Brickfield Accessibility Toolkit has three main functions​

  1. To evaluate your course page, html content, and assessments for accessibility issues. When enabled, the toolkit identifies inaccessible web content, including images, text, links, media files, tables, and layout, and generates a report outlining issues that need to be fixed.​

  2. To apply bulk updates to fix unclear or missing text for links, add image descriptions and fix html tags.​

  3. To generate accessible formats automatically for your students, including Audio, ePub, and Electronic Braille. ​

Last updated: December 8, 2021, 2:28 p.m.

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What is Digital Accessibility?

The term “Digital accessibility” describes the notion of ensuring that all users, without discrimination, have full access to information and equal participation on the web. Digital accessibility is measured by levels of conformance to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community working together in the development of international standards for the World Wide Web, WCAG is a ISO/IEC 40500:2012 Standard and globally recognized for creating accessible websites and digital content.

According to the W3C website, WCAG guidelines are based on four main principles: content must be Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (also known as POUR). These guiding principles can be described in detail as follows:

  1. Perceivable - Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
    This means that information and web components need to be put into a format that enables access by assistive technologies, ensuring that data cannot accidentally be invisible to users’ senses.

  2. Operable - User interface components and navigation must be operable regardless of restrictions experienced by users.
    This means that the interface cannot require interactions that a given user physically cannot perform.

  3. Understandable – Both content and the operation of user interface must be understandable (including language settings, instructions, etc.).
    This means that users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface (the content or operation cannot be beyond their understanding).

  4. Robust - Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including the support of assistive technologies that may develop over time.
    This means that users must be able to access content as both general and assistive technologies advance (content should remain accessible regardless of the source of technological advancement).

Why Accessibility is Important

People interact with technology and navigate digital environments in a wide variety of ways. While some people with disabilities use assistive technologies, others make use of different screen sizes, or adapt the use of input devices like the mouse, keyboard, or touch screen. Regardless of the device used or impairment suffered, however, it is important to remove any barriers that might inhibit the inclusion of users. This principle is known as Inclusive Design; a guarantee by web designers and content creators to ensure that digital learning environments are accessible without the need for special adaptation or specialized design.

Provincial regulations require us to adhere to WCAG guidelines, ensuring that our digital products (including public websites, educational platforms such as Moodle, digital teaching and learning resources, and educational technology tools) are accessible to all users, especially those with disabilities. This is an important step in competently and fairly moving Concordia towards Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Using Brickfield Accessibility Toolkit in your Course

Brickfield​ Alternative File Format Plugin

The Brickfield Accessibility Toolkit also gives course instructors the ability to provide their students with alternate file formats for resources used in their course (including Text, Audio, Braille, and Ebook).

When you (or a student) clicks on the Request conversion icon, a popup screen appears where the user can select alternative format options into which files can be converted. The Request Conversion icon is represented as a circle formed by red, blue and yellow arrows, and it can be found beside each of your course file resources as follows:

Course file resources with the Request conversion icon besides each format

The Conversion Type dropdown menu shows the initial options available for the file you are converting (Text, Ebook, Audio, or Braille). In the textype example shown below, the available formats are doc, xls, rtf, txt, csv, htm, docx, and xlsx:

Format dropdown menu on Accessibility File Conversion window

For detailed information on how to retrieve newly processed alternative file formats, please refer to this guide.

Digital Accessibility Best Practices

The following are the best practices addressing the most common web accessibility issues:

  • Provide text description (also known as Alt Text) for images, infographics, and complex graphs. Reliance on purely visual representations of information causes accessibility barriers for individuals who rely mainly on assistive technologies like screen readers to navigate and interpret digital information.
  • Provide transcripts or closed captions of audio and video recordings. Closed captions and/or a transcript make your media files more accessible to visually impaired and hearing-impaired users.
  • Provide meaningful text descriptions of the destination when you link to websites or file resources. For example, use the name of the web page in a link text rather than the URL itself, and add a warning if the link will open in a new window.
  • Use sufficient contrast between text and its background to ensure that people with low vision can read, understand, and use your content.
  • When creating PPT slides, use the built-in slide designs, and give each slide a unique title. Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans serif fonts, and sufficient white space.
  • When creating tables, use simple structures with a logical reading order, avoid merging cells, and use the <caption> tag to describe the content of the table. Make sure to specify column header information, as screen readers use this information to identify rows and columns.

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