Equality News issue 1(2)/2013

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A publication of the DARe-Learning project

Issue 1 (2)/2013

In this issue: E-learning Is an Opportunity for All


Some Reflections on Internet Accessibility for Disabled Users


Is the Polish Internet Friendly for Blind Users?


Preparation of Teaching Materials Adapted to the Needs of Persons with Disabilities


Standard Audio/Video Materials Not for Everyone


Subtitles for Deaf Viewers: What Are They Exactly?


E-Textbooks Make Educational Opportunities More Equal


French-Polish E-learning Programme for Managerial Staff as Global–Scale Innovation


The Web Accessibility Journey in the UK: How Far Have We Travelled?


Editorial team: Anna Barcik, Ireneusz Białek, Marta Bylica, Joanna Dzięglewska, Dagmara Nowak-Adamczyk, Małgorzata Perdeus-Białek, Radosław Zaremba Translation: : Mikołaj Sekrecki, Dagmara Wolska and Agnieszka Ziajka-Małecka Typesetting and makeup: Marta Bylica Graphics and cover design: Przemysław Stachyra Images without captions: pp. 4-5 – prepared by Przemysław Stachyra, p. 35 – from the archive of the Jagiellonian University Centre for Distance Learning The publication based on a Creative Commons license – Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works 3.0 Poland (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 PL) Publisher: Jagiellonian University Disability Support Service ul. Retoryka 1/210, 31-108 Kraków, Poland phone: (0048) 12 424 29 50, fax: (0048) 12 424 29 52, bon@uj.edu.pl www.bon.uj.edu.pl www.DAReLearning.eu ISBN: 978-83-62600-15-1 (issue 1 (2)/2013), 978-83-62600-13-7 (issues 1-4) Free copy The electronic version available at www.DAReLearning.eu. Published under the auspices of the Minister of Administration and Digitization.

This publication is related to a project carried out with financial support of the European Commission as part of the Lifelong Learning programme. This publication reflects the views of its author only and neither the European Commission nor the National Agency shall bear any liability for its substance or the way the information contained herein may be used.

From the editor

“Equality News” (Polish original “Wiadomości o Równości”) is a series of four publications prepared by four eminent European academic centres: the Jagiellonian University of Kraków, Pierre and Marie Curie University of Paris, Charles University of Prague and Aristotle University from Thessaloniki. They all collaborate as the DARe-Learning partnership, aiming to increase the participation of disabled persons in knowledge society through their university education. The publications are designed to make the academic community more familiar with the notion of equal treatment of persons with disabilities as well as to ensure their full access to education, taking into account the consequences of disability. Understanding such an approach and familiar with the articles offered by the DARe-Learning partnership, educators have now the opportunity to considerably improve their professional qualifications and learn about solutions which will make their daily toolbox better equipped; what is more, they can develop such solutions themselves. We hope all our readers can find some inspiration in what they read here. Ireneusz Białek The Jagiellonian University of Kraków DARe-Learning project coordinator


rom the perspective of the Jagiellonian University Vice-Rector for Education the themes discussed in this issue of Equality News are some of the key challenges faced by modern universities, not only in Poland. I am glad we can engage here in a debate concerning the role of distance learning in the process of student education, particularly in terms of improving the quality of our teaching, as well as the ever better accessibility of the university education process for students with various disabilities. Thanks to such accessibility they will be able to make full use of the achievements of science, culture and academic life, even more so as technological barriers are disappearing. In this context, the disability awareness of designers of specific tools and systems is of key importance. The entire DARe-Learning project focuses on just this awareness, its refocusing and abandoning routine thinking applied until now, deeply rooted in the traditional vision of disability without considering some far-reaching changes which should make us all reflect on the immense social capital that persons with disabilities are. We are particularly responsible for the development of such capital at universities, to a large extent shaping people’s attitudes and ways of thinking. This is why I attach so much importance to projects like DARe-Learning and its specific results in the form of disability awareness training courses for academic teachers. I am pleased that the number of those willing to take part in such courses grows year on year and that in 2013 we are going to finalise Poland’s first e-learning course based on many years of our own experience in classroom-based training programmes as well as that of our European partner universities from Paris, Prague and Thessaloniki. The Jagiellonian University is consistent in its pursuit of better accessibility, broader diversity and reaching with its offer beyond the boundaries set thus far. In this way we wish to build on our glorious past, at the same time building a university of the future focusing on not just maintaining excellent quality in teaching its students but also those who because of their disabilities or belonging to other minority groups expect various kinds of support. As the awareness of teaching and administrative staff is of key importance in this process, I am glad to see, quite apart from the DAReLearning course for academic teachers developed by the Jagiellonian University’s Disability Support Service and Centre for Distance Learning, the product of the agreement concluded between Thales Group, the Jagiellonian University and the Pierre and Marie University of Paris, that is a modern training course for managerial staff. As it is much written about here, I will just limit myself to thanking our French partners for our long-standing cooperation bearing fruit in the form of this great achievement. I would like to encourage all our University staff as well as others who are interested in learning more about disability to use the course; after all, disability awareness is a major challenge for us as an academic community. Professor Andrzej Mania Jagiellonian University Vice-Rector for Education

E-learning Is an Opportunity for All Discussants: Dr Jacek Urbaniec, representative of Jagiellonian University Rector for e-learning, Ireneusz Białek, chief coordinator at the Jagiellonian University Disability Support Service, Michał Bartosik, programmer at the JU Centre for Distance Learning, Marta Bylica, promotion specialist at the JU Disability Support Service

Ireneusz Białek (IB): I would like this discussion to familiarize the readers with not just the accessibility of e-learning taking into consideration the needs of persons with disabilities but also to give some solid insights concerning e-learning per se to all those who want to know more about it. I am glad that the Jagiellonian University’s Disability Support Service and Centre for Distance Learning can work together on popularizing e-learning, with special focus on disability. I am even more pleased as we are able to do it in cooperation with some excellent European universities involved in the DARe-Learning project. Let start with the definition of e-learning. Jacek Urbaniec (JU): Some say that the beginnings of distance learning (I am going to use the terms “distance learning” and “e-learning” interchangeably) could be traced back to …the 1800s, that is correspondence courses. In this context, e-learning leads us to the notion of an open university, continuous teaching, where e-learning platforms are often used. In Europe, examples include Great Britain’s Open University or Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Barcelona. Apart from open universities, across the world, but mainly in Australia and the USA, schools have appeared that in formal-legal terms resemble the Jagiellonian University but their courses are delivered as distance learning: they are all e-courses and examinations are carried out under regulated conditions, not necessarily at university premises. Such schools are hardly to be found in Europe. The Bavarian Virtual University, an extraordinarily interesting project of Bavaria’s government and all its universities, is not a new school of higher education but rather a “mechanism” of e-course exchange between traditional universities. Students from one university can virtually attend courses delivered by some other


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Bavarian university and upon course completion there is a transfer of marks and ECTS points. In general, the dominant e-learning form in Europe is blended learning, that is some courses/classes are delivered in the traditional fashion and some in the distance mode. IB: What are the advantages of such blended learning? JU: Blended learning can greatly improve teaching quality. It contributes to the maintenance of the natural dynamics of the learning process. The student remains in touch with his/her teacher/lecturer not just once a week during the classes/lecture but practically all the time. Additionally, blended learning eliminates long breaks due, for example, to the absence of an academic teacher and other emergencies. And something of

crucial importance: e-learning makes sense only when it truly helps improve the quality of education. Some ten years ago at the Jagiellonian University we conducted a curious experiment at IT post-graduates studies. A lecture on relational databases was delivered both traditionally in the lecture room and over an e-learning platform. In other words, there were the same subject and the same teacher, but a different way of knowledge transmission. The post-graduate students were making their own choices regarding the mode of course delivery. For the e-classes the lecturer prepared e-materials divided into sections. To move on to another part, the student had to produce a brief script (a simple program, a few lines of a source code) verifying the student’s understanding of the content. And although it seemed to the teachers that the students would find the task easy, the opposite turned out to be true. The traditional lecture had long ended and the students on the e-course

The students are main beneficiaries but after all it is quality that matters most in the educational process! Let us return to making recorded lectures available on the web without any processing. Some private universities had the illusion that would be enough. Well, after a year you do not have to pay the employee for the delivery of the same lecture and instead of coming from afar to sit in the lecture room the student can sit comfortably in an armchair with a PC in his/her lap and just listen. It was forgotten, however, that passive listening of a recorded lecture is plain... boring and the attention span of distance learners is much shorter than in the lecture or class-room, particularly when a live lecture is what it should be: a live performance, an event to remember! If you are still not convinced, then I will refer to yet another example: in the prestigious American Mathematical Society a series of lectures was prepared on key issues in contemporary mathematics. Best specialists were selected as lecturers in a given field. Then the recording was put on the web in the hope of radically changing the quality of teaching mathematics. I once listened to some of these lectures and they seemed boring. Preparing good multimedia teaching materials is timeconsuming and so costly: around a hundred or even more person-hours to prepare e-materials equivalent to an hour of traditional classes/lectures. Let me repeat: what matters most is the quality of education.

still struggled with the scripts, which led to major delays. When laboratory exercises finally began, the result was extraordinary and surprising: it was not possible to make up a joint group of traditional and distance learners. The differences in knowledge acquisition between the two groups was colossal, with the students learning the content of the lecture in the distance mode much more knowledgeable. Why? Because even if we like a lecture, have a positive assessment of the teacher and it seems to us that we understand everything, all we actually do is to listen uncritically. That experiment convinced me finally that e-learning (blended learning) improves education quality and that – to use elevated language – we are on the eve of a revolution in education. Yes, employees have more work to do in order to prepare multimedia teaching materials well (because valuable e-materials are not a mechanical record of a lecture).

