Access to Media for People with Sensory Disabilities

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Access to Media for People with Sensory Disabilities

Today I’m honored to introduce Bryan Gould Bryan is the Director of Accessible Learning and Accessible Technology at WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media He holds a Bachelors from Syracuse University and his Masters from UMass Amherst Bryan conducts research in his leading efforts to make guideline base methods of embedded image descriptions in digital books, online curriculum and online assessments He has authored definitive image description guidelines and trained thousands of individuals to create high quality text alternatives to images Prior to joining the National Center for Accessible Media, he spent ten years in the descriptive video services hiring and training describers He conducts focus groups of blind and visually impaired TV and movie audiences and writing over 400 description narrations and texts Also, Bryan is actually the voice of the CPDC video So without further ado, here’s Bryan Gould >> Thank you, Rachel. Thank you, Dr. Huber And welcome And I’m glad to be part of your Saturday morning this morning It’s a pretty significant and special effort to see this many people out to work with kids with disabilities on a Saturday morning, when you’re an undergrad and it’s gratifying for me to be able to come talk to you So let’s get right into it This is who I am: Bryan Gould And we’re going to talk about access to media for people with sensory disabilities, probably a little different than other presentations that you’ve seen We’re going to talk less about mobility and more about media And here are goals for today The first one is to define a sensory disability, at least for our purposes today And that’s going to be someone who’s blind or visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing or a combination of both disabilities, which is deaf/blind And by way of introduction, I want to say I know in my, Rachel mentioned that I’m from WGBH, which is, does anybody know what WGBH is? Raise your hand One person? Two, three, four. OK. Thank you It’s that public television station and radio, two radio stations Three radio stations in Boston And we produce over a third of adult prime time programming on PBS, shows like Antiques Roadshow, Downton Abbey, which is part of Masterpiece Theater Nova, Frontline, This Old House Lots of very popular programming on PBS and lots of kids’ shows as well And as I say, we have two radio stations And so the first question is usually, what the heck am I doing here? Why am I not talking about Arthur or Downton Abbey? Why am I talking about access to people with disabilities? And the reason is that WGBH has had a commitment to people with disabilities since the beginning Part of our mission is to provide educational media to all audiences And that began in earnest back in the early 1970s when we developed the technology that enables us to transmit closed captions Captions are the transcription of dialogue on the screen for people who are blind or visually impaired And open captions are ones that everybody can see closed, is you have a little button where you can turn them on and off and that began in the early ’70s and the first program was Julia Child’s The French Chef So people who are deaf or hard of hearing could understand what was happening and know what she was saying It doesn’t show the accent that she had, if anybody’s familiar with Julia Child And in terms of media, especially audio/visual media, for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, this is the solution: captions So you can read what’s being said It’s straightforward, there’s different, there’s a lot of technology involved in getting to get captions to play on a lot of different devices and in different situations, which I’ll talk about But this is really the solution Similarly, WGBH, about 20 years later, took a phenomenon that happened naturally People who are blind and visually impaired have for generations gone to the movies, gone to theaters with their friends and loved ones and basically had the play-by-play, if you will, spoken to them over the, you know, over the shoulder What’s happening now? Oh, right now a cow is chewing some hay OK, thank you And there was an organization in Washington, D.C called Washington Ear that had professional people to do this in a theater while a play was going on So WGBH worked with them and professionalized it even further so that someone would take a film or a TV show, write a script of narration that describes the settings, the action, facial expressions, anything you would miss if you can’t see what’s happening, then have a professional narrator come in and read it and record it and the description, as you see here Here’s a totally visual representation of an audio phenomenon

You know, you got it to change it up sometimes But, so the description explains what’s happening and the person who is blind or, blind or visually impaired can follow what’s happening And I’ll show you two examples right now Or I’ll play you two examples So this first one is your traditional educational video All right You’ll recognize the narrator. He’s awesome And if you want, you’d like to, you can close your eyes and see if you can follow along or you can just watch >> maple seedlings are topped with dry seed covers that look like paper hats Green leaves grow out of branches as thick as a pencil A leafy vine grows in a twisting motion, wrapping itself around a stake as it moves upward A small bud expands and opens into four big leaves A little white root pokes at the seed like a tongue sticking out a mouth The fuzzy white root grows longer and sticks into the ground The stalk grows upward and lifts the seed off the ground As it grows, it ripples back and forth >> So as you can see, the words in there are, it’s descriptive It’s descriptive narration If you were blind or visually impaired, you would not know anything that’s going on there without the description and you can have some fun with the language, as long as it’s appropriate It has to be appropriate for the grade level It has to be appropriate for the intent of the video Obviously this is probably for younger students You’re not going to use a dry technical language to describe the seed parts or the plant parts while