BCcampus Accessibility Workshop Resources

Awhile back, I posted about the BCcampus BCcampus Inclusive Design Webinar Series.  But I since realized that I hadn’t followed up with a link to the resources which were posted later at BCcampus.

So, without further ado, here are the Accessibility Workshop Resources which include the presentation slips, and information on how to create accessible webpages, Word documents, PDFs, PowerPoints, etc.

If ever you have questions about how to create accessible documents for your WordPress sites, D2L course sites, or Open resources, or about how to create and edit closed captioning for videos you create in Kaltura, contact desupport@camosun.ca to arrange to meet with an instructional designer.


Complex Images and Accessibility – Portland Community College Website

When adding images to your documents or web pages/WordPress pages, to meet best practices around accessibility you need to add appropriate descriptive text to your images so that learners who can not see the images have an alternate way to access the images.  But adding text to images can be tricky when you are dealing with more complex images like graphs, maps, diagrams, charts, etc.

This Complex image Accessibility site (which opens in a new tab or window) from Portland Community College has some excellent guidelines for how to make complex images accessible to all.

Supporting Students with Disabilities in BC Postsecondary Online Course

Today, I’d like to take a moment, and a short post, to promote an online course offering, available for you, for free, from the Justice Institute of BC:  the open, online course Supporting Students with Disabilities in BC Postsecondary .  In addition, content in the course and associated resource site are Creative Commons licenced, so material is available for you to Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute!

From the website:

“In collaboration with Selkirk and Camosun Colleges, Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) has developed this course and a resource website to educate trainers on disability issues in the classroom. The purpose of the course is to increase the success of people with disabilities in a trades / technical program by dispelling common myths about students with disabilities and to address faculty’s concerns and questions about different disabilities. It will help each faculty member to obtain the appropriate knowledge and problem-solving skills to offer accommodations and select appropriate teaching strategies for their disabled students. The expectation is that the new techniques learned will help students achieve their full potential and success in their chosen programs.

This multi-modal course can be taken online independently, or in a facilitated face-to-face group. Throughout the course there are several engaging learning activities including scenarios with reflection questions, case studies followed by discussions, and simulation exercises aimed to trigger learner empathy.

This course provides practical information and easy-to-use strategies to help you to better support the learning of students with disabilities in your classrooms and campuses.

At the end of the course, you will be able to

  • Define what is meant by having a disability and become familiar with a wide range of disabilities and how they impact learning
  • Identify the concepts of duty to accommodate and understand the process of reasonable accommodation
  • Apply strategies and tools from Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to create an inclusive learning environment to accommodate your students
  • Develop personal goals, address institution-wide responsibilities and identify next steps for creating inclusive campuses”


Introducing ReadSpeaker (in the D2L Content tool)

ReadSpeaker “is a web-based personal literacy support tool that makes it possible for the user to listen to texts and documents using text-to-speech technology in a standard web browser”. We will be looking at the version of ReadSpeaker which is found in the Content tool of D2L. Some of you may have already seen ReadSpeaker in action, but for those of you who haven’t, this post will introduce you to how to access and use it in Content.

As noted above, one of the functions of ReadSpeaker is to read text-based content (HTML files, WORD documents, PDF files, etc.) aloud. This gives your students the opportunity to either listen to the content through headphones in situations where they might not be able to read easily (for example, while driving, or when using a phone), or to read and listen to the content at the same time (which is especially useful when trying to assimilate complex content).

There are two main ways ReadSpeaker can be accessed in Content, and we will look at each in turn.

First, for reading “web pages”.

  1. Go to the Content tool in your D2L course.
  2. Click on a page that is identified as a Web Page (if your course does not have “Web Pages”, see reading for WORD documents, etc.)

    Click a Web Page

  3. Click the Listen button at the top, left, and ReadSpeaker will start reading the webpage from the beginning, highlighting words as it reads them.

    Click Listen

  4. The Listen toolbar controls include: Pause or Stop buttons to pause/stop play, the Seek bar slider to move forward through the document, the speaker icon to adjust Volume, and the Download icon to save the audio file to your device as a MP3 file.

