Evolution – Accessibility Update

One of the more important presentations given at the 2013 University of Wyoming Evolution Conference was by members of the University Disability Support Services (UDSS)staff. Chris Primus, Casey Wood, and Brynn Elliott talked about the importance of making digital resources accessible. They stressed the importance of planning for accessible resources before they were needed. They focused on four areas: video captioning, Universal Design for Learning, disabilities support statement for syllabi, and PDF documents.


Videos should include captioning whenever possible, and professors should not rely on auto-captioning that YouTube provides. Although, YouTube can provide up to 90% accurate captioning, the staff asked “which 10% would you like to remove from your lecture.” Also, in the case of video, all students can benefit from the transcriptions and captioning.

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning is a strategies for curriculum design that will give everyone an equal opportunity to learn. When building course curriculum, we need to attend to different learning styles and challenges. You can find more information about UDL at:

Disabilities Support Statement

During the presentation, UDSS encourage faculty to place a statement in their syllabi encouraging disabilities support. Here is that statement:

If you have a physical, learning, sensory or psychological disability and require accommodations, please let me know as soon as possible. You will need to register with, and possibly provide documentation of your disability to University Disability Support Services (UDSS) in SEO, room 109 Knight Hall. You may also contact UDSS at (307) 766-6189 or udss@uwyo.edu. Visit their website for more information: www.uwyo.edu/udss

PDF Document Support

The UDSS also talked about the challenges when working with PDF documents. It is important to ensure PDF documents are accessible. Adobe provides an informative guide on this topic.  According to Accessing PDF Documents with Assistive Technology, an accessible document must have five characteristics:

  • A logical structure and reading order
  • Alternate text descriptions for figures, form fields, and links
  • Navigational aids
  • Security that doesn’t interfere with assistive technology
  • Fonts that allow characters to be extracted to text

Here are some keyboard command shared for testing and machine reading a document:

  • Ctrl+Shift+5 – Change reading settings for the current document
  • Ctrl+Shift+6 – Quick check tool
  • Ctrl+Shift+V – Read only the current page out loud
  • Ctrl+Shift+Y – Activate and deactivate read out loud

This was an informative presentation, and the bottom line is that we need to be more inclusive in our instruction.  With returning veterans, many may not even be aware that they have a disability and not have the experience to address the disability.