Improving Accessibility in Learning: Introducing Anthology Ally & Eye-Able
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“By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, UIC aims to create an inclusive educational experience that accommodates learners from all backgrounds and abilities.”Associate CIO of Academic Technology and Learning Innovations|
Improving Accessibility in Learning: Introducing Anthology Ally & Eye-Able Heading link
In an era where aspects of education are increasingly taking place online, ensuring accessibility for all students has become of paramount concern. Recognizing this need, LTS has taken a significant step forward in enhancing the accessibility of course materials by introducing Anthology Ally and Eye-Able. These innovative applications are set to empower both instructors and students, making the learning experience within Blackboard (LMS) more inclusive and visually appealing.
Anthology Ally, set to launch during the Fall 2023 semester, was initially piloted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and its integration into the LMS will prove instrumental in creating a more accessible learning environment for students with disabilities. The application equips instructors with invaluable tools to gauge and improve the accessibility of their course materials in real-time. Upon evaluation, the instructors are provided with an accessibility score, ranging from 0 to 100, for their courses. This score, rather than imposing pressure for immediate fixes, serves as a starting point for an ongoing conversation about enhancing accessibility in the digital learning space.
Bryan Libbin, Associate CIO of Academic Technology and Learning Innovations emphasized that the intention behind the accessibility score is to encourage an iterative approach to aligning courses with the diverse needs of students. “By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, UIC aims to create an inclusive educational experience that accommodates learners from all backgrounds and abilities.”
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To complement the rollout of Anthology Ally, UIC has plans to conduct a series of training sessions for faculty and colleges interested in exploring the application’s functionality further. This proactive approach seeks to equip instructors with the skills, knowledge, and resources to seamlessly integrate accessibility into their course materials, making it second nature in their pedagogical practice.
However, the benefits of Anthology Ally extend beyond instructors, as students will also experience an array of accessibility options for their learning materials. The application enables documents to be generated in accessible formats such as tagged PDFs, mobile-friendly HTML, audio, and ePubs. Embracing the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), these multiple formats cater to diverse learning preferences and ensure that all students can engage with the course content effectively.
In addition to Anthology Ally, UIC is introducing Eye-Able, a groundbreaking application that provides real-time support for individuals with visual impairments. With Eye-Able, both instructors and students gain access to customizable visual content options, ensuring that the learning experience caters to individual needs. From font size and color adjustments to speech output preferences, this assistive technology ensures an optimal user experience for all learners.
With the launch of Anthology Ally and Eye-Able, UIC is taking a significant stride towards creating a more accessible and equitable learning landscape. Through collaborative efforts between instructors, students, and learning technology experts, these applications will facilitate a dynamic and inclusive educational experience for all, breaking down barriers and ensuring that every student can thrive academically.
For more information on how to utilize Ally and Eye-Able in your courses, please email LTS@uic.edu to set up an appointment with a staff member or you can join one of the workshops we will be offering throughout the year.