    The Listen toolbar

  5. Click the little down arrow to the left of the Listen button to find additional options, including:
    1. Settings: change the Reading speed, Highlighting (word and/or sentence, and colour options), Text Settings (font size, type, colours), General (scrolling, etc.).
    2. Changing between American and Canadian English
    3. Read on Hover: click then hover your mouse over the part of the document you want to hear.
    4. Enlarge Text
    5. Simple View: Highlight text first, then click Simple View. A box will open showing the selected text without any formatting.
    6. Page Mask allows you to highlight parts of the text as it is being read (the mask is a light horizontal block while the rest of the page is darkened). Click + to make the block larger, and to make it smaller, click X to turn off Page Mask.
    7. Translation: Highlight text first, then click Translation (and the language you wish the text translated to). A box will open with the translation.
    8. Word Lookup: Highlight a word, then click Word Lookup. The definition will open in a box.
    9. Help (opens a Help box).

      Additionl functions

Second, for reading WORD documents, PDFs, and PPTs.

  1. Go to the Content tool in your D2L course.
  2. Click on a page that is identified as a Word Document, PDF document, or PowerPoint Presentation.

    Click a WORD, PDF or PowerPoint document

  3. Scroll down to below the page that opens, and click the Open with docReader button.

    Scroll down and click Open with docReader

  4. The page will load into a new interface with a toolbar at the top, a left sidebar allowing you to view Thumbnails or an Outline of the pages in the document, and the document itself on the right.

    docReader interface

  5. In the toolbar, you can Show/Hide the Sidebar, jump to specific pages in the document, click Listen to hear it read aloud (using the Pause or Stop buttons to pause/stop play).

    Sidebar, Listen, Pause, Stop

  6. You can control how you view the document using the Layout mode or Text mode (which will show the text without formatting) options.

    Layout and Text mode buttons

  7. Under More tools, you can access Settings, Page Mask, Reading Ruler, Download mp3 of page, and Save document.Settings gives you the following options:
    1. General: Change the Speed, change the menu language, change how you select your reading area, change how the pages flip,
    2. Highlight settings: Sentence highlighting, Word highlighting
    3. Text settings: Text Colours, Font size, Font type (all with a Preview window)

    Page Mask allows you to highlight parts of the text as it is being read (the mask is a light horizontal block while the rest of the page is darkened). Click + to make the block larger, and to make it smaller, click X to turn off Page Mask.

    Reading Ruler allows you to move a dark block (like a ruler on the page) over the page, for example, to underline the text as it is being read. Click + to make the block larger, and to make it smaller, click X to turn off the Reading Ruler.

    Settings, Page Mask, Reading Ruler

  8. To return to the Content area, use the breadcrumbs at the top of the page (you can’t move to the next page through the docReader application).

    Return to Content using the breadcrumbs


Ethical Dimensions of Educational Technology: Part 2 – Some important ethical issues to keep in mind

It’s been awhile since the first post about this workshop, and now it’s time for the second revolving around some important ethical issues that came up during the face to face session. So, for today’s post, I am going to introduce and briefly discuss six big ethical issues we decided need to be considered when integrating educational technology into teaching and learning. This will not be an exhaustive (or exhausting) discussion of these issues – rather, I will introduce each one (in no particular order) and point you to more resources both here at the college, and outside.


When you use an online tool, do you and your students have to set up accounts? Do you need to provide the tool with your name and/or email address? What happens to this information (and any material you work with in the tool) and who owns it? Privacy is about keeping your personal information or intellectual property safe. While Camosun has a Privacy Policy (http://camosun.ca/about/policies/operations/o-6-information-management/o-6.1.pdf), it does not directly address the use of cloud-based tools to support teaching and learning. For that, we need to turn to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in BC (http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/96165_00).

In a nutshell, if you are asking students to provide personal information to a third-party for any purpose (for an activity, assessment, content access, etc.), you need to inform them of FIPPA, give them the option to opt-out, and be prepared to give them an alternate way of accessing the material if they choose to opt out.


Can your students access your course material? Can they see or hear it? Do they have access to the right equipment or software to engage with it? Do they have access to support and training for the tools you are using? Accessibility/inclusivity involves incorporating a variety of instructional formats, assessment strategies, etc. to support any number of issues, including visual, auditory, learning, mental health issues, and access to technology.

Consider how to make your courses accessible by designing your course materials ahead of time rather than waiting for someone to ask for an alternate format later (which is accommodation). When adopting a tool, review any accessibility features it promotes. If you can’t find any information, send them an email. An instructional designer in eLearning can help you assess the tool you are wanting to use.

To find out more about WCAG (Web content Accessibility Guidelines), see https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.

Want to go further? Learn more about Universal Design for Learning (UDL) https://sites.camosun.ca/fair/diversity/universal-design-for-learning-udl/ UDL Guidelines: http://udlguidelines.cast.org/

Also, see Camosun’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion policy (http://camosun.ca/about/policies/governance/g-2-organizational-goals-and-accountability/g-2.1.pdf) for information on how the implementation of UDL principles supports college priorities.