you’re doing it We do have some fun while we’re doing this Let me play you another one And this has no video to it See if you can figure out what film this is from >> Now as flames billow toward us in a fiery explosion, dark smoke follows the center, taking the vague shape of spread wings and pointy ears The symbol envelopes us Daytime Soaring toward glassy high-rises, our view glides over a concrete rooftop, whose corners bear boxy two-story towers We continue toward a dark skyscraper with shimmering windows, which reflect the other building One window shatters Inside a man in a rubbery, macabre clown mask lowers a gun and feeds a cable into the muzzle He shoots it toward the rooftop Now a slouchy man stands on a street corner with a duffle bag slung over his shoulder and a grotesque clown mask dangling from his hand A car pulls up and he jumps in back In the skyscraper, the gunman attaches the duffle bag to the cable and sends it driving toward the facing building He and the clown slide down after it >> Any idea? Batman, right. Dark Knight So of course, there was no dialogue in there There was just some music and a few sound effects So for the person who’s blind, it’s that voice, that narrator, that sets up the entire scene, sets up the entire film So we have these two services: captioning for people who are deaf and hard of hearing and description for people who are blind and visually impaired Does anybody know what this is? Just the thing, this little piece of plastic? It’s an audio cassette, right? So what’s the title? Fundraising on the Internet So this thing actually exists I keep it on my bulletin board, basically to remind me how fast technology moves Because at some point this was the height of technology, which was getting an audio cassette that taught you how to fundraise on the Internet, of all things I mean, it’s ridiculous So technology moves quickly and that’s where the department, the group that I’m from, the National Center for Accessible Media came from Basically we’re part of WGBH and we were created in the mid 1990s to ensure that with every technological shift, people with sensory disabilities are not left behind, OK And how do we do that? Well, our mission is to bring accessible media and technology into homes, schools, workplaces and communities and we do it through a variety of means Research, you know, regular research and development and we create solutions We work on standards boards and standards committees and that is international, Internet standards boards We work with software standards, technology standards, standards that operate things like this Your phones and other things We create accessible content like captions and descriptions We work on compatibility with the assistive technology to make sure that off-the-shelf software, off-the-shelf hardware devices work with people’s different assistive technology We also do what I’m doing here today, which is advocacy training and outreach

And those are all different jobs that are at NCAM and that exist out there in the world for people who want to work with people with disabilities So one of the first projects that MoPix, one of the first solutions that MoPix developed was called, that NCAM developed was called MoPix, Motion Picture Access Project And this was taking captions and descriptions and bringing them into a movie theater so that someone who is blind or deaf could go to a movie with their friends or loved ones in a regular movie theater and enjoy the film without having someone whisper to them or sign to them what was happening And you can see one of technologies here It’s very simple It’s literally a smoky, Plexiglas screen attached to a gooseneck with an adapter that goes in your cup holder And you just stand right here or sit here And angle it, because on the back was an LED screen showing the captions backwards and upside down They reflect here And the cool thing about this was that nobody around you or behind you could see the captions, because of the angle you could look right through and you’d never know it’s there And similarly, if you were blind or vision impaired, there was a headset that played the descriptions over there Which is a great, elegant, simple, low cost solution for movie theaters and there’s five or six hundred movie theaters around the country, including one in Framingham, here in Massachusetts And even more in Canada, actually They’re a little more progressive on that front, that offer this solution Museum of Science in Boston has this solution But as we know, media exists in lots of places these days And here are just some examples Online, on airplane flights, digital television, web meetings, museums You’re always encountering media everywhere and we work on all of these fronts to ensure that people with sensory disabilities are able to access the media and aren’t shut out So I’m going to talk about two different new environments and new media Does anybody know where we are right here? Epcot, right? So Disneyworld, we work with Disneyworld and all of their associated theme parks in developing access solutions for there Now, here’s a place where you’re outside, you’re inside, you’re walking around; they’re huge places And they decided to go with a specialized piece of equipment, which you can see right here that has all of their accessibility information they have Assistive listening, audio description, captioning and I’ll play you a quick video to show you what the experience is like So what we’re going to see is a cloudy, a cloudy shot meant to simulate what it’s like for someone who’s severely visually impaired, walking through one of the attractions at Disneyworld And up here you’ll see a little cheat screen of what’s actually happening and what you’ll hear is what they’re hearing over their device >> And then the guest has the option to drill down its audio-based menus to listen to the information in Pixar Place >> Pixar Place audio menu Chose one of seven One: detailed description >> A wide avenue leads visitors through Pixar Place A small campus of brick buildings decorated with giant classic toys Colorful toy monkeys with linked arms for a chains overhead Below, a huge blue barrel labeled “Barrel of Monkeys” has an open lid Life-size toy soldiers place letter tiles on a room-sized Scrabble board, suspended from a rooftop The tiles spell out “Meet the