Mediocrity, bordering on ineptitude, does occur in traditional teaching, as it does in distance learning. What then about the features of a good e-learning (blended learning) course? E-classes require interactive multimedia e-materials enriched with self-check exercises and tests (knowledge and skill acquisition), which makes it possible to individualize teaching and team work. During e-learning courses, activities are indispensable such as moderated discussion forum, virtual classrooms (or video chats with a virtual board), exercises that are sent for checking etc. Increasingly often computer games are created for e-learning purposes. Michał Bartosik (MB): The preparation of such games is also very time-consuming as one must first write it, and then develop IT solutions on the basis of which it will work, like an engine. A ready-made engine could be used, yet it must be then adapted to specific applications. And this is just the beginning, as e-learning content must be developed as well. A game may make e-learning much more attractive as it is not a linear reality like the teaching process itself, focused on transferring successive skills and ending with a specific goal, that is a transmission of a certain portion of knowledge. The essence of good games is that by applying a tactic of their own choosing Equality News

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the user reaches a goal. And the thing is that such paths leading to the goal are as numerous as possible so that the program can adapt itself to the user’s skills. If the user goes through a game in one way, suddenly he/she notices that there are four other ways and then the game helps them practise different skills. Most games, however, are way too simple, which is a problem. Marta Bylica: What is an e-learning platform? JU: It is comprehensive software making it possible to publish e-materials, communicate with students and performing activities typical of distance learning. Currently two platforms dominate in the world: commercial Blackboard and open-source Moodle, which is predominant. IB: E-learning developed when its accessibility for disabled persons was not considered. Has anything changed?

readers by blind users makes this interface become linear. IB: It is an interesting insight. MB: The Internet, computers and software are by definition graphic tools and if the visual aspect is removed to ensure accessibility, we really begin to deal with something completely different. One can then say that in this way two different approaches to thinking about the interface appear.

Luckily, such problems were also resolved in the past, because as regards using programs or reading content by means of screen readers they make us abandon all pointing devices. To move across various elements which follow each other in a non-linear fashion we use only the keyboard. Such mechanisms are built into applications, this is no E-learning makes sense only additional functionality.

when it truly helps improve

MB: It is a broad issue. One Let us start with the operating the quality of education. must realize that everything system. If it meets accessibility that is related to Internet requirements, as Windows browsers, the Internet, web does, this is already a lot. Then content, or Internet applications is a live organism, there is the browser, a computer program created on still evolving and very dynamically at that. As regards the basis of a given accessible OS, and if the browser accessibility standards, when the e-learning platform is created based on that system, it is also accessible. Moddle was in its infancy, they had already been As for Internet content, it is created in such a way that developed as a kind of a general concept yet one must eventually it boils down to text. For instance, if we look remember that the Internet is not what it used to be at the HTML source, it is a text, which is something that ten or thirty years ago. Today Internet sites resemble can be easily read. It is accessible by definition. computer applications more than classic hypertext documents. In the beginning, when first www sites JU: But video chats and interactive boards will remain were being developed, the idea was that it really was inaccessible an academic tool for making footnotes and references MB: I think they will not remain such forever, it is to other documents and embedding photographs, a matter of time before such mechanisms could become yet it began to evolve more towards an application, accessible, it also linked to some Internet evolution. a universal system for interface creation. Because if we now look at what modern specifications like HTML5 IB: But it also depends on people a bit, on their are capable of, then we have, in actual fact, a perfect awareness. tool for making any interface. MB: It does as well. They should surely be made more It does not matter anymore on which operating aware. Yet I think that it will come naturally because system and what processor a specific page will be until now to place on the platform what Jacek Urbaniec launched. There is an Internet browser, a kind of calls interactive animation one had to use some extra a bridge, an entry point if you will, regardless of what software, be it Java, Flash or Silverlight, which may be accessible but does not have to. Such animations would is used later on. have to be created in a certain way to be accessible The problem, with not just Moodle but many and their creators would need to have even more applications, is that we are now changing into thinking knowledge to make it happen. And currently we can about content in more dynamic terms. This is called create animations using the mechanisms offered by the AJAX architecture, or feeding in subsequent content very specification of the HTML5 language. So we can elements without overloading the whole subpage and add elements which are accessible by nature. moving on to another address. In terms of accessibility, the key challenge is the fact that the graphic interface JU: And on the other hand most eye-pleasing are Flash is spatial in nature while the necessity to use screen animations.


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IB: So how to keep their attractiveness and ensure accessibility at the same time? MB: I think that Flash is going to become gradually obsolete. After all it is hard to make full-screen compositions using Flash when HTML5 makes it easily possible. JU: But for example games are made using Flash, the popular ones, the easiest ones to make. MB: Just because they are easiest to make and the market forces are as they are. IB: On the other hand, there are limits to such accessibility as a disabled person cannot handle many games after all. JU: To me blind persons are accustomed to some limitations. Worse, programmers who could design them differently do not do it as they simply know nothing about accessibility. IB: And here is the crux of the matter. JU: Such requirements should not be treated as some specific terrorism practiced by blind persons, imposing some requirements of a minority. It is rather the other side that terrorizes others by imposing their own solutions. Marta Bylica: And here is another reason – this is done using a line-of-least-resistance tactic because of the cost involved.

MB: It seems to me that creating web applications is less expensive and currently everyone in that industry understands it, from browser creators to content creators, that if accessibility standards are applied, it is cheaper. JU: We must admit, however, that before, some three years ago, we did not think that way. Now here at the Disability Support Service our statements sound nice, politically correct, but not so long ago we made Flash animations without thinking twice. MB: Before getting in touch with the DSS I thought little about it and after making contact with them I was very positively surprised with their philosophy of ensuring accessibility. In particular, I like that type of thinking that the basic version of an Internet site must be accessible and no special or alternative versions are necessary, because my webmastering experience tells me that could never be successful. Companies and organizations would want to save money on such versions. I also understood that such an approach was indeed rational. JU: So my understanding is that our courses at the Centre for Distance Learning are going to be accessible now. MB: The newly developed ones for sure. JU: And older ones will not be accessible?

IB: Yet maybe if someone had taught them this at university, they might know it.

JU: Accessibility standards can not only prevent digital exclusion, but they are also no burden for IT staff.

JU: If they heard about it in the first place, that would be a lot already.

MB: Yes, IT staff then learn a single system, a single set of skills and thanks to such knowledge they can contribute to reducing digital exclusion.

Marta Bylica: If this is not communicated to them during university studies at all that there are such standards to be followed in their design work, this need will not appear in them spontaneously later.

Photograph from the archive of the Jagiellonian University Centre for Distance Learning

MB: But of course, when one looks at webmastering companies, they mainly employ students, the cheapest labour on the market. It is then difficult to expect them to know how to produce accessible materials.

MB: Unfortunately not. HTML5 is not a standard tool yet and it is already now that we are switching from Flash to HTML5. It takes some time before the market takes another course. And so currently we have technical capacity to create rich content and applications in an accessible way, but whether we will do it, it is exactly a matter of awareness.

IB: And so we are concluding that this time around it was the market and some other technical parameters that brought more accessibility. Simpler and cheaper solutions turned out to be accessible but it could have been the other way and then you need awareness. JU: It may turn out in the future that a cheaper solution is inaccessible after all.

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JU: But Mr Average can think that what is friendly to blind or partially sighted person is of interior quality, somehow coarse. IB: Indeed and this is certainly influenced by the fact that we have Internet sites for all and those special ones, meaning worse, for users with disabilities. MB: This need not be the case and a single webpage for all can be highly attractive. IB: I like this conclusion a lot. Marta Bylica: But how to motivate IT people to apply accessibility standards? JU: Teach them this at university, make them aware of their existence, require them to know accessibility principles.

JU: There are two approaches here. E-learning enthusiasts, who are almost manically into it, believe that e-learning as such is going to change entire university education. Others, like me, consider that when a major reform of teaching is implemented, learning will find its rightful and important place in the new model. Yet such a major reform can only materialize under the influence of external factors like dwindling student numbers. Ministers, university presidents and education management staff will then all launch a rapid search for solutions which improve teaching quality so that as many students as possible can be attracted. IB: In this context our discussion is taking place at the right time, with the total number of students decreasing yet those with disabilities going up; and so we could think about ways to make e-learning courses accessible to all. Thank you for this exchange of views.

IB: And how to motivate universities to promote e-learning, hopefully in a version accessible to all, what could be a motivator for teachers?

Dr Jacek Urbaniec – representative of Jagiellonian University Rector for e-learning; e-learning fan and expert in creating e-learning and blended-learning platforms. Michał Bartosik – programmer at the Jagiellonian University Centre for Distance Learning, webmaster, creates and develops e-learning tools and in the DARe-Learning project is responsible for adapting the platform to specific needs of disabled users. Ireneusz Białek – head of the Jagiellonian University Disability Support Service, coordinator and originator of European disability awareness projects targeting academic teachers like DARe-Learning (DAReLearning.eu) and Constellation Leo (KonstelacjaLwa.pl). Marta Bylica – promotion specialist at the Jagiellonian University Disability Support Service (DSS), graduate of Polish studies, edits DSS publications and prepares them for printing as well as edits DSS websites such as DAReLearning. eu and KonstelacjaLwa.pl.


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You are kindly invited to use the rich offer available at the educational portal darelearning.eu! It was developed with academic teachers in mind so that they can learn more about modern teaching methods while working with disabled persons. We are convinced that the information found there will be of use also for secondary-school educators. The offer of the portal includes educational suggestions and adaptations, film materials and interesting publications. To receive updated information and keep abreast of new developments just write to us at darelearning@gmail.com. The DARe-Learning project is about learning from each other. We become familiar with our own and each other’s needs, also those stemming from specific types and degrees of disability. We all learn so as to create and develop better knowledge societies, where no-one is excluded on grounds of his/her disability or for any other reason.

More at www.darelearning.eu

The project carried out with financial support of the European Commission as part of the Lifelong Learning programme

Some Reflections on Internet Accessibility for Disabled Users Radosław Zaremba The Internet is present in the lives of us all, even when we are not aware of it. This invention, once used only by a narrow group of specialists, has become common good. Today, not only does it provide access to an enormous database but also to entertainment, electronic banking or, for example, the electronic platform of public administration services (ePUAP). It is hard to imagine life without access to the net. It should be remembered that in this common space, which is the Internet, there are also people with special needs related to their disability for whom access to website contents may be impossible. Disabled persons and web access The problems encountered by disabled persons when they use the net are often caused by the lack of awareness with regard to Universal Design among web developers. This concept has been created by Robert Mace, an architect, to be initially applied in architecture, but nothing stands in the way of using its in other fields, including website design. Universal Design provides that a product should be prepared in such a way that it may be used by all people in the widest possible range. But before our product (a website in this case) can fulfil this premise, first we need to know how disabled persons use the Internet and what barriers they encounter most often. Persons who are deaf will not listen to audio files, this is why next to the standard audio track there should be an alternative transcription – a text. Persons with mobility difficulties may use special controllers instead of a standard computer mouse. Depending on their needs, they may control the cursor using the head or, in some cases, only the eyes. Blind persons need a scree reader to use the computer. This software transforms the contents presented on the screen into speech using a speech synthesizer or a text on a refreshable Braille display. They can read websites in the same way as long as the sites meet certain accessibility standards. Here, webmasters are assisted by WCAG.