Learning Analytics

Do you like to know what your students are doing in your online course site, for example, how often they logon, how long they spend reading materials, how engaged they are in course activities, their overall progress through the course? These are learning analytics, and while they can be useful for knowing who is doing what with your online tools, and for ensuring that your students are completing the tasks you have given them, using them comes with ethical concerns.

We need to consider transparency and consent, as well as how we interpret and act on analytics. (https://elearningindustry.com/7-ethical-concerns-with-learning-analytics some of the considerations)

Online classroom ethics

Like the face to face classroom, the online classroom should also be a place where students feel safe interacting with their instructor and fellow students. Some things to keep in mind:

  • If you are adding others to the course (for example, another faculty member, or an assistant of some kind), let your students know who they are, and why they are there.
  • Discuss Netiquette with the whole group, or have students draft class or group/team codes of conduct for engagement in the online classroom.
  • Address any concerns or questions students may have about anonymity.
  • If you are using student or class progress tools in D2L, let students know you are tracking them.

Some college policies which support conduct in our teaching and learning environments include


I am in no way qualified to discuss indigenization, but I can point you towards those at Camosun who are!

According to our Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning website:

“Indigenization is the process by which Indigenous ways of knowing, being, doing and relating are incorporated into educational, organizational, cultural and social structures of the institution. The goal is to create a more inclusive environment through the presentation of a different world view, and to enhance and enrich the educational and cultural experience of the educational community. This does not mean the institution is Indigenous-centred, but it does mean that consideration of Indigenous issues comes “naturally”.”

And you can find out more about Indigenization initiatives, and who to contact for support, at http://camosun.ca/about/teaching-learning/initiatives/indigenization.html and http://camosun.ca/about/indigenization/

Digital identity

Closely connected to privacy, a person’s digital identity is their footprint online. Every time you sign up for a tool using your personal information, this information is saved and sometimes passed on to others, with or without your knowledge or permission. It is not enough for us to say that “all students use Facebook” so they know how to protect themselves because even if students are using cloud-based social media tools already, it is still our responsibility as instructors and as an institution to inform them of how to protect themselves from cyber-bullying, identity theft, etc.

Ask yourself “What do my students know about their digital identity?”, then ask yourself what do you know about your own digital identity.

In addition to one’s personal digital identity, consider how you and your students can protect your intellectual property. When using a cloud-based tool to host course or research materials, as yourself Who owns it? Who is using it, and how are they using it? Check the privacy settings, the copyright/ownership information, and don’t’ be afraid to send an email to the company to find out more. These are things you need to know before asking or suggesting students to use these tools

To learn more about digital identity, and for tools to help you and your students navigate this complex issue, go to UBC’s Digital Tattoo site (https://digitaltattoo.ubc.ca/)

Of course, there are many other ethical issues to keep in mind when adopting educational technology, including:

  • Social Justice, human rights, and equality with regards to the non-neutral nature of (educational) technology (for example, silencing, constraints, access, power structures, openness (or not), etc.)
  • Digital literacy and fake news
  • Emotional wellbeing (digital detox) and online addiction

If you ever want to talk more about the ethical issues raised here, or any others that come to mind, our instructional designers in eLearning would love to talk to you! Contact desupport@camosun.ca to arrange for a consult.

In the next post (the third of four) about this workshop, I will talk about some of the outcomes from the discussions and things participants wanted to do or learn more about!

Walls Optional at Camosun College- May 2nd

I wanted to let you know what is happening at Walls Optional this year (on Thursday, May 2nd to be exact).  For those of you who don’t know, Walls Optional is Camosun’s annual one-day conference celebrating the amazing work of the people at our college.  Every year we have a different theme, and with the launch of the new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy, this year’s Walls is all about Inclusion through Universal Design for Learning.

“Our goal is to explore how we can develop and support teaching & learning environments that are inclusive to an increasingly diverse student population:

“The homogenous class made up of students of similar abilities, backgrounds, ethnicities, interests, learning styles, languages and expectations is long gone – if it ever existed.” [from “You Need to Know About Universal Design for Learning”, 2014]

Inclusivity is at the heart of the proactive strategies found in the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines. The more we practice and discuss UDL strategies in our teaching & learning environments, the more flexible our course materials, activities and assessment methods will become, and the fewer barriers members of our diverse student population will encounter.

