Showing posts from 2017

Moving the Needle. Create Accessibility One Year Later

One year ago, I published "Be the Change" that began Create Accessibility. That blog post was motivated by my experience leaving Boulder, Colorado and the Google Innovation Academy. One year later a lot has happened that even I didn't realize until I did the numbers below.
Create Accessibility One Year Later By the Numbers44 Blog Posts Published19 Day #CreateA11y Challenge15 Video Tutorials8 Conference Presentations1 Google Site1 GitBook1 Caption Creator for Google Drive (Collaboration with Jordan Rhea, @rheajt)Countless Memories, Friendships, and Learning!

It would be great if any one of these solutions actually solved the pressing problem in education that I continue to address with this project. Unfortunately, there remains lots of online materials and platforms that are inaccessible to people with disabilities. Personally, I encounter inaccessible content on a daily basis, attend EDU conferences where videos lack captions, and encounter vendors selling products for s…

ISTE17 Presentation Materials

It was an honor to present Create Accessibility at #ISTE17.  I had two formal opportunities on the schedule to talk about my #GoogleEI project. There is another blog post percolating describing my overall ISTE experience. Until then, I wanted to share my Create Accessibility presentation materials.

Google Certified Innovators Tell All (Panel) I was one of 10 Innovator panelist who shared different aspects of their Innovator experience and participated in the backchannel with those participants joining us virtually. The event was live streamed and is now available on YouTube. Unfortunately for accessibility, the video is auto-captioned and there are errors throughout, including my contribution.  Below, I have provided a transcript of my contribution.

Transcript (27:25 - 29:01) Wendy Gorton: Now we have Melissa Oliver who is our Coordinator of Instructional Technology. Also Colorado. and Colorado is about to wrap up their year. So their cohort was the ISTE cohort. So they somehow pulled …

Dear Conference Presenter,

I recently spent the day finalizing session proposals to submit for consideration at some upcoming conferences. Several proposals focus on accessibility. This got me to thinking while I wait to learn of their status. Wouldn't it be great if the acceptance letter included something about ensuring the accessibility of your materials?

I took the liberty to draft such a letter as a starting point and included it below.

Dear [Insert Conference Name] Presenter,

Congratulations! Your session proposal has been accepted at [insert conference name]! [Insert Conference Name] values diversity and the learning experience of all our participants. As you begin to prepare your session materials, please keep accessible design principles in mind to ensure all attendees can access, enjoy, and benefit from your expertise.
Caption All Videos. Provide Alt Text on your ImagesUse Accessibility Guidelines on your Website  If you should need assistance in creating accessible materials, [insert conference na…

Day 19: Add Alt Text to Google Sites

Alternative Text is an accessible design feature that provides alternative text for images. Alt text is an important design feature for people with low vision or blindness accessing content online using a screen reader. If you have images on your Google Site that are communicating information, then alt text is needed. If images are purely decorative and do not serve a communicative purpose, alt text does not need to be included.

How to Create Accessibility by Adding Alt Text Click on your image in Google Slides. You know your image is selected when you see the blue box around it. Click on the 3 dots. Choose Alt TextType in your desired text > Apply

Current Challenge with Adding Alt Text It appears that one is no longer able to edit alt text on Google Sites. Alt text, once added, is not editable. In fact, I find that even as I'm typing the alt text, if I make a mistake and use the delete button in an attempt to backspace, it deletes the image entirely rather than allow editing. T…

Day 18: Creating Accessible Hyperlinks

One of the great benefits of creating digital content is the ability to use hyperlinks and make things interactive. How you describe your link text makes a different for accessibility. Using language like click here or learn more for your link text does not provide the necessary context and guidance for screen reader users to effectively interact with your content.