Toys” and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” On one side of the avenue, alphabet blocks and Scrabble tiles spell out the main attractions’ name over a doorway Toy Story Midway Mania >> And that seems like, well, you just implement that everywhere, right? Well, no, not necessarily Because sometimes you have a situation where it’s, this particular solution, I’m going to show, was shown for a temporary exhibit They didn’t want to buy a whole bunch of hardware to give out to people with disabilities They said, don’t these people have phones? We can use their own phones And so we developed the solution for that And I’ll show you a quick way that this works And you’ll see a little bit of how something that’s intended for people with disabilities, can actually be extended because of the flexibility of content and technology to people who have different needs as well >> Displaying open captions is a good solution for providing access to video presentations However, open captions are not always feasible NCAM has developed Media Access Mobile to provide synchronized captions on a mobile device The browser-based interface is simple to use Just select the video title, accessibility option and captions will begin streaming automatically

It’s just as easy to stream audio description for people who are blind or visually impaired There are many possibilities For example, Media Access Mobile can provide captions in multiple languages These effectively act as text translations You can even provide synchronized audio tracks in other languages, which act as audio translations If desired, you can provide the text of the audio descriptions to be used by screen readers and other access technology Media Access Mobile is versatile It works on the Internet or localized WiFi network Captions of descriptions can be provided on most mobile devices, whether they are personal devices or devices provided by the exhibitor For more information about Media Access >> So you might think, OK, well, now we’ve had it We have captions and descriptions We even have translations sent to other languages for people who are in, what you might call a disabling environment, which is a place where the audio is only in English, but they don’t speak English So you have a translation Great That’s wonderful How does that happen? Well, I mean, so this is just available Anytime I come upon a movie or a piece of media out there in the world, it’s going to be described and captioned and accessible for everybody, right? Well, the answer’s of course no Because someone has to make the decision to actually do that work Somebody has to pay for it And it has to be implemented and it has to work And why would anybody do this? Why would a company or a exhibitor decide to do that? And there’s really three reasons One’s a social mandate It’s simply the right thing to do, to make all of your products or content or services available for everyone, including people with disabilities There’s also a legal mandate There’s laws called Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 508, that are law and requirements that, or there are laws that require certain organizations or companies with areas, products or any governmental organization to make everything they do accessible for people with disabilities So there’s, they want to avoid getting sued And quite honestly, in the work that we do and the type of consulting that we do, there’s two ways that most of our clients come to us And that’s either litigation or legislation Accessibility, unfortunately has to be legislated Companies and organizations must be forced at times to make their products and services accessible for people with disabilities And if they are either being sued or thinking about being sued, then they will come and find the solutions and pay for them as well But, there is a bright spot And that’s the market advantage and we’re beginning to see this in some areas, where companies are actually seeing a market advantage in being accessible because there a lot of people with disabilities and they want them, and they want their products and services to be available to them People with disabilities have jobs and they buy stuff It’s as simple as that That’s the, you know, the dollar argument It makes your company look good, you know You can tweet about it It gives you something for social media for a day or two There’s a differentiator, I’ll talk about one of those examples in a little bit The Plus Three Rule is basically something that we use in our, in our community to say everybody with a disability knows at least three people that are going to be impressed with the company or an organization that makes their products or services accessible to that person that they know and love It’s probably much more, but at least three So you can always multiply the, you know, if you say, well, there’s however many people with disabilities using my service Well, you’re really, multiply that by three, by the number of people that you’re impressing by it And the curb cut effect Here’s a curb cut, right? It’s a ramp at the end of a sidewalk They’re almost, they’re ubiquitous at these days Does anybody know what the rubberized strip is for? With the little bumps on it? >> To slow somebody down? >> Well, it wouldn’t slow somebody in a wheelchair down It could let them know as their wheels start to shake a little bit And that’s exactly why it’s there It’s for someone with a cane If you’re blind or visually impaired, you can feel the bumps And it would help a dog, a Seeing Eye dog, too And these were originally intended for people in wheelchairs But who else uses them? Anybody? Who would benefit, who benefits from a curb cut? >> Older people? >> No. Universally, any old person >> Someone with a walker or a baby carriage >> Right. Yep Anybody on crutches, an elderly person using a cane so they don’t have to step three or four inches off the curb Someone with a baby carriage