WCAG, WAI and W3C. What are they? WCAG – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – is a set of guidelines demonstrating how to publish contents


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on websites so that it can be accessible for persons with various disabilities. The guidelines were developed by the representatives of the World Wide Web Consortium, independent specialists and representatives of the community of disabled persons gathered around the Web Accessibility Initiative. The first version of the guidelines was published in 1999. The currently binding standard is WCAG 2.0 published in December 2008. WCAG divides website accessibility into three levels, marked accordingly as A, AA and AAA. Guidelines at A level must be met or the contents will be inaccessible for some groups of disabled persons. AA level includes guidelines that should be implemented or access to the contents will be difficult for some people. Finally, AAA level includes guidelines that may be fulfilled to facilitate navigation for persons with special needs. It should be noted that this document, apart from the guidelines, includes practical advice for programmers and persons responsible for content edition helping them implement the solutions required and avoid mistakes.

The most common problems To give you an insight into website accessibility and show what problems are encountered by disabled persons using the Internet I will discuss a few relatively common mistakes made while developing websites or editing their contents. One of the most common mistakes is that there is no text equivalent of the graphic information presented or the text equivalent does not fulfil its purpose. In HTML the “ALT” attribute is used to achieve this purpose. It enables a blind person to find out what information is in the picture in the website. If the “ALT” attribute is empty, the user using a screen reader will only hear the message “image”. If there is an “ALT” attribute, the message will

be more or less as follows: “Image – a picture of the earth from space”. But providing an alternative text only does not solve the problem. It is important that the text is adequate for the information in the picture. The same picture of the earth will be accompanied by a different alternative text if the photograph should present the flow of clouds over Europe than the text describing the picture illustrating the illumination of individual parts of the globe. The context of a given graphic element should always be taken into account when writing an alternative text. Another common mistake made by persons responsible for text editing is the absence or wrong use of headlines. When applied in the right way, headlines facilitate text navigation for blind persons and enable them to better understand the document structure. Unfortunately, often instead of multi-level headlines in order to distinguish, e.g., crossheads or text sections, the following tags are used: <b> (bald print), <i> (italics) or just tag attributes <font>. This is not a good solution and headings are recommended instead. A serious difficulty, often encountered by blind persons in the net, involves the common CAPTCHA codes or pictures with the text that should be copied, e.g. during registration to prove that you are not a robot. Naturally, they are not read and adding them to the alternative text would make them pointless. If you have to apply this kind of security device, you may consider a different form (e.g. a simple question that should be answered) or an additional function of reading the text by a synthesized voice (you must remember that the voice may not be too distorted so that it is comprehensible). The first alternative is successfully used by, among others, the Academic Digital Library and the other one by reCAPTCHA. At the stage of website design it is good to think about navigation, which should be possible both with a keyboard and a mouse. This increases accessibility not only for blind persons using only the keyboard, but also for the persons with mobility disabilities. One final thing I would like to mention is colour use. Sometimes when one or more fields in a form are not

filled in, the following message appears: “Mandatory fields have not been completed. The fields marked in red require completion”. As you may suppose, this information is useless for a blind computer user. While marking the fields that need completion with colour is convenient for persons who can see, you need to make sure that colour is not the only carrier of information.

Is it worth it? Is it worth to take the effort and develop your website following the WCAG guidelines? Definitely! In Poland there are about 4.7 million people with different disabilities (source: National Census 2011). This accounts for over 10% of the population. If we ensure access to the information published on our website to them, we significantly increase its impact and extend the range of clients we can reach. But this is not all. It should be remembered that following the regulations in force, the ICT systems of the entities that carry out public-purpose projects will have to fulfil the requirements of WCAG 2.0 guidelines at AA level. It must be noted that the legal situation is very much different in individual EU member states. In Poland there are no legal provisions regulating the accessibility of websites of businesses and private entities, while in the UK a company whose website is inaccessible runs the risk of a discrimination lawsuit. Another reason why WCAG guidelines should be applied is more practical. The websites that fulfil these guidelines are clearer and friendlier, not just for disabled persons. Moreover, as WCAG follows the standards developed by W3C very closely, we can be sure that the website will be properly displayed by various systems, browsers and devices. The issues that have been mentioned here are only a tip of the iceberg with regard to the problems related to the Internet accessibility and do not exhaust the theme. This article aims to make the reader aware of the issues related to disabled web users and show that websites may and should be accessible for everyone. In the 20th century the Internet is common good and everyone should have free access to its resources.

Radosław Zaremba – specialist in Assistive Technologies at the Jagiellonian University Disability Support Service in charge of technological solutions and equipment used by persons with disabilities.

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Is the Polish Internet Friendly for Blind Users? Dagmara Nowak-Adamczyk, Disabled Students Consultant at the Jagiellonian University Disability Support Service (DSS), and Radosław Zaremba, AT Specialist at the DSS, talk to Jakub Stefańczyk, student of History at the Jagiellonian University Dagmara Nowak-Adamczyk (DNA): Jakub, you are a young and active person, a student and, just like most young people, you use the Internet, which is why we would like to talk to you today about the condition of the Internet regarding the needs of disabled persons, in particular about its accessibility for blind persons. At the beginning of this interview I want to ask you about your definition of “accessibility” of the Internet resources? How do you understand it? What does it entail? Jakub Stefańczyk (JS): The “accessibility” of Internet resources is the possibility to use it applying the technologies I do, i.e. the screen reader. It sounds like a cliché, but I would like to say that the Internet is one of the basic tools a disabled person works with, especially if this person is a university student. DNA: Can you as a blind person have free access to all the advantages offered by the virtual world? How do you assess its accessibility with regard to your needs?

Image by Przemysław Stachyra

JS: Paradoxically, I must say that it used to be better. I have been using the Internet for about 8 years now and in the past websites were developed using only HTML, which is 90-95 % accessible for the screen reader. Today, Flash is often employed in website design and

some presentations or objects are increasingly less accessible. Facebook is a good example. Just two years ago Facebook was much more accessible than today and if the current trend continues, it soon may become completely inaccessible for blind people. DNA: Can we say that the more advanced the technology, the less accessible for blind users? JS: If a user who can see has, e.g., 10 graphic buttons, life is easier for him or her, isn’t it? To play the film this person may click “play” or “stop”, “rewind” and “go back”. The screen reader often does not recognize these buttons because webmasters have not attached any tags to them. The top Polish media that have been harping on about assistance for disabled persons every day have websites which are poorly accessible or not accessible at all and include a variety of graphic elements without tags. The same applies to banks. DNA: What other websites do you use and how do you assess their accessibility? JS: Just like any other young person, I use a variety of websites ranging from social networking services to the university portal where I get e-mails from my teachers. Most pages that I use are, of course, websites containing text. Fortunately, today most websites are still prepared in this way. It should also be emphasized that there are more accessible than inaccessible websites and inaccessibility is related primarily to multimedia. Text is usually accessible, although there may be problems, even with text. I have problems with digital libraries where publications are difficult, even extremely hard, to download. Of course, I am not an IT expert so I was not able to download the material from, e.g. the Silesian Digital Library or another regional one like Świętokrzyskie Digital Library, because I did not know certain things. This is also possible. DNA: But maybe a digital library should be described in a clear way and should be accessible for all users?


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JS: Yes, it is true. For me, it was sad that the place that I visit does not implement this idea in practice, i.e. it is inaccessible. I did not manage to download a book. Only thanks to the assistance of the Disability Support Service did I manage to obtain this book. Radosław Zaremba (RZ):In most digital libraries downloading is quite difficult. There is no easy way to do it. Probably, it is so because of copy right protection. JS: Yes, but please note that it is a little ridiculous because, on the one hand, you make something accessible but, on the other, downloading it is more difficult. If the point is to make it more difficult, this undermines the very idea. It does not apply to blind people only. Recently, my tutor has complained that he wanted to download something for me and was unable to do it although he can see.

RZ: OK, and what about the audio equivalents next to these codes, are they sufficient? Honestly, I tried to register using them and failed although I am an IT expert. JS: Once I counted my attempts and six out of nine failed. It really is difficult. I understand the need on the other side: security issues, etc. But I do not know if this does not compromise the interests of the visually impaired too much.

Today, Flash is often employed in website design and some presentations or objects are increasingly less accessible.

RZ: I would like to know what other problems you encounter in the net? JS: In a social networking service, e.g. famous Facebook, a lot changes as we speak, e.g. someone uploads a picture and it is immediately displayed. Often, screen readers are not able to cope with it. It may turn out that when you are answering an e-mail, you are writing in reply to the wrong one. This has happened to me many a time and then my friends would write back to me “OK, but what do you mean? This is unrelated to the subject!”. It turned out that I wrote to the wrong person or what I wrote was not what I intended to write. This sometimes applies to Facebook. There is a software dedicated to blind people and targeting Facebook use but it is not updated and has recently been incompatible with the portal as it contains too many mistakes. RZ: What about CAPTCHA codes at registration? JS: It is good that you have mentioned them, these are the famous picture codes that are often used for registration at many portals, Internet shops and in general have been becoming increasingly popular. The proportion of 90% of them are inaccessible for blind persons. There is an audio version of this code, i.e. you click on numbers that are read out and you have to enter them. But most shops do not care about making registration accessible for blind users or even do not know how much these codes can make someone’s life difficult. I deal with them the easiest way possible, i.e. I ask a sighted person for help as there is probably no other way.

RZ: Yes, especially that the pictures are sometimes so distorted that even a person who can see is not able to read them. JS: Once, at home, my mother and grandmother had an argument about the letter in the picture, so I confirm your observation. DNA: Have you encountered any other barriers in the net?

