AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

TAG | accessibility

Greetings! Caitlyn A. Bukaty here sharing some exciting insights with you during Disabilities and Underrepresented Populations Topical Interest Group week.

Today I want to offer a few ideas my fellow evaluators might find helpful in making their evaluations more accessible to a wide range of stakeholders. This information comes from my experience collecting feedback from young adults with intellectual disabilities who participated in a workplace problem-solving intervention, but one of my favorite features of these techniques is how helpful they are to a wide range of stakeholders! This concept is known as Universal Design, and the premise is that an option you might offer to one groups of stakeholders, for example those who have difficulty reading, actually makes accessing your evaluation materials easier for other groups, such as stakeholders for whom English is not their first language, or those with visual impairments.

Without further ado, let’s explore some ideas to help your evaluations reach for the stars in terms of accessibility!

Hot Tips:

  •  Add pictures – A well-connected photo can help stakeholders link a question to a certain event, or clarify a response.

In this example, a series of question are linked to a certain part of the intervention using a picture of the person with whom participants interacted:

Example 1

Here responses are clarified with “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” symbols

Example 2 Thumbs up

 

 

  • Go digital – Offering traditionally “print” materials in digital format opens up a universe of accessibility for stakeholders. Users can access screen reader software, text-to-speech features, and even translation applications to better understand the material. This is even more effective if materials are offered on a mobile friendly platform, mobile web access is widely reported as overtaking desktop computer use.
  • Be all ears – Prepare to accept responses from your stakeholders in a variety of creative ways. Offering stakeholders multiple options for response may mean gathering responses from those who would not have been able to participate via a single mode of response. Written or typed responses to forced choice and open ended questions may be traditional, but what if someone wants to dictate a response…can you make a scribe available in person or via telephone to support his or her participation? How about a participant wishing to record a response? This can be achieved via a voice or video recorder on many mobile devices. Depending on the question a pictorial response, such as indicating time spent on a circle graph, might even encourage respondents to participate.

Rad Resources:

  • Creative Commons Zero (CC0) Imagery – This is the name given to images free from copyrighting. In addition to taking or requesting photos specific to the topic of your evaluation there are resources linking you directly to CCO images such as Pixabay and Unsplash. Web search platforms, such as Google Images also allow you to specify reuse policies during an imae search.
  • Web-based Survey Platforms – These are useful for creating digital surveys or questionaires. Many are mobile friendly, and several platform offer free features or use. Try SurveyMonkey, SurveyGizmo, QuestionPro, or Google Forms.

Lesson Learned:

  • The idea behind today’s post is to maximize stakeholder participation by inviting them to take part in an evaluation in whatever way is most convenient and effective. To learn more about universal design geared towards materials development and response check out the Universal Design for Learning materials offered through CAST.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting the Disabilities and Underrepresented Populations TIG (DUP) Week. The contributions all week are focused on engaging DUP in your evaluation efforts. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Greetings! We are Della Thomas and Marcia Kolvitz. Della works with local school districts to providing language access services to students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Marcia is an educational consultant who focuses on professional development in the areas of transition planning and postsecondary opportunities for students and youth who are deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH). Both of us have worked with a large-scale initiative to support collaborative activities that engage stakeholders from across the United States to address issues in deaf education. Our participants represented a variety of stakeholder groups, and many of them were D/HH. We’ve considered ways to ensure that our diverse group of participants have the opportunity to participate in these collaborative activities equally. Additionally, as travel funds become scarce and stakeholders’ schedules become busier, we’ve supplemented face-to-face meetings with technology use as a means of building community and supporting team activities.

Lessons Learned:

  • Open captions during presentations benefit everyone. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services are considered an accommodation for participants who are D/HH. However, background noise can make it difficult for other participants to hear the speaker, and some participants may find their attention wandering. The use of CART captions is a good example of Universal Design during a conference.
  • Telephone communication doesn’t always work. Participants who are D/HH may request sign language interpreters during teleconferences to facilitate communication among team members. A simple way to provide this is by using videoconferencing for all participants. Not only does this include the D/HH member, but the non-verbal cues such as facial expressions or body language can provide all participants with additional information.
  • Use a professional for important event (aka evaluation). The standard for a CART provider using a steno keyboard is a minimum of 180 words per minute (wpm) and an accuracy rate of 96%.