Screen readers will announce a link and then read the text that is linked. Here's a scenario for a sentence linking to more information about captioning.
Closed Captioning on YouTube is easy. Learn more hereYouTube Closed Captioning Tutorials will make creating accessible videos easy. The latter example provides context for your users. Your user would that the link was taking them to tutorials about captioning on YouTube.  The first example with the link text, learn more here, doesn't provide much guidance or context for where "here" is taking the user and what exactly they will learn there. For greater a…

Day 17: Color Contrast: Tale of Two Signs

I recently went to local, casual Mexican restaurant for lunch that I haven't been to in a while. It's a popular place where you can almost always expect to wait in a line to order before seating yourself. New on this visit, the large menus that used to hang on the wall behind the cashier counter have been replaced by 4 very large TVs displaying the menu digitally.  As I waited in line, I kept having to look at the ground because I found the menu so disorienting and provides a great example of how color and contrast affects the perception of digital content.
How Design Choices Affect Accessibility
Font Choices: Notice that Burritos and other Headers are in a crisp, sans-serif font. Each menu item is in a completely different font with much thicker letters and less space between them which makes that font more difficult to read.Font Colors: The patterned font colors between the mustard color and the white causes the eye to struggle to focus. The choice to lists the menu item in …

Day 16: Headings and Other Fomatting Features

When reading a newspaper, magazine, or even a textbook, I rarely read these types of text from the beginning to the end, word for word. Rather, I really on text features like titles to capture my interest and let me skip to that particular article. I use Table of Contents to provide navigation to exactly what I am interested in. Within a larger article or textbook chapter, I may scan the headings and subheadings to find the text to read more closely depending on my purpose for reading.  I may not read the paragraphs preceding a list detailing the top 5 habits to boost productivity but rather the list of numbers visually draws my focus and attention. As a classroom teacher, I taught my students to be strategic readers as well. Today, much of this type of text is available online but the reading behavior remains the same. I still look for the titles, headings, subheadings, lists, and more to be able to quickly find what I am looking for.

Now imagine, if you are blind or have low vision…

Day 15: Fonts

It is super easy to get carried away with fonts. Visit and there are over 800 fonts to explore. Choose a font and it will display even more fonts as popular pairings! With so many choices and great designs, it is easy to go overboard. This is never really a good idea as my recent sketch clearly indicates. Multiple fonts in a document, slide, or website can make the text difficult to perceive and for users to focus on whatever you or your students are trying to communicate.

Fonts can be organized into families or categories. There are handwriting fonts that look like cursive or more decorative fonts that can make your letters appear like they were written out of logs or even straight from a blockbuster movie opening credits. However, serif and sans-serif fonts going to be much more readable for a broader audience than handwriting or decorative display fonts. A serif font is characterized by little lines at the finishing edges of letters. Times New Roman is an popular …

Week 2 Reflection: There is No Pixie Dust

Spring Break coincided with Week 2 of this challenge and even though I worked a few days in the office, I had more time to devote to finishing up a previously unpublished posts. I also spent time working through a Web Accessibilility Course that is offered by Google and hosted on Udacity. I've only completed a third of the course so far and I've been learning lots more about coding for accessibility and new vocabulary--modals, focus behavior, and skip links and more! This is a big upgrade from my self-taught html skills when I worked for a non-profit academic society building websites and databases in Seattle back in the late 90s. Thankfully, the Way Back Machine doesn't have an archive of my work.

While updating my web skills this week, I came across an article on CNET about Vin Cert, titled "Internet inventor: Make tech accessibility better already." In this article, Cerf, who is hard of hearing himself makes the claim that accessibility "can't be a p…

Turbonote: View YouTube Video & Transcript Side-by-Side

When a video is closed captioned on YouTube, there is a transcript available below the video. These are displayed by selecting More underneath the video title and then choosing transcript on the drop-down menu. The challenge is seeing both the video and the transcript at the same time. You end up scrolling down to the transcript and back up to the video and repeating this cycle to get what you need.
The Chrome Extension Turbonote solves this issue. With any YouTube video that is closed captioned, this extension allows you to view the transcript next to the video. I use this frequently for longer videos because it allows me to quickly scroll through the transcript and find the part I'm looking for, click on that text in the transcript and the video will jump exactly to that location. The extension allows you to navigate a video just like you would in YouTube.