Somebody on roller blades Kids on bikes with training wheels Anybody who is, benefits from a ramp And when you extend this, we can look at captions I mentioned something called the disabling environment and here are two The treadmills in the gym and a noisy bar Right? You can’t hear the audio in your TV and often the captions are turned on at the gym Often the captions are turned on here or at an airport waiting area or at a library, where maybe you can’t play the audio and you forgot your headphones You can always turn on the captions So unintent, you know, unintended benefits for unintended audiences often come out of making things accessible And I’ll continue to talk about that Think outside the box Captions are useful for people who are learning to speak English, because you can hear the English and you can also read it at the same time You’re getting double reinforcement of the language And we have also heard of innovative teachers using the audio description to teach creative writing So let’s look at some old technology Right? This is a book And this is inaccessible for anybody who has print disability And we’ll define a print disability as someone who cannot read traditional print This is either because of a physical disability, visual impairment or blindness or learning disability like dyslexia or another cognitive impairment that prevents them from reading traditional text So let’s narrow that down a little further, which is my area of research, which is blindness How would a blind person read the words on this book? What’s one solution? Nobody help me out? >> Audio book >> Audio book Does anybody have another one? We’re going to get to audio books >> Braille >> Braille Good, that’s the next slide, so I have to go with Braille I’ll go to audio books next All right, so Braille And this is often for people who are not in the know, think well, blind people read Braille It was invented in the 1800s It’s a series of raised dots that you read with your finger And does anybody know how many people read Braille? There’s about 60,000 blind students in the United States, that’s a pretty small number About ten percent of them read Braille Right? It’s miniscule Some of the other problems with Braille is that people who lose their sight later in life tend not to read Braille And one of the major causes for losing vision later in life is diabetes, which also can affect your tactile sensation at the tips of your fingers So you’re not getting, the largest growing number of people who are losing their sight are in their 60s and 70s and older And they tend not to read Braille Now there is quite a debate among teachers of the blind and visually impaired and educators that work with students who are blind in that reading Braille equals literacy Because with Braille you learn how to spell You learn punctuation You learn proper grammar Audio is different. And it just is It’s a similar debate or it’s a similar situation with students who are deaf and learn American Sign Language as their first language And then American English is essentially a second language So students who are deaf, certainly at the younger grades, are usually reading English at a lower level than their grade would indicate even though they’re proficient in American Sign Language and similarly students who are blind and visually impaired are often reading at a lower level, whether or not they read Braille or if they’re relying solely on audio Now I mentioned 60,000 blind school age children That is really a tiny number It’s really, it’s not insignificant but it is small But when we expand this to school age kids who report a visual disability, not just blindness, it’s well over half a million, it’s 650.000 And when you look at the entire population of the U.S., up through adults that report a visual disability at all, it’s 6.5 million So your audience for, the audience of people who cannot read traditional print is much larger And that’s not even including students with learning disabilities, which makes that 6.5 million, that seems like a small number So audio books Here’s your typical audio book participant? No So this slide just indicates that audio books have been around since we had the ability to record and play back the human voice They’ve been around for a very long time, even when people were using record players And how do you create an audio book? You could be legendary comic book author Stan Lee and going to a recording booth This is at a place called the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic They’ve actually changed their name to Learning Ally And it’s a place where volunteers can go

and literally sit in a recording booth and read a book And it’s professionally recorded and then given to, for free, to people who are blind and visually impaired The issue with this process, like Braille, is it’s very time consuming and it can be, it costs money on the production end It doesn’t cost any money for the person who’s blind or visually impaired receiving it But it does take time and if you’re a student who’s waiting for a textbook and you put in your request on the first day of school, for Braille, you might get your book by the end of the semester, maybe by the end of the year, which means it’s completely useless If there’s not already a copy of it available, which there usually isn’t An audio book may take several weeks for someone to record, you know, three, four hundred page textbook But there’s other solutions Oh, and I was just going to mention testing When you’re in exam environment, you could have a live reader come in and read to what’s on the screen and depending on what your accommodation is, they can even submit the answers for you as well But what if you want to pay your bills? You don’t want to have necessarily someone you don’t know reading and plugging in information into a website for you You’re not going to get an audio book for your bill pay app You’re not going to get this in Braille It’s a website And NCAM and other organizations that we work with in assistive technology and in accessibility in general, more and more are using this slogan that’s up at the top Born digital, born accessible Meaning if content is created digitally and even books, right? Before it even becomes a paper book, it’s written on a computer It goes through a production process that’s completely digitized The last step in the entire bookmaking process is to turn it into a piece of paper Every book is born digitally Every website is born digitally And it must be made accessible from the get-go And why not? How would a person who is blind access this webpage? Anybody? There’s technology called a screen reader, OK We’ve probably heard of Dragon Naturally Speaking, right? So that’s audio to text Screen reader’s the opposite It’s text to audio, right So here are