Although these lessons learned came as the result of planning large-scale interagency collaborative activities, their value extends beyond individuals with hearing loss. Enhancing large group presentations via CART and small group meetings via videoconferencing will not only provide greater linguistic access for participants, but will send a message of inclusivity for all.

Rad Resources:

RIT Job Board

RIT Job Board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Want to add captions yourself?  Try MAGPie free software for adding captions and video descriptions to QuickTime, Windows Media, Real and Flash multimedia.
MAGpie2

Media Access Generator – MAGpie2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The American Evaluation Association is hosting the Disabilities and Underrepresented Populations TIG (DUP) Week. The contributions all week are focused on engaging DUP in your evaluation efforts. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Happy Saturday all!  Liz Zadnik here, aea365 Outreach Coordinator and sometime Saturday contributor.  Summer has arrived on the East Coast of the United States.  For me, summer has always encouraged me to check in with myself and take some time to reorganize and recalibrate.  Like time slows down a little and I have few more minutes each day.  

Lately I’ve been spending some time paying close attention to the words folks use when sharing ideas.  As a former English major, I appreciate words.  In fact, you could say I love them.  They carry power and potential – to connect or disconnect, affirm or harm.  There are so many colloquialisms with roots in oppression and inequity.  We’re not used to thinking about words in this way because that’s how norms work.  But when we take the time to be a little more mindful, we can challenge those norms and create spaces for meaningful collaboration.

Hot Tip: Exercise creativity and thoughtfulness when crafting titles, tweets, and tables. (I needed to alliterate there). Do we have to use “walk” when “travel,” “move,” or “journey” work well too?  I was perusing some workshop titles recently and saw a surprising amount of limiting language: “…walking together,” “One step at a time…,” and “Listening Session.”  I understand the intent of these choices, but that doesn’t minimize the hurtful consequences.   

Lesson Learned: Hold yourself to a higher standard, but also be patient when you slip up.  Recently I’ve noticed myself using “guys” to refer to groups of people.  I try to use “folks” or “friends” when I’m training or writing – something I learned along the way to learning to be an ally.  I slip up and then try again! 

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hello. I am Angie Aguirre from the INDEX program of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. INDEX specializes in designing web sites, online courses, learning-management systems, and online databases, all of which are accessible to people with disabilities. Many of you are developing the same as part of your evaluation efforts. At INDEX, accessibility comes first! Since my colleagues and I have concentrated on accessibility issues in a previous blog (see here), I’m continuing here with that theme!

Webinars enable you to present, lecture, or deliver a workshop over the web. Webinars incorporate audio and visual elements, and can sometimes include audience interaction. It can’t be asked too often what makes your webinar accessible? It also can’t be said enough that accessibility promotes a culture of inclusion, as well as supports people with disabilities. The more people we can bring to the table, the better our evaluation efforts and the better we become as a society. Moreover, it’s the law!

Depending on what kind of webinar you’re providing and your audience, you should ask participants at registration if accommodations are needed.

Hot Tips: Choosing the Right Platform

Several features are needed for a webinar platform to be accessible. Be sure to look for:

  • integrated captioning;
  • screen reader compatibility; and
  • multiple ways of communicating with and engaging participants.

Providing Accommodations

  • For Auditory
    • Use Remote CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation). It is a service in which a certified CART provider listens to the webinar presenter and participants, and instantaneously translates all the speech to text. Most CART services are familiar with various types of webinar platforms, and can walk you through set-up.
    • If you are showing a video, be sure you provide captions.
  • For Visual
    • Webinar platform controls should be able to be accessed using keyboard commands.
    • All content should be readable by a screen reader, including the text content of a PowerPoint slide.
    • Provide accessible copies of the entire presentation, including handouts, before the webinar. This enables webinar participants to review the information ahead of time so they can focus on listening to the presenters.
  • For Cognitive
    • Provide a way for participants to respond verbally by phone/microphone, or by typing in a chat pod.
    • Participants should have ability to:
      • use the caption pod and adjust it to their liking;
      • listen to the recorded content at a later time;
      • control the speed of the content that is being delivered; and
      • (presenters/moderators may need to slow down a bit).