Turbonote can do more such as note-taking, bookmarking and other features which I have never used. I have used it strictly …

Day 12: Create a "video playlist" in Google Slides

This challenge is for those with newly captioned videos in Google Drive. With the recent Google Slides updates it's easier than ever to use and share videos in environments where YouTube is blocked. Whether you choose to caption Google Drive videos by uploading a transcript, using Caption Creator, or Voice Typing, it is possible to create a closed-captioned playlist of Google Drive videos using Google Slides. With Videos in Slides, it opens up the best of collaboration, students can use the comments feature to takes notes, engage in commentary, and/or easily provide feedback on peer-created videos. Enable the autoplay feature under video options and now it's possible to easily build a collaborative, progressive video story with each slide building upon another. All these files can easily be shared via Google Classroom or embedded in a Google Site for a larger audience. Videos hosted in Google Drive + Google Slides = endless possibilities!
How to Create Playlist
Create New Goo…

Day 11: Edit existing Captions in YouTube

Today's challenge is to edit existing captions in YouTube. When people ask for captioning workflow suggestions, my go-to recommendation is to edit existing captions on YouTube if it is not blocked in their school environment. I find this workflow to be the most user-friendly for people new to captioning.

Whenever you upload a video to YouTube, it automatically creates an auto caption track within a few minutes. (Note: Autocaptions are not produced for really long videos. Just another not to create really long videos!) In February, YouTube announced there were 1 billion autocaptioned videos. The voice recognition software behind auto captioning is continuously improving but my experience watching YouTube videos includes encountering F-bombs, hateful language towards race, gender, and sexuality, and other things that make no sense within auto-captions.  Some of the most egregious errors have been thankfully decreasing over the last few months but as a creator putting your work onlin…

Day 10: Voice Typing, Google Slides, Transcripts, & Captions!

The last two days have demonstrated how to transcribe a video in YouTube and Google Drive. Today calls for using voice typing to complete the initial transcript. Why? Let's be honest. Sometimes, we do not always record a video with a well-thought out transcript written in advance. Also, for younger students, students without typing proficiency yet, and/or students with motor difficulties, transcribing a video, whether in YouTube or Google Drive, can be difficult. Voice Typing to the rescue!  It's not an 100% perfect solution as edits will be required but voice typing will provide users a head start.

Back in October, I published a blog post describing using Voice Typing in Google Docs to Create a Transcript Caption File. This remains a viable workflow and now you have more options with recent Slides updates. With Google Slides now offering Voice Typing and the ability to embed videos from Google Drive, here's another captioning workflow with the added benefit of having the …

Day 9: Using Caption Creator for Google Drive

This is the challenge exercise I'm most excited about and love to share with others because I believe it fulfills a very real need in our schools. Many schools block YouTube for some or all students. Other schools may provide access to restricted YouTube videos but block the ability to create accounts, upload videos, and access its captioning interface. With unlimited storage in GSuite for Education accounts and the recent updates to Google Sites and Slides, it is easier than every to share videos hosted in Drive. Using Caption Creator for Google Drive provides a YouTube-like interface for students to create and edit transcripts to create closed captioned Google Drive videos.

This was a collaborative project with fellow #COL16 cohort member, Jordan Rhea of who did all the coding and made this vision a reality. Now Caption Creator for Google Drive ( is available and classroom-tested as a viable captioning solution for those working in e…

Day 8: Transcribe & Autosync Captioning on YouTube

Another method of captioning YouTube videos is to transcribe and autosync. This is my preferred workflow for captioning YouTube content when I don't have a transcript and my video doesn't have music or other sound effects that need to be formatted a certain way. For short videos that are less than two minutes in length, I think this is the best method.  An added benefit for creators is that the very act of listening to yourself closely when transcribing helps one recognize verbal tics, awkward pauses, and intonation patterns. Becoming more mindful of these characteristics will improves the quality of subsequent videos over time.

