UDOIT (Universal Design Online content Inspection Tool)

From E-Learning Faculty Modules


Contents

Module Summary

An extant hard problem in online learning has been to ensure that the courses are fully accessible. This means that all the learning contents, assignments, activities, and assessments are available in multi-modal ways: videos are transcripted (audio-visual and text-based access), audio files are transcripted (simultaneously both auditory and textual access), images are alt-texted (visual and text-based access), HTML data tables are properly labeled (for machine reading through screen readers), color is not the only channel for information transfer (usually also text-based access), and so on. An open-source tool out of the University of Central Florida has been created to ease the work of accessibility for courses hosted on the Canvas LMS (by Instructure). UDOIT (Universal Design Online content Inspection Tool) enables a mix of automated scripting and human-based intervention.

Takeaways

Learners will...

  • review what makes online courses accessible and why it is important to make online courses accessible
  • explore the UDOIT (Universal Design Online content Inspection Tool) tool and its functions in the Canvas LMS
  • consider the path to get to UDOIT in Canvas LMS, review how UDOIT can be used, and consider how changes may be made using the UDOIT integration in Canvas
  • review what accessibility issues are not apparently covered by UDOIT and review how these may be addressed separately
  • consider how to include accessibility design into a regular course design workflow

Module Pretest

1. What makes online courses “accessible”? Why is it important to make online courses accessible?

2. What is the Universal Design Online content Inspection Tool (UDOIT, pronounced “you do it”)? What functions does it serve in the Canvas LMS?

3. What is the path to get to UDOIT in Canvas? How can UDOIT be used? How can changes be made using the UDOIT integration in Canvas?

4. What accessibility issues are not covered by UDOIT? How can these be addressed separately?

5. What are ways to include accessibility design into a regular course design workflow?

Main Contents

1. What makes online courses “accessible”? Why is it important to make online courses accessible?

Online courses that are “accessible” are available for use by the widest range of people regardless of their levels of perceptual and mental processing capabilities. The capabilities most often addressed include the following:

  • sight
  • hearing
  • touch
  • mobility
  • symbolic processing (reading)

The capabilities in people are usually defined by various mixes of capabilities. These also change over time.

Some common suggested accessibility approaches include the following (from the handout created for faculty at Kansas State University):

1. File contents in digital files and websites should be keyboard accessible for access and navigation. (Non-keyboard input devices require the uses of keyboard shortcuts to interact with the computer.)

2. Use course file types in universal product formats. (Ideally, many are going to open-source formatting for the highest level of access. Proprietary software formats may be affected if companies go out of business or change ownership, etc.)

3. Ensure that digital files are human accessible and machine-readable.

4. Properly name digital documents for informational value.

5. Structure text documents; show which texts are headers, subheaders, body text, and so forth. Structure indicates how a text document should be understood.

6. Use clear, simple English. (Online-accessible language translators do best with simple language, especially given the polysemous nature of language.)

7. Label informational graphics with “alt text.”

8. Transcribe and label audio and video. Ensure that those who have hearing issues or visual issues can still access contents.

9. Make accessible PowerPoint™ slideshows. Use the inherent text structure in PowerPoints. Add alt texting to images included in PowerPoints. Add transcription to included audio and video.

10. Use color in an accessible way. Use text labels in addition to color. Summarize and label data tables. This is to ensure that data tables keep their coherence even if they are being used through screen readers.

11. Support user control of automations and sequenced actions, as much as possible. Allow user control of time. Use time limitations reasonably and possibly even sparingly for assignments and assessments.

12. Plan live, online events to be accessible. Enable access through lead-up and lead-away activities. If possible, include live transcription, narrated drawing, and / or note-taking.

It is important to make online courses accessible for several reasons. It is important to be as inclusive as possible. It is important to “future proof” online learning materials (in part because these can be expensive to design and develop). Also, U.S. federal laws require that online learning contents be accessible.


2. What is the Universal Design Online content Inspection Tool (UDOIT, pronounced “you do it”)? What functions does it serve in the Canvas LMS?

The UDOIT (Universal Design Online content Inspection Tool) was created at the University of Central Florida in 2015 by Jacob Bates (project lead), Eric Colon, Fenel Joseph, and Emily Sachs. This tool was initially created for UCF faculty and released to them in May 2015 but released a month later to the general public (Swenson, 2015). This is a free software released under the GNU General Public License (v. 3 or later) based on terms defined by the Free Software Foundation. The software is available in an open-source way on GitHub, and others have since contributed to the code since its inception.

UDOIT is integrated with the Canvas LMS. It enables an automated scan of announcements, assignments, discussions, files, pages, syllabi, and module URLs to check for accessibility.

In a pop-up window, there are explanations about what the tool looks for:

  • that links contain texts
  • that images should have alt (alternate) text
  • that alt text should not just be the image file name
  • that alt text is more than 100 characters
  • that alt text for all img elements used as source anchors should not be empty
  • that table headers are present
  • that row and column “scope” declarations are in the HTML table headers
  • that text color contrast is sufficient against the background for visual legibility
  • that multimedia objects (audio files, video files, simulations, and others) have text equivalents (“What accessibility issues does UDOIT look for? - errors” 2017)

In the tool documentation, other suggestions were given, including the avoidance of using animated GIFs (because of the risks of strobe effects leading to seizures), using synchronized closed captioning for pre-recorded web-based video, chunking contents to not more than 3,000 words at a time, using descriptive link texts, offering updating text equivalents for embedded contents when contents change, using multimedia that plays natively on browsers (instead of requiring extra web browser plug-ins), using headings with text, structuring text documents by adding headings (and not using styles alone to provide document structure), and avoiding using color alone for emphasis. (“What accessibility issues does UDOIT look for? - suggestions” 2017)

Once the scan has run, a report is output (downloadable as a PDF file), and some of the fixes may be made directly from the web browser (just click on the plusses next to each of the identified issues to access a dropdown and click the green U Fix It button to make the change).


