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February 2020 WAPL Transcript

Nick Noel: Welcome to the WAPL cast for February 2020. My name is Nick Noel and I'm an instructional designer with Michigan State University. This is the recording of the February 7th WAPL meeting, and at this meeting we discussed the refresh of the Webaccess website, the AT&T awards, which celebrate excellence in teaching with technology and can be found at if you or anyone you know would like to apply for one, service level agreements with DigitalX and the launch of Blackboard Ally. If you have questions of anything we discussed at this meeting, please feel free to email The Digital Experience Team at

Nate Evans: All right, welcome, everybody. How's it going? WAPL 49 I honestly thought after lunch everybody would be like, yeah, we're here. Woo. Everybody saw a little sleepy after lunch. Maybe digesting going on. It's this, the smell. Oh, the snow. Yeah. I'll take, I'll take the sun. I'm bummed about the blocking of the light, but we'll get back out there soon. Welcome to the web accessibility policy liaisons meeting. I want to share this slide. Brooke actually shared it with me this week when I was, we made some presentations, a few different presentations this week, and one of them was to the university communicators network yesterday, which was a great invitation. We're grateful to be there and I like this image. Actually. This is the first time that I'd seen this image and I'll describe each of them briefly, but the reason why I tell you this, I'll give you the short version.

Nate Evans: This is just a reminder why we're here, why we're doing this work. The first is an image along the left and it's focused on equality and really the focus of the images on the boxes. They're three small boxes along the bottom, all equal in size and shape, but the people that are standing on the boxes are all different sizes and ages and different heights and so they don't have the same view of the field over the fence. The second image is moving more towards equity and what that is, is the boxes are the same. They're still the same number of boxes, still the same size, still same material, same shape, but the difference is, the focus is the view of the field over the fence. And so we're moving more towards equity and I love this, this last one all the way to the right and here the focus is on the fence itself, which I think is interesting and this is the new version of the image that I hadn't actually seen before.

Nate Evans: I love this because it replaces the fence entirely and if we're really going to think about equity here at Michigan State University, I think this is a great image for us to kind of keep in mind. The idea is the view over the fence, right? The view of the field, the view of what's going on. You might think about those as student experiences, the experience of people who read your emails, read your communications, things like that. But what I love here is for us to really move towards an equitable environment, I think we really have to focus on the fences that we're building and think about the materials that those are made out of. I love that image. It's something that you can use in presentations as you start your presentations to your colleagues to talk about this idea of equity, but this is becoming a different place.

Nate Evans: You can kind of start to, at least I start to feel it in the air. You know, there's changes in positions, things like that. At the top we have a new chief equity officer, diversity officer. Do I have that title right? Coming right. A search for that. It feels like it's starting to become a different place in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion and accessibility is certainly a part of that.

Nate Evans: All right. As we get started here, the agenda for what we plan to walk through, we want to talk a little bit about Webaccess, the primary resource site that we provide and make changes to. We have a refresh coming, so we want to talk a little bit about that. We're going to talk about the AT&T awards, what that might mean for your faculty and the fact that a deadline is coming up very soon. We want to remind you about service level agreements with MSU IT, what that looks like in terms of hiring students to help you do remediation of your documents, communications, things like that. We also want to talk about a new product that we're going to be launching soon. We are lovingly going to call it Spartan Ally and Kevin's going to share some updates on that in a little bit. And then we also have Leslie Johnson from the resource center for persons with disabilities. She's going to share some updates with us today. So without further ado: James Bender: So Webaccess, the refresh. Anybody here working with me on that committee? Raise your hand. High. Higher. Higher.

James Bender: You guys are all shy. So we're developing this by a committee and we want a new fresh perspective. It's been a few years since our website has been updated and we found over the past few years we had a refresh started about what was it Brooke, three years ago?

Speaker 4: Yeah. [inaudible 00:05:15]

James Bender: At least two, right? Yes. So now we at, we put together a committee. Brooke did a lot of the work originally. And so we're going to be using the framework and Jeff is our subject matter expert on the framework, cause everybody wants a lot of bells and whistles and we're like what can you do that? What can the framework do it? We don't know. So we have to talk to Jeff a lot. Anybody else has done recently done a refreshing of their website? You did? Was it a lot of work? Oh yeah. Kellogg center. Okay.