Walls Optional 2019 will open with a facilitated dialogue consisting of faculty and students who will speak to the theme of “inclusion through UDL”, and their experiences with this approach in their own classrooms. We will then break into peer-led workshops, of either 45 minutes or 5 minutes (“lightning rounds”) in length, and end with a closing plenary session.”

To find out more once our presentation schedule has been posted, and to register for this immersion experience into UDL, go to our website (http://camosun.ca/about/teaching-learning/events/walls-optional.html) – We look forward to seeing you there!

Open Access Week at BCcampus

I wanted to take a moment to re-blog sections of a post from BCcampus about Open Access Week, which is happening right now.  There are several events you can attend here in B.C., some of which are listed at https://bccampus.ca/2017/10/23/open-access-week-events-workshops-and-webinars-in-b-c/, but I particularly wanted to highlight a couple involving our own Sue Doner.  Check out the BCcampus link above for more information!

Tension and Risk in Open Scholarship: A Conversation

When: October 26, 5:00 – 8:00 pm
Where: British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Downtown Campus, Atrium Room, 8th floor, Room 825

Click here to register

Please join BCIT, SFU and UBC in celebrating International Open Access Week for a panel that examines the threads running through different tensions in the open movements, including:

  • Indigenous & Traditional Knowledge: Open scholarship may not be respectful of community authority, ownership, and norms of knowledge sharing.
  • Ethics and Privacy: Open scholarship may complicate the impacts of human participants in research, retrospective digitization, and students’ right to privacy.
  • Student-faculty relationships: Affordability conversations around open educational resources may lead to tensions around faculty motivation to provide the best learning resources. Open pedagogies can create risks for students: are they supported and what rights do they have in terms of their privacy, copyright, and consent?
  • Accessibility and inclusivity: Open practices may lead to digital redlining for individuals and communities and may not be truly accessible for everyone.
  • Instructor-Institution relationships: Open practices may allow the appropriation of instructors’ and adjuncts’ work putting their value at risk.

Featured speakers include:

  • Amanda Coolidge (BCcampus)
  • Jessica Gallinger (SFU Library)
  • Sue Doner (Camosun College)
  • Christina Illnitichi (AMS, UBC)
  • David Gaertner (First Nations and Indigenous Studies, UBC)
  • Lisa Nathan (School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, UBC)
  • Additional speakers: TBA

Accessibility, Inclusivity & OER’s

When: October 31, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Where: Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), Surrey Campus, Rm A2410 

Click here to register

By definition, creating inclusive learning environments and educational resources means that what is being created should be accessible to all students. What does accessibility look like in practice, and what can educators do to contribute to the accessibility of the learning resources & environments they create?

Camosun College‘s Sue Doner will lead this workshop, where you will begin by establishing a common understanding of key terminology like “academic accommodations”, “accessibility”, and “Universal Design for Learning (UDL)”, before identifying “6 easy things you can always do” to contribute to the accessibility of your educational resources. Finally, you will engage in an interactive, facilitated activity that will require you to adopt the perspective of a particular student and assess a learning environment for any accessibility barriers it poses to you/your student.

D2L Tool Tip of the week: Setting up Quizzes with Special Access (for example, for students requiring accommodation, time extensions, etc.)

This tutorial will walk you through setting up Special Access options in a quiz for a student requiring accommodation (for example, more time to write exams).  It will also note some considerations to keep in mind when setting up the quiz, depending on the kind of accommodation required by the student.

  1. Go to the Quizzes tool in your course
  2. Open an existing quiz, or click on the New Quiz button to create a new quiz.


Setting Special Access 1


Setting Special Access 2


Setting Special Access 3


Setting Special Access 4


Setting Special Access 5

8.  Note that you cannot Preview the Special Access version of the quiz yourself, but here is an example of what the student with Special Access will see…

Setting Special Access 6

…as compared to the “regular” access

Setting Special Access 7

Things to remember

If you will be requiring students to complete their quiz in the Respondus Lockdown browser, make sure to include this information for them somewhere BEFORE they click on the quiz (for example, in the title of the quiz) so that they know they need to go to Respondus LockDown Brower BEFORE opening the quiz.

Specific accommodation considerations Special Access WON’T help with

If you have students requiring spellcheck to be on you will likely need to set up a separate quiz to accommodate for exams with long answer questions if you want to keep spellcheck off for other students.

If you have students requiring larger font for their questions as well as for question textboxes (i.e., for answering Long Answer questions), note that this issue is still being explored and solutions will be added to this tutorial as they are discovered.