JS: There is the issue of Internet chats whose accessibility to blind persons is extremely limited or non-existent. RZ: Yes, because there everything is happening as you speak. JS: Yes and it is very hard. Although Gadu-Gadu was accessible until version 6.7, then version 7.0 appeared and it is inaccessible. Luckily, 6.7 still works and you can use it. RZ: The situation with Skype was similar? JS: Yes, but the Skype issue has been dealt with. For example, I managed to deal with it. RZ: It is good as Skype allows screen readers. JS: Yes, Skype should be mentioned as an interesting and good idea that combines a variety of interests. If someone wants, they may use graphic functions, but if they prefer, they may use the interface, which is read out. So it makes everyone happy. DNA: At the beginning of our interview you said that some websites were accessible for you, primarily websites containing text. Could you tell us which websites do you find easy to surf through? JS: Yes, for example Wikipedia. I must say that at least until now Wikipedia has been one of the most accessible pages. Of course, I do not focus here on its value as a resource, whether it contains mistakes or not. But from the technical perspective, it is very well developed. Wikipedia may truly serve as a model for webmasters. Google is also quite good. Also our Polish portals such as Wirtualna Polska, Onet, etc. are not bad, although sometimes they are not clear as they contain a lot of Equality News

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information and you have to learn how to use them, but this depends on practice so it can be mastered. DNA: Do you feel digitally excluded? JS: I feel I am in danger of exclusion within the next few years as, unfortunately, the trends are not good. As I have said at the beginning, my life used to be easier and I think that website graphitization or flashization will increase as this is the current trend. RZ: Flashization is not likely to increase as this technology is being abandoned. JS: Really?! RZ: Adobe is already preparing to enter the market with its own tool to create and edit HTML5, which automatically means that Flash will be abandoned sooner or later. JS: It is interesting whether HTML5 developed by Adobe will be accessible. I hope it will – but you know more about it. RZ: Just like until now, it will all depend on webmasters. DNA: What is the situation at the university, do your teachers refer in class to the resources available on-line? Do they recommend electronic materials to students? JS: Yes, teachers often refer to the Internet. Many projects today, especially in civic education, are on-line. There are, for example, virtual tours of the Parliament that are inaccessible for blind persons. I know about it because my teacher of “Poland’s Political System” recommended this virtual tour to us. When I clicked on it, it turned out that you may not go for it using a screen reader. This is a bit unfair that the Parliament Office, which is a public body that lays down the law, did not think that it should make its electronic resources available for quite a large group of citizens. I remember about it as a voter. DNA: Have you ever encountered a barrier on a website recommended to you by your teacher? JS: Yes, but my teacher was understanding. When I told him it was impossible to access it, he did not say: “You did not visit it and now you are just making up excuses”. He said: “Oh, I’m sorry..”. We just went on this tour in


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Equality News

class. He described the webpage to me, what it contains, together with other students from the group. But I must say that many teachers are not aware of what is available for blind persons using computers and well-developed websites. This should change. DNA: How can it be changed? Through training? JS: Definitely, but the best solution would be a grassroots movement, i.e. an increasing number of disabled students who take part in the academic life and then, thanks to the education they acquire, start work in corporations, offices and media. If we keep telling someone stories about those poor blind people who need to gain access to something, then they will say “OK, but where are they because I do not know anyone”. I can see it when I talk to my friends from university. They treat me as any other person and after three years of studying with me they know they have to tell me something that is inaccessible to me. When there is a presentation then they lean towards me and read me the contents of the slides. I think that the best way is to bring blind and poorly sighted persons, or more broadly disabled persons, among non-disabled people and show them and tell them about our needs. On the other hand, it is necessary to promote social education in this field. It is important that disabled persons take part in it, also those with university degrees, and that this education is extended to other educated persons who are not disabled, i.e. we need to work together towards developing not just a network but also the physical environment that is friendly to all people. It is important not to show disabled persons who have some achievements as heroes and people who have managed to accomplish almost heroic feats. It is good if it is demonstrated that a disabled person may study, have passions, go to a party with friends, which is not an achievement worthy of a monument. Monumental presentation of these people brings associations with exceptionality and if something is exceptional, it is very difficult or almost impossible to achieve. And today it is really enough just to want something to achieve the level you have set for yourself. It requires effort, but not of superhuman quality or worthy of pinning the label of a hero onto an active person who is disabled. DNA: Thank you for talking to us.

Preparation of Teaching Materials Adapted to the Needs of Persons with Disabilities Joanna Dzięglewska In order to provide a full and equal access to education to all students, it is necessary to prepare accessible versions of teaching materials. In order to explain how to prepare them so that they take into account needs of people with disabilities, it is necessary to define what is an accessible version and what kind of teaching materials may not be accessible. Accessibility of materials Audiovisual materials In film and sound materials it is very easy to exclude two groups of students: blind and partially sighted as well as deaf and hard of hearing. In case of audiovisual materials blind students will only hear the sound and they will not see the picture whereas deaf students will be able to see everything but they will not be able to receive the sound. If an audio material, such as dialogues in a film, is to be fully accessible, it is necessary to prepare subtitles for the film; the subtitles will be shown on the screen in parallel to spoken dialogues. If a film or a visual material is to be fully accessible to blind or partially sighted students, it is necessary to prepare audio description of the given material. Audio description uses sounds and words to describe the content of the audiovisual material. Visual and artistic materials: painting, sculpture, low relief, drawing In the case of sculpture or low relief, we need to adapt the material to the needs of blind and partially sighted students. An adaptation means here a description of a given material. It should describe what a given painting shows, what elements are presented where and how, what colours are used for which elements or for what emotions (if it is significant), what brushstrokes are used (if it is important, like, e.g. in impressionist paintings). We describe it starting from the general information and moving on to more detailed information so that a student can gradually imagine and understand that. It is very important that the description of a work of art is done by an expert who will not only present what is in the picture but can also point out the important

details and explain their significance. Apart from the verbal description we can also use convex graphics as an additional adaptation of the work of art. It needs to be emphasized that the verbal description is the most important part without which the convex graphics may not be fully understandable. It cannot be expected that every blind or partially sighted person can take advantage of convex graphics to the same extent. There are people who very skilled in using convex graphics but there are also those who cannot use them at all. Besides, not everything can be rendered in the form of convex graphics. Very often it needs to be adjusted to the specific needs of a given student. If a student is to learn about sculpture, it would be good to prepare a verbal description but also make it possible for the student to “see” it by touching it. Text and graphic materials, diagrams: books, presentations from lectures, tests, exams, charts, maps, some pdf files Accessibility of text materials may be a problem not only for blind and partially sighted students, but also for students who due to their health condition cannot carry teaching materials (like heavy books or objects) or have limited mobility and study from home. For these students it is necessary to adapt printed materials and present them in an accessible electronic version. The same electronic version is not fully accessible to all the students to the same extent. For students who cannot carry books it may be sufficient to prepare scans of the materials. There are many conditions that must be met in order to make the materials fully accessible to blind students. Partially sighted students may sometimes need additional formatting in a text in order to have fully legible materials. It is best to save such materials Equality News   1 (2)/2013


in popular formats such as: doc, txt, rtf. It is not recommended to save text files in the pdf format.

Preparing accessible text and graphic materials, maps and diagrams Adaptations of the last group of teaching materials, that is texts, diagrams and maps are very frequent. That is why I will describe the process of their adaptation thoroughly. Adapting teaching materials to the needs of persons with disabilities is in compliance with law. It is stipulated in the art. 331 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights of 4 February 1994. Accessible materials for blind and some partially sighted students are among others: paper materials (books, Xerox copies, printouts) as well as photos of the texts such as scans, photos of a page with a text, or a pdf file made on the basis of the photo (you cannot mark the text on that). In order to make such materials accessible, all the paper documents need to be scanned or photographed. A scan or photo should be in shades of grey, with appropriate resolution (around 300 dpi is recommended). Then the materials prepared in such a way are processed by means of programs such as OCR (Optical Character Recognition). It is a group of programs used for recognizing signs and texts from scans, photos and pdf files. In texts and teaching materials there are 3 groups of elements: 1. tables, 2. graphic elements: diagrams, charts, maps, 3. texts. If the elements adapted belong to the first or the second group, one needs to choose the element to be adapted

(table, drawing, diagram, chart, photo, etc.), and then give its number and title. Only after that one should enter the text to be adapted.

1. Adaptation of tables An adaptation of tables depends on how elaborate they are. Most often we describe them in the form of sub-items but some tables are simple and they can be written out in a more descriptive way. Below there are several types of tables and fragments of their possible adaptations. A table needs to be presented in the form of sub-items if it includes many columns or if they are rather complex. Depending on a structure of the table we can create items and sub-items. If one of columns includes the dominant information that is broken down in details in other columns, then the contents of the first column become the main items and the contents of other columns – sub-items. The table is written out in lines, a headline of each column is repeated before its content. (line 1) 1. Headline of the first column (the main one): the content of line 1 and column 1. 1.1. Headline of the second column: the content of line 1 and column 2. 1.2. Headline of the third column: the content of line 1, column 3, (line 2) 2. Headline of the first column (the main one): the content of line 2 and column 1 2.1. Headline of the second column: the content of line 2 and column 2. 2.2. Headline of the third column: the content of line 2, column 3 ... etc.

Below there is an example of a fragment of the table adaptation with items and sub-items. Table 1. Changes in the size of national income and inequality of income.


Gross Domestic Product Gini coefficients for family income per person (GDP) in 2000 (1990=100) 1987–1990 1996–1998

Countries of Central and 106.5 Eastern Europe















Czech Republic





















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Adaptation: Table 1. Changes in the size of national income and inequality of income. 1. Countries of Central and Eastern Europe 1.1 . Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2000 (1990=100) amounts to 106.5 1.2. Gini coefficient for income in the years 1987–1990 amounts to: 0.23 1.3. Gini coefficient for income in the years 1996–1998 amounts to: 0.33 2. Country: Albania 2.1. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2000 (1990=100) amounts to 110 2.2. Gini coefficient for income in the years 1987–1990 amounts to: none 2.3. Gini coefficient for income in the years 1996–1998 amounts to: none 3. Country: Bulgaria 3.1. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2000 (1990=100) amounts to 81 3.2. Gini coefficient for income in the years 1987–1990 amounts to: 0.23 3.3. Gini coefficient for income in the years 1996–1998 amounts to: 0.41 4. Country: Croatia 4.1. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2000 (1990=100) amounts to 87 4.2. Gini coefficient for income in the years 1987–1990 amounts to: 0.36 4.3. Gini coefficient for income in the years 1996–1998 amounts to: 0.35 ... etc. If a table can be described without sub-items or with very succinct sub-items, it should be done so. Below there is an adaptation of the table, referring only to main items. Table 2. Normalized mean assessment of the size of salaries (as they are) and demanded salaries (as they should be) – data for 1991.