Rad Resources:

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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What a way to wrap up July!  Liz Zadnik here with some additional thoughts on accessibility – specifically how we can create learning opportunities that are inclusive and accessible to as many people as possible.

We’re often tasked with sharing our research and evaluation findings with others – how can we make sure as many people as possible can engage with the content?  Universal design is a research- and science-based set of principles that guide the creation of physical environments and products in an accessible and equitable way.  These principles can guide the construction of buildings, as well as curricula (which is what we’ll focus on today).

Lesson Learned: Learning happens in multiple ways and different parts of the human brain.  Effective learning environments acknowledge and create opportunities for all of these different parts and processes to engage with the content or activities:

  1. Representation, or “the what of learning,” includes language, symbols, and images that accompany content.  How a person perceives information may be influenced by ability, disability, language, culture, or learning strengths.
  2. Action and expression, or “the how of learning,” which pertains to the ways learners communicate comprehension.  When we’re thinking about providing options for action and expression is essential.  
  3. Engagement, or “the why of learning,” refers to learner motivations, actions, and internalizing of information.  Just like the other processes, this too can be influenced by many physical, emotional, and social contexts.

We may think there are a finite number of learning styles – visual, auditory, kinesthetic.  But this is only a small piece of the puzzle.  

Hot Tip: Just like alternate formats for online materials, consider other ways to represent your work.  Data visualization.  Word document files (for things that can be edited).  Colorful PDFs with graphics or texts organized in boxes.  It’s an opportunity to stretch your creative muscle and consider how people are going to absorb your content and be motivated to read it or take action.   

Rad Resource: There are a number of resources online

  • CAST offers a number of free tools based on their research projects, intended to help professionals create and support flexible learning environments.
  • The National Center on Universal Design for Learning offers guidelines in a number of formats and languages.
  • Colorado State University’s Access Project has a bunch of practical resources for professionals in higher education.  

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Happy holiday weekend everyone!  I’m Liz Zadnik, AEA365 Outreach Coordinator with another post on accessibility – today we’ll be focusing on web accessibility.  We can build off of the concepts in last month’s post, while also thinking about how to make sure as many people as possible can access our online content.

In addition to creating accessible content in publications and written resources, we must also consider how these resources will be used and retrieved when posted online.  Web accessibility helps us keep in mind how people interact with the internet – whether they use assistive technologies, have limited knowledge or comfort with the Web, have various learning styles, or any number of other considerations.

Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging. Web Accessibility Initiative

Hot Tip:  Build into your content creation time and a plan for the creation of alternate formats for video or audio files.  For example, you interview a brilliant colleague who shares a new approach to collecting data.  The interview is about 15 minutes long and you post the audio file in a blog post with some accompanying background information, as well as an accessible PDF transcript of the interview to increase accessibility for folks who may be deaf or hard-of-hearing.  You could also post a Word document formatted with Styles.

Lesson Learned: For a long time I didn’t think too much about labeling images I uploaded to sites or used in resources.  I then learned how image labels assist folks using  screen readers to effectively navigate the Web.  This is where the “alt=[your description of the image]” tag comes into play.  This image tag assists visitors using screen readers in determining what’s on the site.  So if you’re image is intended to be a link to a great resource, tag it as “New Data Collection Guide link.”  If it’s an image that supports the content, such as a bar graph sharing data from a recent reader survey, tag it as “Horizontal bar graph with six bars.  One bar, the third from the bottom, is in a different color and has a sixty-four percent label in white at the end.”

Rad Resources:

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Happy Saturday folks!  Liz Zadnik here and today we’re focusing on creating accessible content.  I am pretty passionate about accessibility – thanks to some brilliant and even more passionate colleagues – and believe as social change agents, advocates for marginalized communities, and professionals seeking to elevate unheard voices we have a commitment to making sure our good work reaches as many as possible.     