four major products: JAWS, which stands for Job Access With Speech It’s been around for about 20 years It’s very good, it’s also very expensive There’s another product called Window Eyes and there’s some interesting new one called NVDA, which is open-source and is quickly, and it’s free So people love it and it’s overtaking these other two And does anybody have an iPhone? Anybody have an iPod? Of some sort or another? So you all have screen readers on your iPhones, on your iPods on any Mac OS or IOS device Comes with a built-in screen reader called VoiceOver And it has been amazing Imagine if you’re blind, the transformation once Apple came out with this screen reading technology to watch people who are completely blind go from using specialized assistive technology with Braille on it to flip phones with actual buttons you can feel to a glass screen with one button And the way it works, with Macs anyway, or with iPhones is that you either use one finger, two fingers, three fingers and you tap or you swipe in different directions and you can control your entire phone Make phone calls, read your email, browse the Web, all of those things It’s pretty astonishing And the fact that it’s built-in So how does that work, right? It’s not, the screen reader doesn’t just read the text that’s on the screen, but it actually interacts with whatever application you’re using, including a web browser When it’s working with a web browser, the screen readers read all of the text and also all of the underlying code So it can summarize what’s on the screen for you, including its headers and links and tables Here’s a better visual illustration We like to say that using a screen reader on a webpage is like looking at the webpage through a straw, all right Because what we see at a glance, the overall site, everything that’s on there Let’s go back to this You see that there’s tabs and headers up top There’s general navigation There’s a whole list of things over here and then there’s multiple columns of what you want And what do you do? You scan it real quick. You ignore everything on the side, unless you know that it’s there and you look in the main area for what you want But if you’re using a screen reader, you can only see a little tiny bit at a time And what do we have here?

An old click wheel iPod and a plug But what we’re really looking at is this picture of Steve Jobs, it’s made up of old Apple technology But you would have, it would have taken you a long time to look through and put that together, right? And that’s what browsing the Web is like for someone who’s blind or visually impaired unless the HTLM and the underlying markup is done properly And there’s standards all out there to do it this way So here is a website you should all be familiar with And here is a website that’s done properly So you can imagine the navigation, the links, all of these things The screen reader can find these and tell you what they mean and where they’re going to send you And it can read all of this text This is easy for a screen reader to do If it’s not properly marked up, unfortunately a screen reader might read across and go right to here and not differentiate between this column and others, but that’s an easy fix So thankfully this, your website here for this program is very well done Except for these two images up top There’s no algorithm that can deal with those A screen reader sees those and says, literally will say image And so that is missing information for someone who’s blind or visually impaired However, there is a way in the code to create an image alternative And it’s actually a requirement Remember, that IDEA and 508 requirements? You’re required to make these images accessible through a text alternative And here we have converted, well, I haven’t done it Whoever created your webpage wrote descriptions Child and clinician working in a pool Child with clinicians working on a balance beam And here it is altogether So when you have something that’s properly marked up, this is the experience that someone who’s blind or visually impaired has It’s an equivalent experience to someone who can see Now, this is not earth shattering when you’re looking at a basic website When you are in an education environment and all your materials are provided digitally, you can imagine that all of those images have to be made accessible for someone who’s blind or visually impaired or they’re going to miss out on half of the subject matter in the book If you look under the hood, if anybody here’s a coder, this is where they exist In the ALT text That’s what they look like How many people have heard screen reader work or know somebody who’s blind or visually impaired uses one? One person, great So I will go ahead and play a little demonstration And I’ll also show some of the power of what the screen reader does, which is much more than just play the text on the screen So we’ll see a webpage It’ll take a little use, a little, few seconds to get used to this robotic voice, because it’s an electronic voice It’s going to read down this left-hand column and it’s going to tell you when something’s a title, a header And there’s going to be image description of the little images >> Heading level one: three musical instruments Heading level two: viola The viola is a stringed instrument that is played with a bow It looks like a violin, but is larger and has a deeper tone Graphic A: viola viewed from the front and the side, Heading level two: piano The piano is larger than a piccolo, but smaller than an organ Pianos are classified are percussion instruments Graphic: A grand piano. Heading level two: Accordian The accordion is a bellows instrument Accordions come in many sizes and can weigh up to 30 pounds Graphic: A piano accordion >> So, as you can see, using a screen reader is a specialized skill, especially to listen to that voice And you heard some interesting things, which was heading levels So you can actually navigate If you didn’t want to hear all of that text and you were just looking for information on an accordion, you could hear three musical instruments, viola, hit a key Piano, hit a key Accordion, OK That’s what I’m looking for So again, this is a tiny bit of information Imagine a giant textbook or a website Now we’ll see, this is going to basically be the experience of someone who wants to move through a data table And you’ll notice that they’re not just going to go right to left, top to bottom >> Having level three comparing three musical instruments Table with four rows and five columns Row one, column one instrument Row two viola Row three piano Keys column three, yes. Buttons column two, no Strings column four, yes. Reeds column four, no

