In recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 16, Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) is announcing new accessible technology tools and offering live demonstrations from 9 to 11 a.m. in 2020 Torgersen Hall.

In mid-May, Kaltura, the vendor that hosts video.vt.edu and Canvas “My Media,” is launching Reach 2.0 — a new video caption request and editing tool. Reach 2.0 offers enhanced automated speech recognition (ASR) generated machine-based captions — at 75-85% accuracy — for all videos uploaded to users’ “My Media” space along with a downloadable transcript. The integrated caption editor allows video content managers an easy way to increase caption accuracy, ensure compliance with accessibility regulations, and help improve search results while giving all users a more flexible way to interact with audio/video content.

“Having ASR captioning available is a tremendous step forward for creating a campus that is digitally accessible. For those of us who have created captions from scratch, we also know that ASR cuts the creation time in half or more,” said Christa Miller, director of inclusive media design for TLOS’s Accessible Technologies. “Correcting the ASR output is completely worth the time investment, as it makes our messages clear, correct, and powerful.”

Choosing accessible learning materials (C.A.L.M.) benefits teaching and learning by incorporating principles of the educational framework for Universal Design. UDL actively includes people with disabilities, and at its foundation makes learning available to the broadest possible audience. Accessible Technologies will celebrate GAAD by hosting a reception to launch the Keep C.A.L.M. and Describe Images campaign (from 9 to 11 a.m. in 2020 Torgersen Hall). During the reception, participants will have the opportunity to learn about available accessible technology through conversation with students and hands-on technology exploration including learning more about the upcoming auto-ASR feature within Reach 2.0. Light refreshments will be served.

“The Keep C.A.L.M. campaigns illuminate simple and time-effective methods for leveraging accessible content to engage all information consumers,” said Mark Nichols, TLOS’s senior director of universal design and accessible technologies.

University members who can't join the celebration in person, can still participate in GAAD by trying one or more of the activities listed on the GAAD website and sharing tweets about their experience to #VT-GAAD @VT_TLOS. In addition, Accessible Technologies offers tips and online tools to check contrast, create video captions, and offers one-on-one consultations for interested faculty.

Along with promoting the Keep C.A.L.M. campaigns and scheduling one-on-one consultations with Accessible Technologies team members, the university community can help promote and learn about accessibility by attending the Accessibility Brown Bag Lunch Series, joining the Accessibility Network at Virginia Tech, and/or attending the next Accessibility Triage.

The Accessibility Brown Bag Lunch series offers weekly sessions that are primarily focused on web accessibility. The group attracts web designers, content creators, and developers, and functions independently from the Accessibility Network. Participants guide the topics for each meeting. Meetings are held on Friday from noon to 1 p.m. in Torgersen Hall or via Zoom.

The Accessibility Network at Virginia Tech brings together Hokies who share a common vision for enhancing digital accessibility across campus. The network provides information, community, and training to support a wide variety of activities including advancing web accessibility, incorporating universal design practices, utilizing assistive technologies, and choosing accessible learning materials. The network is open to all interested faculty, staff, and students.

The Accessibility Triage focuses on increasing accessible technology awareness and building hands-on skills. Participants learn about creating or editing closed captions, checking color contrast, testing Canvas or website content for accessibility, and using or testing with assistive technologies. The next Accessibility Triage is scheduled for August 20 from 9 a.m. to noon in 1140 Torgersen Hall.

For more information about the Brown Bag series, the Accessibility Network, or the Accessibility Triage, visit www.assist.vt.edu or email assist@vt.edu. Visit the updated Virginia Tech Accessibility Portal webpage for more information about accessibility across the university.

The Accessible Technologies group within TLOS, a unit of the Division of Information Technology, provides technology, resources, training, and expertise across the Virginia Tech community to build a culture of proactive digital accessibility.