in combination with faculty development efforts, can help U-M be a leader in proactively providing accessibility in course materials. The team is leveraging data and institutional partnerships to help inform institutional strategy for addressing accessibility in courses.
How UDOIT works
UDOIT is an open source technology which can be run on entire Canvas courses. The tool identifies errors and elements which should be manually reviewed, and provides resources for learning how to fix accessibility barriers. Ninety-three percent of the courses LMAT used the UDOIT tool on identified areas for accessibility improvement.
One goal of the project is to raise awareness for accessibility issues broadly among faculty. According to a recent EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) study of undergraduate students and Information Technology, “11% of students with disabilities said their institution was not aware of their need for the technologies required for their coursework.” The recent ECAR study of Faculty and Information Technology shows that 60% of faculty who have support from accessibility specialists at their institutions had good or excellent experiences partnering to make their courses more accessible.
LMAT is hoping to work with faculty, technologists, and students to ensure that U-M is a leader in providing accessible learning experiences for our students. They are seeking to partner with faculty who use a variety of different course materials across a range of Canvas functionality and faculty who have prior experience and understanding of, or interest in, disability issues.
Faculty who volunteer on this project should expect to have 1-2 hours commitment per month. Time will be spent on setting up the UDOIT tool, learning more about accessible material creation, and providing feedback to the Learning Materials Accessibility Team. Space is limited for the pilot program.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about participation in the pilot. If you want to learn more about UDOIT or accessibility in courses, contact Nargas Oskui (email@example.com) and Phil Deaton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Nargas Oskui-Tabrizi, ITS Teaching & Learning, contributed to this story.