Photo by goXunuReviewsNothing is more frustrating than being asked to read a poorly scanned in document. Whether the text is way too small or barely visible or crooked on the page, sometimes it’s just impossible to really enjoy the reading experience. I can manage, but what about those who can’t?
I thought I’d take this opportunity to write a post for people with learning disabilities, different learning styles, or even those with different learning preferences. Here are my recommendations for creating an accessible Ph.D.:
Articles and Documents:
How: Be sure the document is in ‘document format’ vs. a ‘scanned-in page’. If you *must* (and I mean there is NO OTHER REPLACEMENT) use a scanned-in page, please be sure the scan is of great quality- it should be precisely the same measurements as the original page and have nearly exact contrast (the text should be black, not light grey). Also, use ‘font styles’ not color to indicate emphasis.
Why: Real documents, such as Word or Google Docs, allow users to have screen readers read the words to them, do text-to-speech on various devices, or increase the font sizes. Scanned-in documents already put them at a disadvantage; poorly scanned-in documents are unacceptable. Also, remember screen readers can’t read ‘color’, so use styles to add emphasis.
How: Look for low-cost books or free open-books vs. high priced textbooks. Try to be sure your book has a relatively inexpensive e-version. If there is an e-version, be sure it is a legitimate digital e-book, not some crappy scan.
Why: It should come to no surprise that students hate paying high prices for textbooks, but a second perspective is continuous support for an entity that refuses to be accessible, affordable, or supplement it’s products with differentiated mediums. Respect that your students live in a world that is on-the-go and allow them to watch, listen to or read your content- whether they have to or prefer to.
Audio Clips and Videos:
How: Folks, your audio clips and videos MUST HAVE TRANSCRIPTS. That’s all there is too it. Either put in the time, get a grad student, or hire a transcription service. Each piece of multimedia you use should have at least a summary for those that are unable to fully experience it.
Why: For one, so you are ADA compliant. Secondly, so users can read along if they prefer or use the transcripts for notes.
Please feel free to comment if you think there’s something I’ve missed and I’ll add it to the list.