Normalized mean assessment of salaries

preferred salaries

University professor






Physician with a private practice



Physician in a public hospital



Director of a state-owned company






Owner of a company with 100 employees or more



Accountant in a bank






Shop owner






Agricultural worker






Unqualified worker





-0,81 Equality News   1 (2)/2013


Adaptation: Table 2. Normalized mean assessment of the size of salaries (as they are) and preferred salaries (as they should be) – data for 1991. The table includes professions with assigned normalized mean assessment of salaries and normalized mean of preferred salaries. 1. Profession: University professor, normalized mean assessment of salary is -0.12 and normalized mean of preferred salary is 0.21. 2. Profession: Minister, normalized mean assessment of salary is 0.74 and normalized mean of preferred salary is 0.77. 3. Profession: Physician with a private practice, normalized mean assessment of salary is 0.20 and normalized mean of preferred salary is 0.17. 4. Profession: Physician in a public hospital, normalized mean assessment of salary is -0.41 and normalized mean of preferred salary is -0.22. ... etc.

useful in the case of maps, though it is not always necessary to include it. e.g. Drawing 1. While describing a drawn image, we should take into account its purpose and its substantive links with the text. We try to describe only the elements which are relevant in the given context – we do not describe all the details. For instance, you can see a map below. The most important information on the map is the states which are part of the European Union; we may additionally list the states on the map that are not part of the European Union.

While describing the table in the form of sub-items we should finish every sub-item with a full stop. It is helpful because when a synthesizer reads the content of every sub-item to a student, it will stop for a while and then the content is more understandable.

2. Adaptation of graphics: diagrams, charts and maps In many textbooks there are numerous diagrams, maps, charts, different illustrations and photos. While adapting such elements we should know to what extent they are significant in a given document and whether they are described in the written text (perhaps they are placed there only as a visualization of the description in the text). If they are described in the text in detail, we just insert information about the type of the element, e.g. a drawn image, a diagram or a chart and then add an ordinal and the title of the given element, e.g. Image 13. Portrait of Kościuszko. If there is no detailed description of a given diagram or chart in the text, then it needs to be added. If possible, we present a given diagram or chart in a descriptive way. If it is difficult or impossible, apart from the general description of the diagram, image or the chart, we use adaptation in the form of sub-items (as we did while adapting tables). Such a solution is often used for diagrams, e.g. a family tree. Sometimes it is impossible to present it in the form of sub-items, then it is a good idea to introduce convex graphics, if a student can use it. This form is especially


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Drawing 1. A map from the book by John McCormick Understanding the European Union PWN 2010.

An adaptation of the map should be as follows: Map 0.1. European Union in 2007. The states that were part of EU in 2007 were marked on the map. 1. EU member states 1.1. Sweden, 1.2. Finland, 1.3. Great Britain, 1.4. Ireland, etc... 2. States that were not EU member states in 2007 (presented on the map): 2.1. Island, 2.2. Russia, 2.3. Belarus, etc... If an image is only decorative and it does not include any factual content, then we can skip it. Sometimes

Drawing 2. A fragment of the book Spanish Grammar En Uso A1 (NOWELA Publishing House, 2008) showing a board with advertisements.

Drawing 3. A fragment of the book Spanish Grammar En Uso A1 showing a conversation between two people.

in exercise books some tasks are enriched by graphic elements, e.g. an advertisement on a board (drawing 2) or a drawing accompanying the dialogue of a man and a woman (drawing 3). Then we do not describe the image in detail, we do not skip it either; if necessary, we add a verbal description to the text. If it is an advertisement, we write e.g. “Advertisement 0.”, and then the content of the advertisement. If it is a dialogue, we write e.g. “Person A.:” and then add the content of the utterance without a description of the image.

3. Adaptation of texts There 3 categories of texts that we differentiate while adapting texts. A. books, exercise books, B. tests, C. other materials. General rules Each of these categories has some specific adaptations that will not appear in other categories. Yet there are some basic adjustments that will take place regardless of the category. Texts are adapted mainly for blind Equality News   1 (2)/2013


and partially sighted students. They usually use screen readers which read out a text in the document and magnifying programs. Sometimes both programs can be used at the same time. Sometimes blind students use additionally a Braille display. That is why the form of the adapted text is so important. I will present several rules common for all the materials. 3.1. Numbering: items, sub-items and bullets If there are sub-items in the text, then we must remember that we need to put a full stop after each sub-item’s number, then it is easier to understand the material that is read out. Numbering can be presented in the form of Arabic numerals or letters of a different type; Roman numbering should be replaced. If items are placed in the form of bullets, then they should be described in the form of letter or digit items. 3.2. Gaps If there are gaps in the text and a student is supposed to enter a text there, there should be replaced by three dots (...). Even if it was marked by the whole line of dots or an underlined gap in the original text, in the adaptation it must be replaced by three dots (...). Sometimes gaps are numbered, then we need to introduce a name for them, e.g. in English texts we use a word “gap”. In such cases we use three dots denoting a gap and right after that we enter the word for that, e.g. “gap” and its number ended with a full stop. Then such an adaptation will look as follows: The original: “My mother (1) ............flowers” Adaptation: “My mother ... gap 1. flowers” 3.3. Tables We remove all the tables and adapt them in compliance with the guidelines presented two chapters above. 3.4. Graphics We remove all the images and adapt it in compliance with the guidelines presented in the previous chapter. 3.5. Words in bold/highlighted words in the text and references to them If some words in the text are in bold, marked with colour, underlined, etc. and if there are references to these words, we have to introduce adaptations. If in the sentences there are phrases like: ...word in bold ... Look at the highlighted ... then we have to change their content. The marked words are put in brackets and we add the following content to the sentence: “The marked words were put in brackets.” The bold letters, colour or underlining may be left in the text, it may be used by partially sighted students. Yet we must remember that adaptations must be introduced for blind students.


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If marked words appear in a big chunk of the text and marking is used to introduce new words or specific phrases, we should list these words before the text and explain that these words were marked in the text below. Additionally these words may be put in brackets in the text. 3.6. Entering answers Blind students should have an opportunity to enter answers by writing appropriate words, expressions or numbers. The following phrases should not be used: Circle the right answer... Underline the word... Such phrases, depending on the context, should be replaced by: write the right word, enter the correct answer. Moreover a student should have a space to give such an answer marked by three dots. 3.7. Symbols and abbreviations Symbols and abbreviations often appear in texts. If abbreviations are explained in the text, they should not be removed. Symbols should be replaced by words in order to avoid ambiguity because not every symbol is read properly by a synthesizer. You may also contact the Jagiellonian University Disability Support Service or a student in order to define how a given symbol is read. 3.8. Using automatic numbering Automatic numbering should not be used in texts adapted for blind and partially sighted students. A student working with the text may unintentionally change numbering in all sub-items. 3.9. Excessive space, tab stops and empty lines All the excessive spaces, tab stops or empty lines should be removed from the adapted text. It is sufficient to separate paragraphs or fragments of texts with a single empty line.

A. Special adaptations of books • When we make adaptations of a book, we should begin the text by giving the author and the title of the book. • Many changes are introduced when we adapt books or exercise books, e.g. we remove drawn images and introduce their descriptions, we remove tables and describe them, etc. All these changes should be described at the beginning of the book/ exercise book so that a student knows how to use the material. We should do the same if we introduce our own abbreviations for some elements, e.g. pp for page number. All the abbreviations used in the adaptation should also be listed at the beginning. Below there are examples of phrases describing changes. “Numbers of pages remained unchanged.

Drawing prepared by J. Dzięglewska Drawing 4. An example of an adaptation of a book with retained numbering of pages.

A number of a given page is below the text and is preceded by the abbreviation p.” “Values given in the original in Roman numerals, in the electronic version are presented in the form of digits.” • All books and exercise books have page numbers. To help students to find the right content on their own, at the beginning of each page we write the abbreviation denoting a page and then we give its number. • Numbers of chapters and subsections should be unique, just as numbers of sentences. If possible, we should retain the original numbering. If a subsection is repeated in the book or in exercises, then we try to ascribe it a unique value by repeating the number of the main chapter before it. The same is applied to tasks in exercise books. If we have a module 5 and a task 4,

then it is advisable to introduce the number of the module before the task 4, e.g. task 5.4 to differentiate it from a task with the same number but from the next module. Information about such adaptations should be given at the beginning of the book. • If in the original book or exercise book there are only numbers of tasks or exercises, then we need to introduce additional adaptations. If we prepare exercises we must bear in mind that we should give not only numbers but also describe the function of a task or set of answers, etc. Each task or set of answers should be preceded by a phrase describing their function (e.g. “Task”), written in the language of the textbook or the exercise. After such a phrase we should give its number, e.g. ‘Task 7.” or “Answer to task 15.” Information about such a form of Equality News   1 (2)/2013


adaptation should be given at the beginning of the book. • If in the book or exercise book there are tasks with answers to the tasks, we should adapt the way of placing them. The answer to each task should be placed under the task.

B. Adaptation of tests • At the beginning of a test, a student needs to be informed how many tasks are in the test. • If scoring is given in the test, at the beginning of the adaptation we should give the numbers of all the tasks with scores ascribed to them. • If numbers of tasks are given in Roman numerals, they should be changed to Arabic numerals. If tasks are not ascribed numbers, just marked by formatting or bullets, then they should be ascribed Arabic numerals. • If an exam/test consists of working with a text and then there are questions to the text, the questions should be placed before the text so that students know on what they should focus while reading the text.

C. Other materials Apart from books, exercise books and tests there are many other text materials that are adapted for students. It is sufficient to apply general rules for adaptation of materials for most of them. There are texts to which we need to apply book or test adaptations. It all depends on their structure, purpose and function. Adaptations presented in this article are the most frequent ones. Yet because of specific needs of students we often use other forms of adaptation or introduce additional elements. If you want to check accessibility of your materials and prepare for work with students with disabilities or you have a problem with adaptation of your materials, do not hesitate to contact the Jagiellonian University Disability Support Service. We adapt textbooks, exercise books and books for students in our office all the time. We adapt exam materials, tests and all kinds of teaching materials. If a need arises, we prepare also convex graphics, of course only when a student can use such a form. The DSS staff will be glad to check the materials that you want to present to your students and will adapt them appropriately.

Joanna Dzięglewska – IT specialist, expert on state-of-the-art assistive technologies; she organizes training courses at the Jagiellonian University Disability Support Service focusing on assistive technologies for students with different disabilities and for university staff.


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Standard Audio/Video Materials Not for Everyone Natalia Kosiniak, a graduate of scientific information and library science of the Jagiellonian University talks to Dagmara NowakAdamczyk, a consultant for students’ affairs at the Jagiellonian University Disability Support Service (DSS)

Natalia Kosiniak (NK): I’m also glad, thank you for inviting me to collaborate on creating this issue of “Equality News”.