For longer videos and for students whose keyboarding skills are not proficient yet, this method of captioning can be quite challenging. On Day 11, I will share another YouTube captioning workflow that I recommend in these situations.

How to Create AccessibilityPrerequisite: A short video available ready to upload on YouTube. Visit your youtube channel a…

Day 7: Week 1 Reflection

Whenever doing something new, it's important to take time for reflection. To create accessibility one must adopt new work habits and workflows to produce digital content. This can be especially challenging when used to established workflows that do not include accessibility as part of the creation process. That is why I love teaching accessible design to students. It is possible to make accessible design workflows, like captioning, part of the creation process and during the process invest kids in the why behind producing content that can be accessed by a wide variety of users.

Personally, I have found the workflow of producing daily content for this challenge, in fact challenging though I do appreciate the self-imposed restraint of daily content production. I have a ton of unpublished draft blog posts that I haven't published because I wanted to return to them and continue to improve. I look at them now and some are not even relevant because the technology has changed or bee…

Day 6: Open Captioning on YouTube

Today's challenge is to Open Caption a video you own on YouTube. The difference between open and closed captioning is simple. Closed captioning is user controlled and relies on the user to turn on. Programming on television is the best universal example of this. In the US, the FCC requires shows broadcast on television be closed captioned with few exceptions. Sometimes that is done live for events like the SuperBowl or during News Broadcasts. Otherwise it is done in advance for your typical sitcom. In either case, the user must enable closed captions for them to be displayed. Open Captioning means that the captions are always displayed and the user can't remove them. You see open captioning on media intended for mobile devices or on digital signage. My review of Apple Clips and its use of Live Titles is considered open captioning. When you share your Clip with Live Titles the user cannot turn the captioning off.

Here's how to Create AccessibilityPrerequisite: Closed capti…

Day 5: Apple Clips with Live Titles

I had a completely different blog post written for today but saw a bunch of tweets about Apple Clips that were mentioning VoiceOver, Live Titles, and Captions that piqued my interest and had to try it out myself.

What is Clips and how can it Create Accessibility? Clips is a new app from Apple that is available for download on iPhone and iPads. It is a video creation tool with different filters, graphics, music, and text available. It was the captioning feature, that is referred to as Live Titles that intrigued me. Live Titles will transcribe or auto-caption what is said in real-time, not after the fact. You even have choices on the appearance of the Live Titles. Clips allows you to create a video, see the captions in real-time, and then edit those captions prior to sharing to different platforms.

How it Works with Live Titles.Download the Clips app from iTunes. It's free though I did have to upgrade to 10.3 first.Click on the Speech Bubble at the top and Choose how you want Live …

Day 4: Caption Google Drive by Uploading a Transcript

Today's challenge is to caption a Google Drive video using a transcript. The reality in many of our schools is that YouTube is blocked for viewing and hosting content for students. This is especially true for our youngest learners. Google Drive offers a great alternative. Videos housed in Google Drive play nice with Google Sites and Slides. Both offer lots of options for sharing student-created, accessible videos.

Many video creation platforms have the option of downloading completed videos straight to Google Drive. Whether you use WeVideo, Screencastify, Adobe Spark, iMovie or any of the countless other video creation platforms available, if you or your students prepare a  transcript in advance Google Drive videos are easily captioned. I prefer to use Google Docs for my transcripts but any text editor or word processing program will work as long as you can download the file as a .txt file.  (I wrote a blog post back in October when the transcript file was required to be renamed …

Day 3: Caption a YT Video by uploading a transcript

Today's challenge is designed to demonstrate how to caption a YouTube video by uploading a transcript. This method works best if you have a transcript before recording your video and your video is short in length. Whether you are doing this challenge yourself or with students, here's what I recommend for initial practice. The process is outlined both as a list and with a captioned video tutorial provided below.

