As McMaster courses and meetings are transitioning to online and virtual spaces, please take a moment to review the ways you can engage digital formats, technologies and platforms to enhance the accessibility and experience of individuals with disabilities, particularly those who use assistive technologies to online spaces.
To support you best in creating and maintaining accessible online education and tutorial spaces, the following best practices and skill-building tutorials and resources have been put together for you to enhance the accessibility and usability of McMaster-supported technologies (e.g. Microsoft Teams and Zoom). Please also note resources and training to support you in creating and publishing accessible digital content (e.g. documents, emails and presentations).
For more information on accessibility and inclusion pedagogy and instructional techniques, please visit McMaster’s FLEX Forward Accessible and Inclusive Education resource or visit the MacPherson Institute Teaching and Learning Centre’s Instructional Continuity page.
- For faculty and instructional staff who require support in accommodating students with disabilities registered in their courses, please contact Student Accessibility Services.
- For faculty and instructional staff who require workplace accommodations to support their own disability-related needs, please contact Employee Health Services.
Instructor Captioning Requirements
- Following the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), having captioned lectures or videos makes them more universally accessible for students, and will help to level the playing ground for those who may identify deaf/Deaf, hard-of hearing, have cognitive / learning disabilities, who do not speak English as a first language, and/or who may have poor internet/audio access at home.
- Recorded material (like a lecture video, a recorded talk, or a video with audio) distributed as part of a course must be captioned.
- This applies to courses offered in-person, as well as online.
Accommodations Processes for Captioning Recorded Material
- The hosting/streaming services that the University is providing and supporting for playback (Echo 360, MacVideo, Microsoft Stream) automatically caption video/audio that is uploaded to these platforms, regardless of how the content was created.
- Accuracy of these automated captions is variable, but is roughly 90-95% accurate.
- Instructors are currently only required to have captions that are generated automatically by these systems, even if they are not 100% accurate. Anything beyond that is up to the discretion of the instructor given the time and resources available.
- Echo360 is the recommended software for lecture capture, as it provides the most seamless integration with Avenue, and also allows for the coordination of services across the different campus offices involved in the process.
- For example, if a student in a course is registered with Student Accessibility Services (SAS) who requires captioning, SAS will coordinate with Library Accessibility Services (LAS) and Campus Classroom Technologies (CCT) to ensure AODA requirements are met. SAS will contact individual instructors if this process is initiated for a student who requires 100% accurate captions, and will put the instructor in touch with Echo360 support personnel at CCT.
- A department might consider adding additional student support for manually revising automated captions/transcripts on video if resources become available.
- Please consult the Remote Teaching and Captioning Guide for an overview of McMaster-supported platforms as per their captioning capabilities.
- For any and all other questions related to requirements for captioning (including clarifications around the use of live captioning) please connect with Kate Brown, AccessMac Program Manager, Equity and Inclusion Office at email@example.com.
Platforms for Online and Virtual Instruction
What is Avenue to Learn?
Avenue to Learn is the learning management system used by most Faculties at McMaster. This learning management system is managed by the MacPherson Institute and support in setting up and managing an Avenue course shell can be accessed in the below “Get Support” section.
Accessibility for Avenue to Learn
Avenue to Learn is a well-designed and accessible learning management system, which can be rendered inaccessible to learners using assistive technology when digitally inaccessible content is uploaded to and shared within your Avenue course shell.
- In order to avoid uploading inaccessible digital content:
- Learn about Core Skills for Accessibility through Microsoft 365 Accessible Document and Outlook Email Training when creating your own content / digital documents and presentations
- Quickly and efficiently convert your inaccessible documents (e.g. an inaccessible PDF) to accessible formats and/or alternative formats (MP3s, Microsoft Word docs, HTML) using institutionally supported SensusAccess conversion software
- Be mindful that most PDF options are not accessible formats for individuals using various types of assistive technology unless they’ve been intentionally made accessible by the document’s author.
- Please connect with Student Accessibility Services and Library Accessibility Services to discuss document conversion options if you are working with learners in your teaching and learning environments who require academic accommodations for accessible and/or alternative formats.
Get Support from the MacPherson Institute
- Request a course shell if you do not already have one.
- If you need additional support, complete an Avenue to Learn support request form
- For more information on holding exams and creating tests on Avenue, please visit MacPherson’s Instructional Continuity page
For Additional Accessibility Support
- Avenue (Desire to Learn) has created an accessibility checker in Brightspace HTML Editor. Watch the YouTube tutorial below to see how it works!
- For those using screen readers, please check out this YouTube tutorial on Brightspace screen reader accessibility features
- Avenue (Desire to Learn) has created an accessibility compliance page, which includes the VPAT’s and WCAG 2.1 checklists
- To learn more about accessibility and navigation, check out this comprehensive Brightspace webpage
- For instructors, consider checking out these accessible content templates available for use in your courses
What is Echo 360?