Hot Tips:

  • Make sure the background and font are highly contrasted.  The ideal is a white background and black font.  Be mindful of images and graphs as well – make sure labels and text within the graph are clearly contrasted against any color.
  • Don’t be afraid of large font size!  The days of small tight text are gone.  Keep your font size larger than or equivalent to Times New Roman at 12-point size.  It is also recommended that you adjust line spacing to about 1.15 to leave spacing not only between lines of text, but also paragraphs.  
  • Keep layout and design consistent throughout your different publications (e.g. reports, briefs, executive summaries, presentations, etc.)  Templates assist in helping readers know what to expect and support comprehension.
  • Align text along the left – avoid right-justified, justified, or centered text.  Centered text may work for titles or some headings.  Bulleted lists are also very helpful.
  • Use active and personal language, such as “we” or “you,” to help focus the reader and your writing.

Lesson Learned:  Accessibility is about more than compliance or regulations – we are trying to engage community stakeholders or organizations in meaningful ways.  Each of us bring personal strengths and challenges; there are a multitude of learning styles and abilities, reading comprehension levels, and physical abilities.  For example, I wear glasses when driving to be able to clearly see objects in the distance and read signage.  Creating accessible content removes the stress of squinting or saving the document “for later” due to the need for more time to read it.

Readability Stats CheckRad Resource: Word readability statistics helps determine content’s reading level.  Reading levels and literacy of the general public have been found to be at about the seventh- or eighth-grade levels.  Plain language is not about “dumbing down” content (a term I find incredibly offensive) – it’s about meeting people where they are and making sure information is available to everyone it can benefit.

Readability StatsRad Resource: Not only can you check the readability of content, but Adobe has an Accessibility Check function that reviews the document for high contrast, flow of document, image labels, and other elements of accessibility.  The Accessibility report offers specifics for edits and specific content to revise.     

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

I am Arnold Love from Toronto, the recent host city of the 2015 Para- and Pan American Games. Toronto also hosted the first Accessibility Innovation Showcase to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act and the 10th Anniversary of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

My evaluation interests include both sports and accessibility, so I want to share with you a powerful and enjoyable way of increasing evaluation use, called Jane’s Walk. It was a pivotal feature of the Para- and Pan Am Games and the Accessibility Showcase.

Jane’s Walk is named after Jane Jacobs, noted researcher and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Jacobs championed the use of direct observation through “eyes on the street” and direct engagement to understand the “messy and complex systems” that comprise the urban landscape and to mobilize findings into action.

Rad Resource: Jane’s Walk is an informal walking tour. Check out the Jane’s Walk website to find out how walks “get people to tell stories about their communities, explore their cities, and connect with neighbors.”

Hot Tip: Several walks take place at the same time, each on a different theme. Local volunteers organize them based on their interests and expertise. For example, one walk during the Accessibility Innovation Showcase explored ideas to make busy intersections and entry to stores more accessible.

Hot Tip: Invite people of different ages and backgrounds to participate. The informal nature of Jane’s Walk encourages each person to voice their perspectives based on unique experience and insights. This energizes the conversations.

Hot Tip: Evaluators need diverse yet balanced views of the discussion topics. Facilitate this by finding two people with different viewpoints to co-lead each walk.

Hot Tip: Taking notes shuts down the trust and free exchange of ideas that are the hallmark of the Jane’s Walk. Instead, tweet your notes to yourself and encourage the other walkers to tweet their comments and ideas or share on social media.

Rad Resource: Adding an incentive can greatly increase use of the findings coming from the Jane’s Walk methodology. Check out how Jane’s Walk partnered with Evergreen CityWorks to offer micro-grants to implement the best ideas (http://janeswalk.org/canada/toronto/grants) with little money, but big results.

Rad Resource: Change Jane’s Walk into a game by geocaching. Hide small items (toys, badges, stories) in locations that fit a specific evaluation theme, such as a coffee shop with an accessible ramp. Then log the coordinates and cache description on http://www.geocaching.com. Use the app to find the cache. Its fun!

Evaluation 2015 Challenge: Organize a few Jane’s Walks for AEA 2015. A great opportunity to experience the methodology first hand and get to know Chicago and other AEA members better.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

 

I am David J. Bernstein, and I am a Senior Study Director with Westat, an employee-owned research and evaluation company in Rockville, Maryland. I was an inaugural member of AEA, and was the founder and first Chair of the Government Evaluation Topical Interest Group.