NK: Yes, just like a majority of persons hard of hearing I try to lip-read, but I have some problems with distinguishing certain sounds. For me some of them sound the same and it is very difficult for me to distinguish certain words properly. Of course it’s better if in video files you can see a person who speaks because you can additionally lip-read. It would be best if what people say was also attached in the form of a text. I find the lack of such a text quite troublesome.

DNA: You are now a graduate of the Jagiellonian University…

DNA: Are there any particularly friendly websites that you like to visit?

Dagmara Nowak-Adamczyk (DNA): Natalia, I’m glad that we can meet in a different role than so far and I hope that our conversation will contribute to a wider debate on accessibility of the Internet resources to persons with disabilities.

NK: Yes, I graduated from scientific information and library science in 2011, that is a year and a half ago.

NK: First of all, I browse through websites that Many IT students who design audio/ have a lot of text, where I can read information video materials are not aware that that I can understand they design them also for persons DNA: You are also a person more easily than when hard of hearing. Would who are hard of hearing or partially I use an audio file that you say that disability sighted. requires much more makes it more difficult for attention paid to what you to have an easy access a person is saying there. to the Internet? But I wouldn’t say that I have NK: In a sense – yes, e.g. when I use audio files without my favourite websites. I just browse through the websites a text attached. The lack of the text is a problem because depending on the information that I need at a given time. people hard of hearing like me cannot hear 100% of the If I have no choice and I need a given website for personal recording even if they rewind fragments of the audio or professional purposes, and no text is available, I try to file back and forth. I must say I cannot fully understand deal somehow with it, I listen to an audio file if necessary, such materials. For instance, I never open audio files but it is quite difficult and troublesome to me. I have with songs without lyrics. If I know the lyrics and then hearing aids that improve hearing so thanks to them I can I listen to that, I can distinguish individual words of the cope better, e.g. using headphones. They are closer to my song. I can also distinguish words of people with clear ears than loudspeakers so they make it easier for me to enunciation because they speak very distinctly and it is understand things. easier to understand them. DNA: When you were still a student, I could see that during a conversation you resorted to lip-reading to understand your interlocutor better. You are doing it now as well, during our today’s meeting. Do you use this strategy while watching video materials, like films, on the Internet?

DNA: Do you ask people for help when audio and video materials are not accessible to you? NK: Sometimes I do. Then somebody explains to me things that I didn’t fully understand. If I have access to the audio material only and I’m with someone, I often ask “What did they say? I didn’t get that.” I’d prefer to have Equality News   1 (2)/2013


access to such materials on my own but at the moment it is not always technically possible. Often there should be some support, apart from audio files, there should be something that would help me have access to audio materials in a way that is convenient for me.

DNA: Since we are talking about university studies, let me ask you about your field of study: did you learn how to prepare a digital library in such a way that it can be used also by persons with disabilities, especially the blind?

DNA: How did you cope with such materials during your university studies? NK: I had to cope somehow with what I can see and hear. Sometimes I was supposed to watch films, e.g. on a history of a library or systems that were introduced into libraries. If I needed to understand a certain material better, I approached lecturers and asked for an additional text.

NK: I think we heard about WCAG standards on accessibility of websites to people with disabilities during classes on the Internet. My knowledge of the subject is rather general, not very detailed. As I recall it, the topic of people with disabilities was not particularly mentioned. Frankly speaking, if I was to open a virtual library that would be accessible for instance to the partially sighted or blind, I wouldn’t know how to do it well.

DNA: Why do you think such adjustments are not frequent yet on the Internet?

DNA: Maybe such topics should be included in the syllabus for such university studies?

NK: I think this is because many IT students who design audio/video materials are not aware that they design them also for persons who are hard of hearing or partially sighted. I think they lack such awareness, they are not taught that during their studies.

NK: Definitely so. It would be very useful for people who study library science to know that there are people who cannot fully see or hear things. It is necessary to discuss such topics during such university studies. DNA: Thank you for the conversation.

Understanding the Four Principles of Accessibility The guidelines and Success Criteria are organized around the following four principles, which lay the foundation necessary for anyone to access and use Web content. Anyone who wants to use the Web must have content that is: 1. Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive. This means that users must be able to perceive the information being presented (it can’t be invisible to all of their senses). 2. Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable. This means that users must be able to operate the interface (the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform) . 3. Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable. This means that users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface (the content or operation cannot be beyond their understanding). 4. Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. This means that users must be able to access the content as technologies advance (as technologies and user agents evolve, the content should remain accessible). If any of these are not true, users with disabilities will not be able to use the Web. Source: World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Introduction to Understanding WCAG 2.0, available in Internet: <http://www. w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/intro.html#introduction-fourprincs-head> [access: 30.01.2013].


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Subtitles for Deaf Viewers – What Are They Exactly? Anna Jankowska, Agnieszka Szarkowska Resources on the Internet are so rich that they provide numerous benefits for their users, ranging from information to entertainment. Recently more and more often on the Internet one can find both sound and image, e.g. the Internet TV or films. A question arises then whether such content takes into account needs of all the Internet users? There are very few people in Poland who have never seen such cult comedies as Sexmission (Polish original Seksmisja) or Teddy Bear (Polish original Miś). Yet we should remember that there is a group of people who did not have full access to audiovisual materials not because they did not want to, but because of their disability or because the materials were not adjusted to their needs1. For persons with hearing disability who live in Poland the time has stopped at the time of silent cinema so they cannot fully take advantage of audiovisual resources that other people use for entertainment, for scientific purposes or to enliven the classes they teach. It turns out that the audiovisual resources can be accessible to people with hearing disability. How to properly create subtitles for them?

Types of subtitles One of the most important and the most controversial aspects of subtitles for deaf persons is whether subtitles should be word-to-word, that is if they should include every word of the soundtrack or whether they should be shortened as in subtitles translated from foreign languages. It should be mentioned that there are different people with hearing disability. They can be roughly divided into two groups. The first group is people born deaf and those who lost hearing before they learnt to speak. The other group is people whose problems with hearing started after they learnt to speak Polish. Because of different linguistic experiences

Editor’s note: Since in Poland main emphasis is put on creating subtitles for films broadcast mostly on DVD carriers and on TV, standards for creating subtitles for deaf persons discussed in this text should also refer to other audio/video materials on the Internet. 1

these people may have a different degree of ability to understand a written text2 .

Different perspectives Broadcasters in Poland preparing subtitles for deaf and hard of hearing persons have so far quoted the argument that people who were born deaf can read more slowly and have a more limited vocabulary than people whose problems with hearing started later in life. That is why they tended to choose simplified and shortened subtitles. Now, thanks to lobbying of organizations of people with hearing disability and thanks to results of scientific research the situation has begun to change slowly. More and more often subtitles reflect dialogues more closely. It is very important because many Polish viewers who are hard of hearing or deaf demand word-to-word subtitles and they are very strongly against any cuts in dialogues. Many of them claim that any modification of subtitles deprives them of an opportunity to experience the real atmosphere of the program. They also protest against simplified vocabulary because they argue that they use subtitles to learn Polish. Last but not least, many of them want to get a product identical with the product provided to hearing viewers. It is not always possible to render the Editor’s note: For people who were born deaf their first language is sign language, and the second is Polish. Unfortunately, the Polish system of early support for development of deaf children and their parents as well as the system of education do not take sign language into account. Recent scientific research shows that early communication by means of sign language supports development of deaf children and has a positive impact on the child’s competences of understanding the written form of Polish (it is called a strategy of bilingualism). Ignoring sign language in development of deaf children and simplifying vocabulary in Polish enhances difficulties that deaf persons may have in understanding Polish. People whose problems with hearing started later in life (after they started speaking) mostly use Polish.


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full content of dialogues in the form of subtitles because of technical limitations. Yet it seems reasonable to take into account requests of deaf persons and not to edit subtitles unless it is absolutely necessary. The results of our research show that subtitles with only redundancies removed (repetitions, hesitation, stammer, etc.) are very good and are accepted by many people with hearing disability.

Identification of characters

It’s obvious that a film is not only about dialogues and an image. A film is also sound that is important to the plot. Authors of rules for creating subtitles for deaf and hard of hearing persons have aptly stated that subtitles are created to make it possible for people with hearing disability to experience the fullest possible reception of audiovisual works. For that purpose words need to be used in a way that most perfectly reflects the soundtrack.

The most important thing in preparing subtitles for deaf and hard of hearing persons is to remember why we do them and for whom.

That is why subtitles, apart from dialogues, should include non-verbal utterances (exclamations, murmurs expressing emotions), information about important sounds, noises and musical background. How to do that? In order to describe sounds, noises and musical background, one may use upper case or regular fonts but in brackets in order to differentiate it from dialogues (examples 3 and 4).

Another important issue that needs to be taken into account while preparing subtitles is identification of characters. Now there are several strategies that make it easier for viewers with hearing disability to identify sentences uttered by the main character or the characters which are difficult to identify like e.g. characters at the background or not on the screen at a given moment (e.g. a person in a different room, voice on the phone or a narrator). Colours or labels may be used or subtitles may be placed differently depending on where the speaker is standing. It is illustrated by examples 1 and 2:

It is a good idea to describe a characteristic way of speaking (e.g. “STAMMERING:”) LOCAL DIALECTS (e.g. “IN SILESIAN:”), intentions contrary to the content (e.g. “IRONICALLY:”) as well as sounds creating an ambience of



– And what do I hear ? – I’m making breakfast.




WOJTEK: Each Christmas carol has a road motif in it.


Images from the film Letters to St. Nicolas (Polish original Listy do M.) (dir. Mitja Okorn) from the resources of the Seventh Sense Foundation.


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the place or atmosphere of the moment (e.g. “SWOOSH OF TREES” or “LOUD RHYTHMIC MUSIC”). Obviously not every sound is important to the plot and there is no need to describe each individual sound, especially if sounds result clearly from the image.

Foreign language There is also a problem of films with many languages. For instance, what should we do with subtitles translated into Polish if there is a sentence in French uttered in a film in English? It depends on whether the sentence has been translated for the English-speaking audience. If the answer is yes, the utterance should also be translated into Polish. But what about a sentence in French that was not translated for the English-speaking audience? There are several options of presenting that in the form of subtitles for deaf and hard of hearing persons. One can give the content of the utterance in French (e.g. Bonjour), translate it and mention that it is in a foreign language (e.g. IN FRENCH: Good morning), translate it and mark with a different colour, mention what language it is (e.g. IN FRENCH) or just translate it without mentioning that it was uttered in a different language (e.g. Good morning).

