October – December  2017
Volume 12 Issue 1 

ADA Center's quarterly Accessible Technology Bulletin

Technology Trainings & Events

Accessibility Comparison of Major Video Players
October 30, 2017 1pm CST
Harvard and MIT have been sued by the National Association for the Deaf (supported by the Department of Justice) for lack of accurate closed captioning on their videos. This keystone case also involves the inaccessibility of the video players. This webinar will talk about what makes a video player accessible, give a peek into the testing, and share the results of which video players are fully accessible. For more information visit 3Play Media .
Accessibility Checkers in Word, PowerPoint and Excel
November 7 & 9, 2017 1pm CST
This free two part webinar series will provide an overview of the things that the Office 365 Accessibility Checkers check in your Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents to optimize accessibility. Topics include what to look for in the Accessibility Checker results and what you will need to check manually. Even with the automated accessibility check, document authors and remediation professionals will need to make some decisions. However, these automated tools make your life easier! For more information visit Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI).
Accessing High Ground: Accessible Media, Web, and Technology Conference
November 13 – 17, 2017
Westminster, CO
The 20Th annual Accessing Higher Ground conference focuses on the implementation and benefits of Assistive Technology in the university and college setting for people with sensory, physical and learning disabilities. Other topics include legal and policy issues, including ADA and 508 compliance, and making campus media and information resources - including Web pages and library resources - accessible. For more information: Accessing Higher Ground Conference.
What Comes After WCAG 2.0?
November 15, 2017 10am CST
An update to WCAG 2.0 is in the works and the new version, WCAG 2.1, is expected to be published mid-2018. The development of WCAG 2.1 will focus on existing gaps in WCAG 2.0, particularly issues related to touch interfaces, small screen sizes, and issues impacting users with low vision and cognitive disabilities. This talk will share updates on the progress, what is expected to stay the same and what may change, and what the future after WCAG 2.1 may look like. For more information visit the International Association of Accessibility Professionals .
OLC Accelerate Conference
November 15 – 17, 2017
Orlando, FL
The Online Learning Consortium conference program offers a full complement of presentations that reflect the implications for the field of specific e-learning experience and practices. Keynote and plenary addresses, as well as pre-conference workshops, featured sessions, information sessions. For more information visit the Online Learning Consortium
Beyond the Basics of PDF Accessibility – 2018 Update
January 18, 2018 10am CST
PDF documents are not all created with accessibility as a goal, but content in PDF must be accessible to all end users including those of us with disabilities. You probably know how to add alternative text for images and mark text with heading tags. This session will show you how to identify and address the next level of accessibility barriers in PDF documents. In addition to learning ab out more complicated PDF repair, this session will bring you up to speed with user agent support for PDF and help prepare you to provide appropriate guidance to clients and customers creating PDF content. This session will also provide an overview of accessible PDF forms created using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. For more information visit the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP).

Share Your Ideas for 2018 Webinar Series

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We are currently planning the 2018 Accessible Technology webinar series. We would love to hear your ideas. You can share your topic suggestions via this survey link.

Final 2017 Accessible Technology Webinar

The final session of the 2017 Accessible Technology Webinar Series is Thursday November 16, 2017 1:00 – 2:30pm CST

PDF Accessibility: Regulations, Risks, and Strategies with Paul Rayius, Accessibility Training Manager with CommonLook

The internet will remain an important resource for many aspects of life: education, employment, government, health care, commerce, and more. As new and improved legislation is introduced, digital content accessibility guidelines are becoming clearer. Because PDF content is one of the most widely used digital formats to communicate information both online and via email, it is important to make sure that those PDF documents are truly accessible to everyone.

Unfortunately, many questions abound regarding PDF accessibility, testing, and compliance. Where does one start to understand document accessibility? How do we address it?

This session will give you a well-rounded understanding of PDF accessibility regulations, the risks associated with non-compliance (along with the benefits of making your PDFs accessible), and various options you can implement right away to improve the accessibility of your documents and reduce your legal risk!

    Things you will learn:
  • An overview of the leading accessibility regulations including ADA, WCAG 2.0 AA, Section 508, and PDF U/A.
  • The risks and rewards of document accessibility within your organization.
  • Available tools and suggested workflows to help assess and address your current document compliance needs.
  • Other tips and strategies to consider when creating your document accessibility process.

Paul Rayius
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About Our Speaker

As CommonLook’s Accessibility Training Manager, since 2013 Paul Rayius has worked with a variety of health care organizations, local, state, and federal government agencies, financial institutions, colleges and universities, and more, to assist them in meeting their accessibility needs.

In addition to his expertise with the CommonLook suite of tools for testing, creating, and remediating PDFs, Mr. Rayius is also well versed in accessibility standards including Section 508 (including the recent “refresh”), Health and Human Services (HHS), WCAG 2.0 and PDF U/A.