Westat was hired by the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to conduct an evaluation of the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC). HKNC is a national rehabilitation program serving youth and adults who are deaf-blind founded by an Act of Congress in 1967, and operates under a grant from RSA, which is HKNC’s largest funding source.

The Westat evaluation was the first evaluation of HKNC in over 20 years, although HKNC submits performance measures and annual reports to RSA. RSA wanted to make sure that the evaluation included interviews with Deaf-Blind individuals who had taken vocational rehabilitation and independent living courses on the HKNC campus in Sands Point, New York. After meeting with HKNC management and teaching staff, it became clear that communication issues would be a challenge given the myriad of ways that Deaf-Blind individuals communicate. Westat and RSA agreed that in-person interviews with Deaf-Blind individuals would help keep the interviews simple, intuitive, and make sure that this critical stakeholder group was comfortable and willing to participate.

Hot Tips:

  • Make use of gatekeepers and experts-in-residence. Principle Three encourages simple and intuitive design of materials to address users’ level of experience and language skills. For the HKNC Evaluation, interview guides went through multiple reviews, including review by experts in Deaf-Blind communication not associated with HKNC. Ultimately, it was HKNC staff that provided a critical final review to simplify the instruments since HKNC was familiar with the wide variety of communication skills of their former students.
  • Plan ahead in regards to location and communication. Principle Seven calls for appropriate space to make anyone involved in data collection comfortable, including transportation accessibility and provision of interpreters, if needed. For the HKNC evaluation, interview participants were randomly selected who were within a reasonable distance of locations near HKNC regional offices. Westat worked with HKNC partners and HKNC regional representatives with whom interviewees were familiar. In the Los Angeles area, we brought the interviews to the interviewees, selecting locations that were as close as possible to where former HKNC students lived. Most importantly, Westat worked with HKNC to identify the Deaf-Blind individuals’ communication abilities and preferences, and had two interpreters on site for interviews. In one case we used a participant’s iPad with large print enabled to communicate interview questions.

Resource:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating the Disabilities and Other Vulnerable Populations TIG (DOVP) Week. The contributions all week come from DOVP members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluator.

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Hello, I am Ian Shadrick, program coordinator of graduate programs in Blindness and Low Vision and Orientation & Mobility at Missouri State University. As a follow up to some of great tips provided in Creating Presentation Potent for All, I’d like to talk to you today about some additional methods to ensure full inclusion of persons with blindness or low vision in your presentations and related evaluations. Without careful consideration, it is quite common for persons with blindness or low vision to not have the opportunity to fully participate in these environments. Additionally many individuals with low vision, or those in early stages of vision loss, may not be as obvious; or may choose not to disclose their low vision. Given this, it is important to consider ways to improve opportunities for access to information both in presentations and related evaluations.

Lessons Learned:

  • The World Health Organization reports 161 million people have a visual impairment, among them 124 million are persons with low vision, and 37 million are persons with blindness.
  • Most persons with blindness have some amount of vision, which can vary in functionality based on environment.
  • Unlike persons with blindness, many persons with low vision may present with no visible signs as someone with low vision, i.e. they do not use a cane/dog guide, and may not be using any other assistive optical devices.
  • Many factors can impact the ability for a person with low vision to fully participate in presentations and evaluations (e.g. lighting, glare, contrast, screen location/angles, etc.).

Tips for Presentations:

  • Whenever possible provide materials ahead, such as a website provided by the organization/conference.
  • When considering electronic documents, provide either Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format files, as these are most accessible to screen reading and magnification software.
  • Don’t be afraid to use tables or charts, but ensure descriptions are provided verbally and in text documents.
  • Describe graphics or photos whenever present.
  • Consider lighting when presenting, if possible leave some lights on, allowing someone the opportunity to use the light as needed.
  • If using a video, consider obtaining a descriptive video, or if not available, be prepared to provide a description yourself.

Tips for Evaluations Related to Presentations:

  • Whenever possible provide an opportunity for completion through an accessible website, such as Survey Monkey.
  • If possible provide alternative formats (large print and Braille) for hardcopy forms.
  • Consider having someone present to assist in reading and recording responses if the two previous suggestions are not an option.

Resources:

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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