Echo360 is a Lecture Capture System. The system records audio and display, for viewing in digital format. This provides students with a powerful tool that can be used for review, or to supplement materials covered in class.
As a McMaster Instructor, you get access to Echo360 absolutely free.
- Instructors can get started in learning more about and accessing Echo360 lecture capture software for your personal devices by contacting Classroom Campus Technologies (CCT) within the McMaster Libraries. CCT staff within the libraries will assist you with downloading software, software set-up, and supporting training for this platform.
- Please visit the main Echo360 page on the Libraries’ website for more information about set-up and training.
Accessibility for Echo360
CCT, Library Accessibility Services, and the Faculty of Sciences have developed several useful and accessible guides to enabling accessibility features within Echo360, including:
- This webpage on Best Practices for Creating and Editing Accessible Echo360 Transcripts
- This guide to creating video content online using Echo360 and your personal device
- This Guide to One Click Echo Integration available in Avenue
- Also please see the Remote Teaching and Captioning Guide for support with captioning in Echo360
If you have learners in your online / virtual learning environments who have academic accommodations for captioning lecture capture-recorded materials, please connect with Student Accessibility Services and Library Accessibility Services for support.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is a unified communication and collaborative hub (and part of the Office365 suite of programs – free for McMaster faculty, staff and students)
Accessibility for Microsoft Teams
- Microsoft Teams Installation and Use Tutorial (with accessibility pieces featured)
- Teaching with Teams – a video tutorial developed by the MacPherson Institute with accessibility and inclusion features highlighted
- To learn how to teach accessibly, please see the Teaching in Microsoft Teams webinar in our Microsoft 365 Accessible Documents series
- Also please see the Remote Teaching and Captioning Guide for support with captioning in Teams
Get Support from the MacPherson Institute
All eligible McMaster faculty, staff and active students now have access to licensed Zoom accounts. Please note that:
- In some cases, users may need to request a Zoom license. Generic, Departmental and Role-Based accounts are not eligible for a Zoom license.
- We are still recommending students go with Microsoft Teams for web and video conferencing needs.
See the IT Continuity site for more information.
Accessibility for Zoom
- Zoom Installation and Use Tutorial
- Zoom Accessibility Features
- Also please see the Remote Teaching and Captioning Guide for support with automated transcriptions using an Otter.ai integration for Zoom
Get Support from UTS and the MacPherson Institute
Pre-recording Lectures for Asynchronous Instruction
What is Kaltura Capture?
Kaltura Capture is a program that allows for easy video and audio creation without specialized equipment. It combines an intuitive user interface with a user-centric experience and interactive viewing to enable easy video creation on campus, from the office, at home or on-the-go. Any media created with Kaltura Capture is automatically stored in your personal MacVideo Media Library and can be easily integrated in Avenue to Learn
Kaltura Capture is included in MacVideo, which is freely available to all McMaster instructors, staff and students.
- You can learn more about Kaltura Capture for your personal devices at the MacVideo support site or by contacting the MacPherson Institute
Accessibility for Kaltura Capture
The MacPherson Institute has developed or curated the following resources on accessibility features and guidance related to Kaltura Capture and MacVideo use:
- Guide to How to Add Auto Captioning to your Video
- Guide on How to Edit Captions
- This Guide to Integrating MacVideo in Avenue to Learn
If you have learners in your online / blended learning environments who have academic accommodations for captioning recorded materials, please connect with Student Accessibility Services and Library Accessibility Services for support.
What is Microsoft Stream?
- For information on how to use Microsoft Stream, please visit this helpful tutorial from LinkedIn Learning
Accessibility for Stream
- Please find easy to follow information on how to create and edit auto-generated transcripts and captions from the Remote Teaching and Captions at McMaster Guide
Creating Accessible Documents and Presentation Training
The Faculty of Sciences and the AccessMac Program (Equity and Inclusion Office) have collaborated to create an extensive and simplified webinar series that will guide learners through the various accessibility features and formatting techniques for Microsoft products.
- Introduction to Accessibility in Online Learning Environments and the Social Model of Disability
- Accessible Microsoft Word Documents
- Exporting Microsoft Word to PDF on PC and Mac Computers
- Accessible Microsoft Outlook Emails
- How to use the Plain Text Email Signature Template
- Accessible Microsoft PowerPoint
- Accessible Microsoft Excel
- Accessible Presentation Techniques
- Teaching in Microsoft Teams
To access full text outlines for creating accessible documents and presentations, please access Social Sciences-developed training on:
Peer Support for Faculty and Instructors with Disabilities
The Employee Accessibility Network is an online and in-person network of employees (faculty and staff) with disabilities at McMaster University. The Network supports peer networking and professional development for members, and acts additionally as an accessibility consultation group to the McMaster Accessibility Council. Please visit the Employee Accessibility Network page to learn more and join.