Paul is a member of the IAAP (International Association of Accessibility Professionals) and participates in, and moderates, several online accessibility groups and forums.

Prior to joining the CommonLook team, Mr. Rayius graduated with a BMe in Instrumental Music Education from Florida State University and taught middle school band for 11 years.

The Accessible Technology Webinar series is free, but participants must register first.

The Accessible Technology Webinar series is hosted and coordinated by the Great Lakes ADA Center and the Pacific ADA Center, members of the ADA National Network. The ADA National Network provides comprehensive services for up-to-date information, consultation, referrals, resources, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act for businesses, employers, governmental entities, service providers and individuals with disabilities

Punch-In Celebrates #NDEAM

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National Disability Employment Awareness Month is right now! It is a great time to engage with the Punch-In employment resources, including a free, online course on employment basics. The course has 5 modules, including new modules on the Americans with Disabilities Act and Assistive Technology. Punch-In is a project of the Great Lakes ADA Center aimed at promoting employment skills for young adults with disabilities. Join the Punch-In network today.

Understanding Accessible and Assistive Technology

By Jennie Delisi

Why Did You Choose that Word?

So many words, some with similar meanings – why do we need to be specific? Accessibility, features in apps that may assist people with disabilities, assistive technology, accommodations…these words are often used interchangeably, but they are not necessarily the same.

Technology has made huge gains in supporting individuals with disabilities to be more independent but not all of us have kept up with the current vocabulary. If you work with technology, employ humans, or are a human (since most of us are “temporarily abled”) it is important to understand the differences between these terms, and understand how each can impact a person’s ability to be a more independent community member, colleague or boss.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

If you are reading this blog on the web, you are using Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Emailing a friend, same thing. Creating a PowerPoint, posting on social media, entering your phone number into an online form that stores it in a database…technology is everywhere, and when we discuss accessible technology, we are discussing ICT.


While there is building accessibility, like entrance ramps, when discussing accessibility in terms of ICT we are discussing how the technology is built. Does the technology communicate information in a way that can be interacted with by those using accessibility features or assistive technologies? Like having automatic doors at the new grocery store, build a website, software, or document for all users. This is typically not a request on behalf of a single individual.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (or WCAG) is an agreement amongst a large group of international accessibility professionals about the basics of digital accessibility. Just as pizzas come in many different varieties but most agree that there are certain requirements for it to be called “pizza;” accessible digital content comes in many forms but has key similarities such as having text descriptions of images, and videos that have captions. Verifying something is accessible means reviewing the requirements for digital accessibility (the WCAG standard) and checking that the document, software or website meets the requirements.

Usability Testing By Individuals that Use Assistive Technology

This is not a test against the accessibility standard, just like you would not bring in members of the general public to test that all links on your website work. Usability testing by individuals that use assistive technology involves a person answering the question “can I complete task X” and “what challenges made that task easy or difficult.” And, though this person’s results may help you understand the experience of others, it does not ensure that others will have the same experience.

Accessibility Features

Today, many features are built into our computer systems and software to assist people with disabilities. For example, you can use the zoom feature on web browsers to make text larger. Accessibility features are not an add-on – they come with the software or device for all that purchase or use it.

Assistive Technologies

Assistive technology is necessary for some individuals, and is becoming more commonly used than in the past. This is a technology that is “used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities” (Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended). An example is software you control with your voice that lets you send email, schedule meetings, and access your voicemail system without using your hands. It may be used to access accessible ICT, and can range from very simple to complex systems. An assistive technology is used by a specific individual with a disability.

Accommodations and Alternative Formats

Accommodations can be requested by an individual “when you know that there is a workplace barrier that is preventing you, due to a disability, from competing for a job, performing a job, or gaining equal access to a benefit of employment like an employee lunch room or employee parking” (from the Job Accommodation Network’s Guide). Accommodations may or may not be assistive technology, depending on the specific needs of the individual. Examples of accommodations may include a request for an alternative format, such as a request for a large print or Braille version of a training’s accessible online handout. Like assistive technology, accommodations and alternative formats are specific to an individual with a disability.

In Conclusion

So why are the terms and their definitions important? We want more people to be able to communicate what they need, what needs to be built, what tools can help a person use the technology, how to get it, and how we can access all the awesome talent available in our community.

Thank you, Jennie, for contributing to the Accessible Technology Bulletin. Jennie Delisi was formerly an Assistive Technology Resource Specialist for the Minnesota STAR Program and is currently the Accessibility Analyst in Minnesota IT Services’ Office of Accessibility.


Last Updated on:
Mon Oct 30, 2017