>> So you can move around independently You have this sort of ability to read the information as you want it And I’m going to play you quickly an audio That was slowed down to a ridiculous level so that on a Saturday morning we could all understand what the screen reader was reading This is how someone who uses a screen reader every day plays it at about this speed >> [Inaudible] >> That’s no joke I worked with a guy who was blind when I first came to WGBH That’s how he read all of his email, that’s how he read all of his documents for work It took me about two months and then I could understand his email and then I started reading it back to him and then he shut his door And that’s how he read his mail for the rest of the time that we worked together He’s now Vice President with Comcast, actually, working on their accessibility So I mentioned education and photos of clinicians working with students is one thing What about the big meaty stuff, right? This is, these are the types of images that you encounter all the time in all of your various disciplines You could put political maps in here You can put chemical, we have a chemical equation up here All kinds of stuff How do you make these accessible for someone who’s blind or visually impaired? This is where it gets pretty, pretty interesting, pretty difficult and requires a lot of research Luckily, NCAM has been involved in really field, original field research in doing just this Both funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, in creating best practices and guidelines for making images like this in education accessible for students with disabilities And we’ve worked with really amazing people Amy Bower is, I could go, I could do a full hour just on astonishing people with visual disabilities who are incredibly successful in careers you wouldn’t really expect And these are folks we get to work with pretty regularly This is Amy Bower She started losing her sight in graduate school and now she works at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Research Laboratory mapping the ocean floor And Cary Supalo was born without sight at all and he went through to get his PhD He’s now a chemistry professor and an entrepreneur He runs his own chemistry-based business And as I said, it’s, the way that our research often works, because 60,000 blind students, right It’s a tiny number But it’s an important population because the solutions that we develop for people who are blind and visually impaired, as we’ve seen, can extend to a much wider unanticipated audience And so the way that we do a lot of research is to take people like Cary and really work with them to find out how did you make it through graduate school? How did you become a successful entrepreneur and professor? What are the techniques, cheats, work-arounds? How did you manage to get through an entirely visual-based world to the level of success, educationally and professionally that you are? And we work very specifically on how did you work with textbooks? How did you work with the Web? How did you work in all of these visual medium that are presented to you every day? Then we take those and we compare them with other people who are blind and visually impaired and we try to reverse engineer them into something that can be applicable for a much larger population These are the super stars that we work with That’s what we call them And so for those complicated images, this is essentially what we do We develop techniques for taking complex visual information and translating it, if you will, into either text or data tables using navigation like bullet pointed lists or data table and you know, really having an approach based on four different important baseline factors Which is brevity; don’t make it any longer than it needs to be Clarity; you have to be able to read it once and understand it Organize it well and make sure somebody can navigate it independently with a screen reader And I think Rachel said in my introduction we’ve trained thousands of organizations, lots of name brands that you’ve heard of, both in the technology and other fields, universities and colleges, K-12, both K-12 schools and administrations and textbook publishers and all those kinds of folks One of the new areas that we’re working on

and have been doing research in for about five years and have really started working on in terms of production for about the last eighteen months or so are exams So has any, some of you have at least taken an old pencil and bubble test, right? Hands So they still exist, they’re still out there But mostly everything is moving online where you take your exams and there’s really three different kinds that we’re looking at: K-12 assessments like the MCAS or others, college and grad school entrance exams and then professional certification And they’re all moving online, right? And so this is what, we like to say that when technology shifts, that both closes door to people with disabilities, but it also opens up opportunities And this access and inclusion statement is just that If you can create, if a door has closed and you’ve moved from a pencil and bubble test where you had various accommodations that you could, that existed for people with disabilities and now you’ve moved it online, if you make it accessible, you’re including that population So here we have a whole bunch of students who are all working on computers Some of them may be listening to music Some of them may be listening to their screen reader They don’t have to go into a separate room with a separate teacher or a reader to have the test read to them They can use technology to be in the same classroom with their friends Access also equals inclusion when you leave school It means that you can find a job If you’re job materials, if the work is available to you through access and having a job, employment reaps all sorts of benefits, not only a paycheck but inclusion in society and other things So it’s one of those social mandate reasons for making everything accessible I’ll stick with exams just for a moment