Rules for creating subtitles Other rules for creating and locating subtitles for deaf persons are the same as rules for creating other subtitles. Most of the time it is two verses, with not more than 3840 characters each, if possible, the upper verse should be shorter than the lower because it covers the more important part of the screen. The most important thing is to divide subtitles into verses – if possible, what we see on the screen should be one sentence, set phrases should not be separated. The subtitles should not begin or end precisely at the place where consecutive sequences are connected on the film, there should be an interval of about 2-4 frames between consecutive sentences, the rhythm of subtitles appearing on the screen should be adjusted to the rhythm of the film. Yet the most important thing in preparing subtitles for deaf and hard of hearing persons is to remember why we do them and for whom. This article is based on the information included on the website of the Audiovisual Translation Research Lab (AVT Lab, www.avt.ils.uw.edu.pl) and on rules of preparing subtitles for deaf persons drawn up by the Culture Without Barriers Foundation (http://kulturabezbarier. org/).

Anna Jankowska – an assistant lecturer at the UNESCO Chair for Translation Studies and International Communication at the Jagiellonian University (UJ). A graduate of the Institute of French Studies at UJ. She is interested in audiovisual translation, especially subtitles for the deaf and audio description. She is writing a PhD thesis on English –Polish translation in audio description. She teaches audiovisual translation and works as a translator of texts and audiovisual translator. A member of the European Association for Studies in Screen Translation and the chairperson of the Seventh Sense Foundation. Contact: anna.m.jankowska@uj.edu.pl. Agnieszka Szarkowska – an assistant professor at the Section of Translation Studies at the Institute of Applied Linguistics at the University of Warsaw (UW). A graduate of the Institute of English Studies at UW. She is interested in audiovisual translation, especially subtitles for deaf and hard of hearing persons. Her research projects are focused on accessibility of the mass media to blind and deaf users. In her free time she takes photos and goes for walks. A member of the European Association for Studies in Screen Translation, European Society for Translation Studies and an honorary member of the Polish Audiovisual Translator Association. Contact: a.szarkowska@uw.edu.pl.

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E-textbooks Make Educational Opportunities More Equal Krzysztof Wojewodzic, coordinator of the E-Textbooks in Comprehensive Education project E-textbooks offer equal educational opportunities for all children in Poland, including those with disabilities. Created respecting accessibility principles, electronic textbooks will make it possible for each schoolchild to freely access educational content, any time, any place. E-textbooks will be available both through websites and offline.

Photograph from K. Wojewodzic’s presentation on e-textbooks, available under the CC-BY-ND licence

It will be possible to use them easily on all kinds of devices – tablets, netbooks, notebooks, desktops, and even smartphones. Thanks to making e-textbooks available as part of a free license system called Open Educational Resources (Polish abbreviation OZE), they will be free of charge and available to all who wish to learn from them as well as freely modify or use them. Most importantly, however, e-textbooks will be also of practical benefit to learners with disabilities. Thoughtfully prepared, e-textbooks are going to be accessible to all. This means that disabled and non-disabled learners will be able to work together, at the same time and using the same educational materials. Thanks to its appropriate formatting, the content will be received by means of

screen readers while the audiodescription of all the multimedia will make it possible for such learners to make full use of video-fed content as well. E-textbook navigation will be done with the mouse, keyboard and touch screen, a very important solution for users such as those with mobility disabilities and partially sighted. The e-textbook can also offer disabled learners the opportunity of equal access to education in public schools. Until now, difficulties experienced when adjusting educational materials to the needs of disabled users have been one of the major barriers impeding inclusive education. The teacher’s options when it comes to textbook selection has been much limited due to the significant adaptation costs. And so rather than being replaced at the pace of changes made to the core school curriculum, accessible textbooks have been replaced at the pace of their wear and tear. The introduction of e-textbooks is going to remove this obstacle. All the learners will be able to easily use the same textbooks, by means of the same computers or mobile devices and performing the same tasks. Thanks to this it will be easier to actually include disabled learners, the best way to prevent social exclusion. E-textbooks mark another step in the evolution of access to knowledge and they are a tool that make the educational path less winding for all the young wayfarers.

Krzysztof Wojewodzic – four-time bursary holder of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education and a British Psychological Society bursary holder for research on education. Co-author of three books and several dozen articles. He coordinates the E-Textbooks in Comprehensive Education project implemented as part of the governmental scheme called Digital School. The text drafted in cooperation with the Warsaw-based Integracja Foundation.


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French-Polish E-learning Programme for Managerial Staff as Global–Scale Innovation Discussants: Gerard Lefranc, director of Mission Insertion1 at Thales Group, Isabelle Dubois-Mejia, e-learning training manager at Thales Université, Małgorzata Perdeus-Białek, , trainer and equal-opportunities specialist at the Jagiellonian University Disability Support Service. Gerard Lefranc (GL): Two years ago we decided to start cooperation with the Jagiellonian University preparing a disability awareness training course for staff and managers. We combined disability and corporate social responsibility. We organised conferences on the subject in Kraków and decided it was necessary to prepare a training programme and e-learning modules using the technology applicable for all the distance learning courses offered at Thales Université. Isabelle is an expert on distance learning training, she has created very many such courses and she also helped us with the one focusing on disability awareness. It was the first time at Thales Group that we had tackled the accessibility issue in the e-learning format. We conclude it was highly important to make the training course fully accessible for persons with various disabilities and we have been successful, although that was after all one of the major challenges of the project, as we also wanted to maintain a high level of interactivity and graphic attractivity. Our company has learnt a great deal from both partner schools, that is the Jagiellonian and Pierre and Marie Curie Universities. They both have very substantive knowledge and experience in working with disabled students and it was of key importance to transfer that knowledge to our company. Małgorzata Perdeus-Białek (MPB): Indeed, Isabelle made a massive contribution to the training course and we will come back to what she has learnt herself but now lether tell the readers about herself and the training programme itself. Mission Insertion – a Thales department in charge of disability policy. 1

Isabelle Dubois-Mejia (IDM): I work at Thales Université, Thales Group internal company university, where I am in charge of e-learning. The University develops training schemes for the staff and managers concerning various subjects. Just over a year ago Gerard asked our eLearning departmentto prepare an e-learning course focusing on disability awareness. I began by developing the broadest possible approach to that issue because we are an international company and so the understanding of the subject might be different depending on the country, particularly in terms of legal regulations. We had to develop a training course as wide-ranging as possible, in order to cover all the countries and different environments, both the business and universities since the course is supposed to be disseminated there, too. We also decided, as Gerard has already said, to make sure the modules are fully accessible. We thought initially that would not be much of a problem, after all today Internet sites are easily accessible, if done right. Yet we failed to realise that it would be an entirely different story with e-learning as e-learning is a specific environment and although it is an Internet-based technology the difference between a regular Internet site and e-learning is such that the latter assumes interaction with the training course user. You must be able to navigate the training course, you must answer questions and things like these have not been considered in designing Internet sites thus far. This turned out to be a problem and we realised that we were actually developing the first fully accessible e-learning course. They may have training courses like this in the US already but they are very simple with little room left for interaction. We believe that in order to convey the right message to our colleagues we must prepare an e-learning course as attractive as the training programmes we have done so far. These are high-quality Equality News

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Snapshots from an e-learning training course developed by Thales UniversitĂŠ

training courses with people speaking and animation. We did not want to have lessquality because of the required full accessibility. We concluded that it would not be a right message, that full accessibility should not be associated with poorer quality. It was a difficult task, but we were highly motivated to make it a success. It took quite some time, more than a year, which is a very long period for an e-learning course. Our working group, however, had members from Poland and France, and so it had to be organised in terms of logistics, and there were many technological difficulties along the way. We had to use other tools than those applied before as with the typical tools we use we could not develop a fully accessible training course, and so we had to do many things ourselves. The Polish-French working group designed a course in terms of its substance, whilst the technical stuff was subcontracted. The subcontractor, in turn, had to first learn how to do it, as they had never done it before and had never been asked to perform such a task, i.e. to prepare a fully accessible e-learning course. The final product has four parts. The first one is an introduction aiming at identifying misconceptions and promoting the new vision supported by the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. The second module focuses on the general description of different disabilities, particularly in the context


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of the limitations stemming from them and ways to compensate for them. The third module is about daily work together, presenting a few situations featuring staff members and managers. Obviously, we cannot answer all the questions and show all the situations, we just selected several typical problems and challenges, and try to sort them out. The last module has been mainly designed for the staff of Thales Group and the partner universities to promote their disability policies. The training course aims to not just present best practice but also allow the trainees to assess their prejudices, so that they can get rid of their mental constraints and help disabled persons overcome their own physical limitations. We try to change people’s attitudes, not necessarily give them ready-made solutions, because in practice they do not exist. What is required is better knowledge of disability-related issues, in particular amongst managerial staff. As regards the way the course was prepared, each page contains the text record (script) of what is being said. The source code facilitates easy reading by screen readers, and using human readers is useful for blind and partially sighted users. The tasks we developed make it easy for persons with mobility disabilities to mark the answers or do the task-based exercises. Our training course features three characters: Linda is a manager, Tom is a disabled person, whilst Kate is

a tutor. Tom stands for disability, but as you can see, he is no different than the others, you cannot see what his disability is exactly. The entire course lasts around seventy-five minutes, each module taking around twenty minutes. The section on law turned out to be rather difficult, as we realised that in individual countries there are very different approaches to disability, particularly in AngloSaxon countries. When I talked to HR people from the UK or the US they told me that such training course is a form of discrimination, as if created an e-learning programme on how to treat people with a different skin colour so it turned out the subject is a very sensitive one indeed. That is why the legal aspect is presented in very general terms, to be used by all the Thales Group staff and collaborators across the world as well as by our partner universities in France and Poland. And so we assumed that the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities is a legal act binding for all the institutions in these countries. Another difficulty was posed by the fact that different countries have different disability classifications, another major challenge if you wanted a single universal

version. There is a separate slide for each type of disability, all the slides are designed in the same way, and medical aspects are discussed as little as possible. We are moving away from the medical approach to the social one. For example, as regards visual disability we first have a differentiation between its individual types, then we present disability-related difficulties and finally we showcase some adaptations that could be made in terms of behaviour of equipment at workplace. The third part features scenes presenting various situations involving the characters, the task of the trainee being deciding whether the answers were right. One example shows the manager and disabled Tom, who is colour blind but must prepare some statistics to share with his team. The suggested solution is to use different shapes of the points marked on the chart. We show a very simple situation so that people can understand that disability is not always an “extreme situation�, like moving in a wheelchair, that i can be some very basic disability, not necessary visible. We want to show that disability is something we must cope with on a daily basis. Each module ends with the different golden rules the trainee has learnt throughout the course and to conclude the training the trainee does a quiz.