(For those in school environments where YouTube is blocked, tomorrow I will be sharing how to caption videos in Google Drive by uploading a transcript. Completing Steps 1 and 2 will give you a head start on the next challenge!)

Steps to Create AccessibilityOpen a Google Doc (or similar word processing or text editor) and write a short transcript of 2-5 sentences. Some possible topics could be a short introduction of self with a list of hobbies, describing your favorite book or movie. Any topic is fine as long as it is short. Since I push-in to classes of all ages, I pr…

Day 2: Create a CC YouTube Playlist

Today's challenge is to create a YouTube playlist with only closed captioned content. You can choose an upcoming topic you're teaching, professional learning topic, or a completely unrelated topic of interest. If you used the crowdsource method from Day 1, you're halfway there.
Here's how to Create Accessibility:Visit YouTubeSearch for CC content by typing your search terms followed by ,ccWatch and vet your results to determine if video is worthy of your playlistIf yes, click +Add to and scroll down to the bottom and Click a New PlaylistName your playlist and choose privacy settings (I hope you choose public and share!)Continue vetting additional videos and click +Add to and choose your playlistShare your CC playlist using the #CreateA11y hashtag on twitter

Future challenges will include how to caption content on YouTube and Google Drive. Whether you are hosting your videos on YouTube or Google Drive,  creating playlists are a great way to organize content, especially …

Day 1: Find and Display Closed Captioned Content

Today's Challenge is to find and display Closed Captioned Content to use in your classroom, upcoming staff meeting, and/or professional development.  You can easily search YouTube for Closed Captioned content by including ,cc following your search terms and your search will only display closed captioned content.   If you are using publisher-generated curriculum and captions are not available for display, I recommend sending them a kind email requesting the availability of captions.  TED Talks are great resource for quality captioned content. Here's a few of my favorites, Todd Rose, The Myth of Average, Elise Roy, When we Design for Disability, Everyone Benefits, and Dave Rose, Making the World Accessible. Steps to Create Accessibility Visit your search terms followed by ,cc in the search barPreview and choose a closed captioned video to display in your classroom, upcoming staff meeting and/or professional development.

Crowdsource your closed captioned conte…

#CreateA11y Challenge Begins April 3rd!

Beginning April 3rd, watch this space for daily challenge posts designed to improve the accessibility of your digital files, videos, or other online media. Each post will provide step-by-step directions on how to create accessibility, including an explanation of how the design choice improves accessibility, and some recommended lesson ideas to help your students create accessibility as well. Educators are encouraged to complete the challenge themselves along with their students. Daily Challenges will be posted Monday - Friday, starting April 3rd and continuing throughout the month of April with the weekends left for reflection and sharing of helpful accessibility tools.  Each week will follow a similar theme so feel free to jump in and out of the challenges as it makes sense for your context.

One model could be to engage in the daily challenges yourself and plan to engage your students the following week. Another model could be to save the daily challenges for the end of the week to…

Community Contributed Captions on YouTube

Another option for captioning your content is to mark your video for community contributed captions. When Jordan Rhea, recently uploaded a YouTube video describing coding Caption Creator for Google Drive, this provided a great opportunity for me to try out this feature.  As a creator you have two options to enable Community Contributions for Captions.

Enabling Community Contributions.
1. You can make individual videos eligible for community contributed captions by going to the Advanced Settings of an individual video and selecting Community Contributed Captions.

2. You can make your entire channel and all its content eligible for Community Contributed Captions by choosing Community Contributed Captions on the Upload Defaults of your Channel.

Ready to Contribute Captions?
1. Visit Desired YouTube Video > Select Gear > Add subtitles/CC
Note: If you do see the Add subtitles/CC option when you click the gear icon of your video that means the video does not have community contributions…