One of PVCC's Hidden Treasures

Debra Grieder and Student Don Knowles

After retiring from a 30 year career teaching math the Arizona public school system, Debra Grieder began work at Paradise Valley Community College as an adjunct instructor in the math department.

Days before the beginning of the 2017 fall semester, Debra learned that she would have a totally blind student in one of her classes. She also learned that the student’s text reader was unable to read math symbols. Debbie’s commitment to find methods that would allow her student to successfully learn the course’s required competencies, coupled with the hard work and dedication of the student, Don Knowles, resulted in Debra’s nomination for a PVCC Hidden Treasure award.

Debra’s work was recognized at the Fall 2017 Adjunct Faculty Appreciation Luncheon. Debra’s work serves to challenge all educators to continually find new ways to engage and make content meaningful and accessible for all students. Thank you, Debra and Don for an inspirational testimonial.

Math Instructor Debra Grieder

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Accessibilty Information

What is Accessibility?

Accessibility involves two key issues: how users with disabilities access electronic information and how web content designers and developers enable web pages to function with assistive devices used by individuals with disabilities. For the user with a disability, the challenge is to identify tools that provide the most convenient access to web-based and other electronic information. For the web content designer/developer, the challenge is to remove the obstacles that prevent accessibility tools from functioning effectively. In many cases, these challenges are relatively simple to overcome, but sometimes the solutions require some additional thought and effort.

A 1997 report by the U.S. Census Bureau categorizes 19.6% of the U.S. population as having some sort of disability. Within that group are individuals with visual, hearing, cognitive, and motor impairments. Each category includes a much wider range of conditions. For example, visual impairments include limited vision, color blindness, and blindness. Disability categories can also include temporary disabilities; for example, someone with a broken wrist may have difficulty using a mouse but still needs access to the web to meet day-to-day job requirements.

At the same time, statistics about individuals with disabilities may be misleading. As people get older, most face a disability of some kind. While nearly 20% of the total U.S. population has a disability, as the population ages, the proportion of people with disabilities grows (see Table 1). In fact, almost 75% of the population over 80 years old has a disability. Thus, accessibility is not just about opening doors — it is about keeping them open. Accessibility allows people to maintain a level of independence that age would likely otherwise make difficult.

Accessibilty is the Law for Many Instiutions

With new national requirements in the United States, Canada, and the European Union, and more to come in the near future, there are numerous legal mandates for accessibility. These policies will likely expand in scope. In the United States, for instance, Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act sets standards for web pages designed or maintained by federal agencies. State and local governments as well as educational and nonprofit institutions around the United States are considering their own accessibility policies. For example, the University of Wisconsin at Madison adopted an Accessibility Policy requiring all pages published or hosted by the university to conform to all WCAG Priority One and Two checkpoints.

Accessibility Uses Innovative Technology

Accessible design is based on the premise that web pages must work with a broader range of browsers than only Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer. A page must be accessible whether using a screen reader, a refreshable braille display, or a head pointer. Making pages work in nonstandard browsers often makes them available to other consumer Internet devices, such as mobile phones or handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs). The techniques of accessibility are based on recent technologies and design strategies. Older, static HTML designs often intermix content with formatting on web pages. Accessibility guidelines encourage the separation of formatting from content through the use of cascading style sheets (CSS) to allow more flexible use of content and easier implementation of more powerful dynamic models.

- Cited from Adobe (Accessibility Information)

Accessibility Resources

Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality. Here are some resources we hope will help you in creating accessible materials and online course guidelines for all your instructional needs.

Online Accessibility Resources

20 Tips for Teaching an Accessible Online Course

Portland Community College- Accessibility in Online Courses

6 Great Accessibility Resources for Improving Your Online Course

Addressing Accessibility in Online Education: California Community Colleges