Isabelle Dubois-Mejia presents the e-learning course at a DARe-Learning project partners’ meeting in Paris, December 2012.

by M. Bylica

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When it comes to various tasks, there are multiple-choice tests. They are a bit different because we start with the text of the answer, and the place to be completed is after it. We learnt that it made answer selection easier and we were asked to prepare texts in such a format. We were supported in all this by a French agency specialising in accessible Internet-based materials, yet even they had never been asked to prepare an accessible e-learning course. So they were also meeting the challenge for the first time and helped us a lot in the course preparation. They suggested appropriate contrasting colours, advised on content distribution, or how to prepare the tests I have mentioned. They also showed us how to create a source code so that it is useful for persons using screen readers. The most difficult qui to prepare was a task where different sentences or objects are connected and the way we had done it before was completely inaccessible. We had to come up with another idea to make it happen.

MPB: And what about disappointments?

The training course aims to not just present best practice but also allow the trainees to assess their prejudices, so that they can get rid of their mental constraints and help disabled persons overcome their own physical limitations.

The last module described support networks both in the company and universities, and how people can be more involved, if, for example, they wish to become tutors. In our e-learning training course one learns in a variety of ways, be it through reading or listening, and images supplement the spoken text, so when the content is directed using just one channel, it may be conveyed incompletely. For instance, if the spoken text supplements the image seen on the screen, sometimes we get more information and it may also work the other way around, that is the image can convey more information than the sound commentary itself. And so it is a very specific thing, considering the fact that we wanted the course to be fully accessible. MPB: We have learnt a lot whilst preparing the e-learning course. For example, I learnt quite a lot on how your company operates, how you train your managers, who were very interesting to talk to as well. And what have you learnt? IDM: I have definitely learnt a lot, I would not have been able to develop this e-learning course on the basis of the knowledge I had. As regards disability, I did not know more than other people. I had thought that I was not that much guided by stereotypes before I realised that it was not exactly the case. Let us take the test – do you think being blind in Asia, Africa, Europe and the US is the same?


Before I started working on the course I would have said yes, of course it is the same thing. And so I realised that I have really learnt a lot myself. I also think that I have discovered something truly important. I suspect that, like most people, I associated disability with frustration and I realised that in reality a disabled person of course sometimes felt some kind of frustration facing limitations but it is much more important to focus on how to overcome them. And so whilst we, from the outside, perceive only such limitations and frustration, I think that persons with disabilities mostly focus on overcoming them in order to function as well as they can. Because of this they have a much more positive approach to life than we think.

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IDM: Well, it took almost a year, which I find disappointing. MPB: Yet it is innovation all the same.

IDM: Indeed, this is innovative at a large scale. In terms of tools and technology we used the American programme called “Lectora”, but in the US they are very pragmatic and what they do is very basic. The tool was designed to develop accessible e-learning training programmes but as we wanted the course to be of best quality, this was much more complicated. And so now we are testing another tool called “Storyline”, which in itself contains mechanisms that ensure accessibility, and we hope that from now on it will be easier for us to develop accessible e-learning courses. In truth, once we had finalised the course I asked my superiors “what next?”, because given the content of the course, that is its focus on social responsibility, a logical consequence would be now to prepare all our training programmes in the accessible format. This is really currently done only partially, because yes, there is a reader in them, but they are in the inaccessible flash technology. And they agreed so we are now trying to develop accessible training courses also for other areas and in the preliminary needs analysis we are asking whether the training course should be accessible for disabled persons. The problem is the tools are not fully ready and it takes more time as well as is more expensive. It is most dependent on the subject but all the training courses we have developed since then are accessible. I am currently working on a course for new staff members and it will be accessible, too, but not developed using “Lectora”, but that new tool. MPB: So it is a major change for the institutions?

IDM: Indeed, not just for Thales Group, but also for the firms we cooperated with, they really learnt a lot as well. Thanks to that collaboration they can now offer a new service to their clients. MPB: So you have invested time and money and it is a big change for the institution; and what do you count on in the long-term perspective?

Photograph from the archive I. Dubois-Mejia

GL: Most staff at Thales Group are engineers, so it is very important for us to attract good engineers. New generations pay a lot of attention to information about the company and what it does in terms of social responsibility and sustainable development, and disability is part of it, just like equal rights for women and men. Also, disability awareness facilitates understanding between people, also a good thing for the company.

Isabelle Dubois-Mejia

MPB: Yes, we can appreciate that process at the Jagiellonian University, too: when training course participants give up stereotypes, bridges and understanding are built for a betted co-existence in a given community. Now using the e-learning course based on such modern technology and developed jointly it will be even easier for us to build such bridges and I thank you for that.

Apart from the discussants presented above, the following persons have been instrumental in the preparation of the training course: Fabienne Corre-Menguy, head of the Disability Support Service at the Pierre and Marie Curie University of Paris, and Ireneusz Białek, head of the Disability Support Service at the Jagiellonian University of Kraków. Other collaborators of the working group were Dagmara Nowak-Adamczyk, Marta Bylica (Jagiellonian University Disability Support Service) and Sophie Bravy UPMC Disability Support Service). Overall supervision was exercised by an evaluation group made of Thales Group staff and representatives of the partner universities (the UPMC and the JU). More information and access to modules available at www.SpaceOfInclusion.eu.

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The web accessibility journey in the UK: how far have we travelled? Dr Shirley Evans Since 1999, there have been a number of key milestones in web accessibility in the United Kingdom (UK). This short article looks at some of the milestones along the accessibility journey and considers how far the UK has travelled and how close it is to its destination, that is, web access for all.

In 1999 the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was passed in which it was made a legal requirement for UK websites to be accessible. Since then developers have been expected to make “reasonable adjustments” to ensure their websites accommodate all users. In response to the issues The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) published the first set of guidelines in 1999 and followed this up with version 2.0 in 2008. In spite of the legal requirement and the guidelines there appears that there was limited impact as in an investigation into 1000 websites carried out in 2003 by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) only 19% met the WAI minimum standard. However there was an enormous amount of interest sparked amongst a wide range of stakeholders, not least in the educational arena. Legislation was passed in 2001, part IV of the DDA widely known as the Special Educational Needs Disability Act (SENDA) designed to bring education under the remit of the DDA. Accessibility and inclusion in education in the UK is driven forward by JISC TechDis. The Equality Act ,which came into force in 2010, apart from consolidating previous legislation, introduces a slightly different test of what ‘disability’ means. The new definition focuses on any difficulty in carrying out day-today activities, rather than on any defined conditions or impairments. In other words it places an obligation on information providers to ensure their web products are accessible. The timely publication of the BS 8878 Web Accessibility. Code of Practice in 2010 is the first British Standard to address the growing challenge of digital inclusion. It was designed to introduce non-technical professionals to improved web accessibility, usability and user experience for disabled and older people. It gives guidance on process, rather than on technical and design issues and therefore is especially beneficial to anyone new to the subject. BS 8878 is also intended for anyone responsible for the policies covering web product creation within their organisation, and governance against those policies, such as Chief Executive Officers, Managing Directors, Head Teachers and ICT managers.


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In spite of all this legislation and standards web accessibility was not improving quickly enough and as a result Fix the Web was launched in 2010. The aim of Fix the Web is to introduce cultural change across the web, making it a more accessible and inclusive place where the needs of disabled people are taken into consideration and vital change can be made. Their solution is to make it really easy for people facing accessibility issues (such as many disabled and older people) to report problems with websites. As at December 2012 there have been 2294 websites reported and 128 owners have fixed their site. In August 2012 the RNIB launched the 180 Day Campaign to encourage companies to use the following six months to get their website and apps to a minimum standard to ensure blind and partially sighted customers have greater accessibility to their goods and services.

Looking at the landscape there appears to be much wider awareness amongst content providers than there was 15 years ago. Accessible websites exist for many larger companies and organisations and in many areas of education. It would appear that a multi-prong approach is necessary. It is recognised that adherence to guidelines and standards whilst a valuable start does not always ensure that a website is accessible. End user testing is vital at all stages so that accessibility is truly built in and not bolted on as an afterthought. The final question is then how close to its destination is web accessibility in the UK? Since technology is constantly changing and evolving and presenting new challenges it may be preferable to view web accessibility as a journey rather than a destination. Over the last 15 years web accessibility in the UK has travelled a considerable distance across an ever changing landscape, how far there is to go, though, may be impossible to measure.

Dr Shirley Evans – she has worked in the field of education, technology and inclusion for the last 15 years on a local, regional, national and international basis and as a student, practitioner, manager and policy shaper. She has a PhD in education focusing on e-learning and blindness, a Master’s degree in Education and a PGCE (Secondary). She is currently work at JISC TechDis working on a range projects across the sectors. She is also an Associate Lecturer with the Open University. She is a very active member of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) where she is a Trustee and Chair of the Membership Committee.

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targets students who require educational support because of disability or health issues. We also invite academic teachers and administration personnel who wish to improve their qualifications as regards the accessibility of university programmes vis à vis the needs of persons with disabilities. THE BENEFITS OF COOPERATION BETWEEN STUDENTS AND THE DSS ARE: z drafting of an educational support strategy z format-adapted courses and examinations z cooperation of the Service’s student affairs consultants with academic teachers/lecturers z guidance concerning modern technological solutions z English language classes for blind, partially sighted, deaf and hard of hearing students in a multimedia language workroom z adaptation of teaching materials to electronic or Braille formats for blind persons z agency or mediation in communication with other University units, if necessary

ul. Retoryka 1/210, 31-108 Kraków • tel.: (0048) 12 424 29 50 • e-mail: bon@uj.edu.pl

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OUR MISSION STATEMENT z The mission of our Service is to enable disabled students of the Jagiellonian University equal access to its educational offer, regardless of the kind and degree of disability. z We strive to ensure that no student is disqualified at the beginning or during their studies because of disabilities or learning difficulties. z We oppose all kinds of open or hidden discrimination. z We support the constitutional right of disabled people to education, work and full participation in social life as we deeply believe this to be justified on both human and economic grounds. z In our activities we are guided by the provisions of the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ratified by Poland in September 2012. z We also support all efforts aimed at the enforcement of the provisions of the Convention. z In our way of thinking and actions we are inspired by the ideals of Jagiellonian Poland, tolerant and open for all citizens.