UDOITReportwithErrors.jpg


UDOITUFixItButton.jpg


The UDOIT software has received recognition and awards: 2013 Instructure’s Canvas Grant Award, 2015 Online Learning Consortium Effective Practice Award, 2016 Campus Technology Innovators – Administration Category, 2017 Platinum IMS Global Learning Impact Award – Established Projects Category, and 2017 Prudential Productivity Award.


3. What is the path to get to UDOIT in Canvas? How can UDOIT be used? How can changes be made using the UDOIT integration in Canvas?

To get to the UDOIT integration in Canvas (at K-State), go to the left menu bar. Click the UDOIT button.


UDOITinLeftMenu.jpg


Select the content to scan.


UDOITInterface.jpg


Run the scanner. Do not navigate away from the web page while the scan is being run. (If you do so, it will interrupt and end the scan.)

If desired, “Save report as PDF.” (This function does not seem to be working yet. The developers have been notified of this.)

Scroll down to view the report on the web browser. Changes may be made to the online course from a freshly run report.

Changes may be made through the U Fix It! Button.


UFixItButtons.jpg


4. What accessibility issues are not covered by UDOIT? How can these be addressed separately?

UDOIT does not seem to be able to assess the video captioning and image alt-texting of user-uploaded files or videos from the Mediasite integration. It is mostly reading the code from the pages in the course. This tool was only recently rolled out, and there may well be other findings as time passes and usage continues.

A direct perusal of the contents after a UDOIT scan may be in order.

There are additions to the tool that are being planned, including more UFIXIT capabilities and reporting statistics (Swenson, 2015).

There are challenges as well. For one, UDOIT calls out elements of the Canvas LMS design directly. (This issue is being analyzed.)


UFIXITFocusedonCanvasFeatures.jpg


5. What are ways to include accessibility design into a regular course design workflow?

It seems like good practice to include accessibility awareness and work from the beginning. Early planning saves on having to retrofit the learning objects with accessibility features later. This means that the accessibility work should be written into the work project documentation, the stylebooks, and other elements. And the work should be done as the objects are being created (and certainly before they are finalized).

It helps to budget the time and resources needed early on, so none of this extra work catches the design and development team by surprise.

If there are automated tools that may be used, these should be the “go-to’s” every time. One great example is Google’s YouTube with its auto-transcription based on artificial intelligence and machine learning (based on big data). The site enables the correction of the auto-transcribed transcripts…and a download of the .srt transcript files if desired.

Also, the design and development team may already have resources that may be used to enhance the accessibility. For example, if a video is going to be captured, and if there is already a pre-existing script, that script may be harnessed for the creation of a transcript…or it may be used against an auto-created transcript.

It is good practice to get the accessibility done at the lowest level of the digital contents. If the updates are done only on UDOIT, that means that the added data and such are in the pages and other aspects of the Canvas LMS…not on the image, the video, the slideshow, or other objects, which were lacking in the accessibility mitigations.

Examples

Please run UDOIT on your own courses to see how this works.

How To

The steps were described in #3 in the Main Contents of the modules (above). There may be other nuances depending on the particular online course.

After the fixes, it would be a good idea to re-run UDOIT. Also, as there are updates to the online course, it would be good to re-run UDOIT and to make the necessary changes.


Possible Pitfalls

What are some possible pitfalls in the usage of UDOIT? First, it helps to note that the other option to UDOIT is to do a manual walk-through of the accessibility features in the online course. This requires knowledge of what accessibility entails…and then recording of the respective challenges that have to be addressed for a course to be fully accessible.

Some pitfalls to the use of UDOIT could be assuming that this tool captures everything that may be inaccessible.

Another pitfall is that if users assume that the tool will necessarily make any fixes. Fixes are fully human-made here…because they are the ones with the proper data. (Video auto-transcription may be done in Google’s YouTube, and the resulting human-corrected .srt files may then be exported into Mediasite for fully closed-captioned timed text.)

It is generally advisable to integrate accessibility elements as closely to the actual image, video, audio file, slideshow, or simulation as possible. Putting accessibility in the online course page code is limited to that deployment. If the digital learning objects are used in other contexts, they would lose the alt texting and so on.


Module Post-Test

1. What makes online courses “accessible”? Why is it important to make online courses accessible?

2. What is the Universal Design Online content Inspection Tool (UDOIT, pronounced “you do it”)? What functions does it serve in the Canvas LMS?

3. What is the path to get to UDOIT in Canvas? How can UDOIT be used? How can changes be made using the UDOIT integration in Canvas?

4. What accessibility issues are not covered by UDOIT? How can these be addressed separately?

5. What are ways to include accessibility design into a regular course design workflow?

References

Swenson, N. (2015). UDOIT - Instructure Canvas Course Accessibility Checker. University of Central Florida - Center for Distributed Learning. http://accessinghigherground.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/AHG_2015_Swenson_UDOIT_virtual_thurs.pdf.

This information came from direct runs of UDOIT on a Canvas course in the K-State instance. The in-tool documentation was referenced.


Extra Resources

UDOIT. (2017). GitHub. https://github.com/ucfopen/UDOIT


UDOITonGitHub.jpg


UDOIT Canvas Community. (2017). https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/3651