Artifact 1: Accessible Lecture Slides
I re-worked a portion of the professor's lecture slides to meet the accessibility guidelines for in-class visual learning and for reviewing content using a PDF or screen reader. The original slides used a lot of copied and pasted information from websites (with credit given) that contained either too-small or serif fonts. These looked busy on the lecture slide, and malfunction when passed through a screen reader. There was also a lot of clip art, which isn't visually exciting. My main goals were to streamline the look of the slides, use a uniform font, and provide alt text for all the images.
To streamline the look of the slides, I started new slides from scratch, using a pre-set layout, which works better for screen readers. I re-typed in the information that had been copied and pasted in a sans serif font (Helvetica), and found new images to replace any that were blurry or hard to see. Some images I re-used from the old lecture, and some I found online. I recently discovered that it’s possible to filter Google image search queries to only return images that are labeled for reuse, and I used this search filter to find simple images I could integrate into the slides. I used the "format picture" function to provide alt text for all the images. A major component of the slides was a conceptual diagram that was referred back to several times. It consisted of a 2x2 grid with different boxes filled in at different points in the lecture. This was difficult to make accessible, because I had built the diagram by putting together different shapes and text boxes. I tried saving the diagram as an image in PowerPoint, but it would lose formatting features when I inserted the image back in the text. I ended up making a new slide with just the diagram on it and saving that as a PDF, then inserting the PDF back into the main slides. I had to go back through the slides and re-order all of the objects, so that the screen reader would read in the correct order. In the future, it would be better to know beforehand what formats are and are not compatible with a screen reader so I would only have to make a single image.
To assess student interaction with the new slides, I wrote a short survey that students filled out after the portion of lecture was finished. I asked them to rate the visual clarity and ease of following the slides from 1 to 5, asked about the amount of text on the slides, and some information about interacting with the PDF version of the slides the professor posted online after lecture. I asked whether they plan to look at the PDF and if so, whether they plan to use the screen reader. I left another space for students to write any additional information. I scored all 4s and 5s on the clarity and ease of following survey items, and most students reported they thought there was the right amount of information on the slides. A few students thought there was not enough text on the slides. Most students were planning to look at the PDF, and a few indicated they were going to use the image captions. Interestingly, a got a lot of comments saying the font I used was too "boring" or "basic".
The experience will be really helpful for the next time I make accessible lecture slides, because I'll be able to anticipate these issues before they come up. Specifically, I'll want to find an efficient way of making conceptual diagrams, as I use them a lot in my teaching. I'll also make sure changes to the file don't include loss of formatting, and check the slides before presenting to an audience