or assessments By making an assessment fully accessible, you can do lots of things and actually once again, unintended benefits for unintended audiences Here’s a graphic that you might find on a test, right? What if you just need glasses? Or the screen is too small? If it’s accessible, it means you’d be able to magnify it really easily Or what if you have trouble differentiating between different shades of grey and black and white? You can make a high contrast image and all that can be written right into the code and if you need it, you can see it that way If you don’t need it, you don’t need to see it that way You can get into some interesting other options for people who are blind or visually impaired You have a piece of hardware that produces Braille, it’s literally a line of raised dots that comes up You can read one line of Braille Then it sinks down You read the next line of Braille without having to produce hundreds and hundreds of pages of paper Braille You can create a raised line diagram version of the tactile image And all of that can exist in one digital test and those accommodations can just come out when you need them And of course, as I mentioned earlier, image description; you can have a text alternative for any image that is in the exam or the textbook But when you’re working in a test, there’s things you have to think about that you don’t have to think about when you’re just doing instruction And that is not giving away the answer, right So that’s one of the most challenging things about this new field that we’re working in, accessible exams Here’s a bug Of a creature And if you looked at it you would say, it’s a tick And that would be your alt-text Except if you read the question and answer choices, you’ve just given away the answer So now there’s a whole ‘nother thought process that has to go on in making this simple little image of a tick accessible for someone who’s blind or visually impaired You have to not give away the answer and you also have to use language that ‘s appropriate You don’t, you can’t use language that’s too difficult or too technical This is probably for, you know, a fourth grader So how do you do that? Well, you have to go back and learn your fourth grade biology You have to know what the students have to know And so this is how we, this is how we train out staff and our alt-text writers are content editors how to do this They have to go back and they have to look at the standards They have to look at the content that the student’s supposed to know So ticks are arachnids Did anybody know that? They’re actually related to spiders One person did; there’s our biology major, OK With eight legs and a hard outer body They do not have antennae or wings Beetles, which is one of the other answer choices are insects with six legs and they have antennae and hardened outer wings

So now we can craft a description that’s appropriate for what, for what the test is teaching and give you the terminology that they use in assessment world, exam world that’s called not violating the construct The construct is that which is being tested And you’re not violating it if you come up with something like this An animal with a hard outer body and eight legs, because that’s what a student’s supposed to know They’re supposed to be able to identity the animal by whether or not it has wings, how the body’s hard or soft and how many legs it has So now the student can answer the question and has what we call an equivalent experience to the student who has vision But there’s so much more Now, there’s different ways to create, or different accommodations and I’ll just go over some of them briefly We have, again, a raised line diagram, but what is one of the issues with this diagram? We spoke about it earlier for students who are, say visually impaired How are the axis labeled? In Braille, right? So one-tenth of students are able to read that So often when someone’s required to make something accessible, they do a mental little checkbox, which is, oh, accessible, right That means Braille But Braille is not the only solution It’s not even necessarily the best solution, because of the small population of people who really read Braille So while the raised line version of the diagram might work very well, you still have to provide tech support or audio support to describe what the labels are Audio tactiles are something that uses a variety of technology and techniques to provide a richer experience Here a student is feeling a tactile version of an image and then pressing on a product called a tactile tablet and then getting audio feedback from the computer And here it is all shrunk down into a pen that actually has about 12 billion audio files inside of it And when you find the element in this periodic table example that’s up here, you click on it and you hear what the element is and then you can continue to hit the same element and drill down and hear more and more complex information about that element And there’s manipulatives Students who are blind or visually impaired often use manipulatives Obviously it’s a tactile learning You have ball and stick manipulatives for students who are learning chemistry These rubberized, I know, a little gross before breakfast for some of you, but human body stuff And this great because you have some texture, you have placement, you have relative size You know, the heart is smaller than the lungs Someone who’s describing an image isn’t necessarily going to say the heart is smaller than the lungs and you may go through your entire grade school, college education without knowing that, if you’ve never, if you’re blind And never having seen one of, or felt one of these manipulatives There’s lots of, there’s lots of concepts that are reinforced visually over and over and over again like Texas and California are really big states Every map you ever look at is reinforced over and over again If you’ve never seen a map, you have to actually know that And wiki-sticks Anybody who works with, typically who works with students who are blind has wiki-sticks because you can create anything very quickly They’re just these little waxy rubberized sticks And here’s a real-world example of manipulatives We worked on a project with Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA a few years ago, where we were taking online curriculum and making it accessible for students at Perkins who were visually impaired or blind And here’s one. It’s really simple It’s a, you take the food items, you click on it and you drag it over to the proper shelf with the proper category, whether it’s flowers, leaves, seeds or stems, right And we’re trying to figure out, OK, can you do this with audio feedback? With the screen reader You could, but it wasn’t that great It wasn’t that interesting So the teachers decided why don’t we just actually get some roots and some fruit and some leaves and some flowers and get Braille labels? And pull it right off of the computer and put it on the table so students can do it that way They learn the same concepts, except it’s totally tactile and I would argue that there’s probably lots of first and second graders who are not blind or visually impaired who would prefer to get into the dirt and actually feel the real plant parts rather than working on a computer here

Moving the other way, there’s 3-D printers 3-D printing is relatively new to the scene It’s getting cheaper and easier to create 3-D objects very quickly You can imagine a day where you are at an exam and you have a student who’s blind or visually impaired and requires a 3-D model of something really quickly That can, those files can be attached to the test and you can print it out There’s also problems with 3-D models and some of them are similar to the raised line diagrams, which is what is this? What’s the context of this model? What am I actually looking at? Moving a little further into the future, there’s Haptic technology You know, a glove or you see a little representation of it here where you can, you’re getting, there’s nothing there obviously, but he’s having this tactile sensation of, through feedback in the gloves of rubbing a nose I don’t know what application you would use rubbing a nose for, but whatever But you could imagine wanting to do practice, doing brain surgery on a hologram of a brain using tactile feedback, than your first time getting in an operating room and actually doing an operation It’s like landing a plane You want to use a simulator before you do it for real But moving back into today, you know, those are future technologies They exist, but they’re not there yet There’s something that we call smart images that use the available technology, the vibrating motors underneath your tablets that can actually provide enough sensation that you could move through a map and feel the borders And then you could get audio feedback to say, oh, this is Texas And then you can click in and whether this is as political map, whether this is a map of influenza outbreaks in the United States Whatever it might be, weather map You can get the information, you get tactile feedback through the rotary motors and the vibrations and then you can get audio feedback as well And again, this can be helpful for someone who just learns in a different way rather than purely visual So that’s it for me today Thank you very much I’m here for another five minutes for questions, but I want to thank you all for coming and sitting through an hour and learning about what we do over at WGBH Thank you [Applause] >> We have just two minutes but we can open it for questions if you like >> You mentioned the screen readers for cell phones, but I’m curious with apps like Instagram and Facebook and Snapchat, do people with visual disabilities use those and can they be made accessible automatically? >> OK. So, no Like I said, there’s no, there’s no, there’s no way to automatically do that However, I will tell you a slightly fascinating and potentially creepy thing that Facebook is doing Surprise, right? No, I won’t, I won’t say anything bad about Facebook, but I recently saw a presentation where instead of hiring people to describe the images that were on there for someone who’s blind or visually impaired, it’s taking all of the meta-data about the image So it knows where the image, say you’re standing outside, let’s go with the Eiffel Tower So without seeing the image and of course we know there’s facial recognition software, right? So it’s going to know who’s in the picture The Eiffel Tower, it’s actually going to have recognition to know that it’s the Eiffel Tower, but it also knows the coordinates of where the picture was taken It can go to those coordinates and look at everybody else who has ever taken a picture at that spot through Facebook and start to put together through the comments that people have written and things that you’ve written about, and create an image description through all of the information that you’ve provided and others have provided for that So that’s a service that, a service, they’re considering putting up for So that’s one example of using what we call meta-data to provide an image description automatically Yeah There you go And those apps typically are not, accessibility is not the first thing on their minds, but it should be Because social media is real It’s not going anywhere and as we like to say, people who are blind and visually impaired eat at restaurants, they go to museums, they go to schools They also use social media So it should be easier to use >> I think we’re, we should wrap it up [Inaudible] because a lot of you are new this semester If you’ve been to our website, hopefully you have and if not, check it out We take each of our presenters here on Saturday morning and within just a few days this whole presentation will be on our website

You can check it out whenever you wish Anything about it Because you’ll be graduating in a few years and you might be out in Kalamazoo or up in Alaska someplace, teaching or maybe working And as long as you’re connected back here to Bridgewater and clinic you’ll be able to get topics like this and you may not remember all that you saw this morning In fact, we were overwhelmed by all they do and Bryan But it’s great information It’s cutting edge, but that’s what this presentation is for It’s for you guys to at least see it initially and then go back to it and take out little snippet here or there that might fit into your work someday, right So take a look at the website and see how that plays Well, yeah Do that left-hand bar, go to the archives of these presentations Rachel, I’m going to turn it back to you >> We’d like to thank you for coming today, Bryan. On behalf of CPDC, here is a clinic t-shirt >> Oh, thank you so much