James Bender: And so anyway, we're looking at that perspective. We have to use it and so I guess it's going to be an even newer framework coming out. It's been out there for a while, right Jeff? What's the other system called? The next one? Iteration. Cydcor, Cincor, Sitecore, all right. So we could do all this work now on this site, core is going to come out and we may end up moving it over or doing more work. So once we get done and what we did, our perspective is we didn't want to have a whole lot of one or two individuals doing it. So we put together a committee. We have a question?

Speaker 10: I’m not sure of the context of this refresh.

James Bender: As far as what?

Speaker 10: As far as what Webaccess is.

James Bender: Oh, you're not sure what our Webaccess website is. Have you ever used our website before? Webaccess? Yeah. Yep. Same thing. So we're just building a new site. Okay, everybody hear the question over there? He just wanted to know what the new refresh was. One of the things we did do too is we reached out to different committees to help us. So we put together focus groups and we said, and Jeff helped us with some analytics. Jeff and Jim worked very difficult, I mean diligently with these analytics to say where sites were most visited.

James Bender: So that's what we did. We used all of your feedback and so we're trying to look at data, where does the data, follow the data. The data is going to help us to redesign and I was hoping to have a look for you today, but we're not there yet. It's just taken a lot longer than I anticipated. So any questions? No questions. All right. As we continue to move forward, we'll keep you informed. Hopefully by the end of the semester we, I don't want to give a deadline date, but my goal is to hopefully by the end of the semester to be done, so we'll bring it up to WAPL when we're ready.

Nick Noel: So every year we have the AT&T awards, they are words that recognize excellence in teaching with technology. So there are awards for best online course, best hybrid course, and then best technology enhanced course. So that can just be any face to face course that uses technology in a novel or effective manner. So you can, you or your faculty or anybody you've worked with to design a course or anybody who's running their own course can apply to it. The application is at this address here []. It's a online Qualtrics form, but we do have a word document that basically has all the information of the application if you'd prefer to review it before you submit. The submission deadline is coming up, so it's February 24th but the application process isn't very onerous. It's four questions that you answer, maximum of about 500 words, but it's usually around, you know, 250 or so and then you make a short five to 10 minute video.

Nick Noel: If you need help making the video, you can contact our office and myself or most likely Alyssa Bradley, we'll contact you and kind of walk you through what, what, what you need to do in order to make that, it's not a complicated video, it doesn't need to be flashy or anything. It can be done over zoom or using any kind of screen capturing software. It's really just to provide a way to explain what your course is and highlight some interesting aspects of it just because the review committee most likely won't have access to your course. Just gives them an opportunity to see how it's actually laid out and what you're, what you're doing. If there's any questions on any of that. Yeah.

Speaker 4: Classes are on labs provides [inaudible 00:09:27]

Nate Evans: This would be a for credit course.

Nick Noel: Yeah. Be a for credit course. Yeah. Yep. Any other questions? Okay. Well if you think of anything, feel free to contact our organization that's and we can walk you through or answer anything or if you know anybody who may want to apply for the award, just send them to that website. Cool. Thanks everyone.

Nate Evans: Thanks Nick. Actually, before we get to Ally, can we cover SLAS real quick and we'll switch the order of that.

Brooke Knapp: Okay, so I'm going to talk about an SLA with our office real quick. We kind of talked about it a few times so I won't go super in depth. But an SLA is a service level agreement with our office and what we offer is a student intern who can help remediate course content or documents to make them more accessible for specific faculty members or departments. So basically we're, we can sign different types of agreements so we can hire a student and we can help manage that student in our office. We train them on accessibility concepts and then we set them up with a course and then we have that student go through that course and remediate the documents, HTML files to make them more accessible and then we build in teaching and learning for that faculty member.

Brooke Knapp: That student sits down with a faculty member and helps train them on the accessibility components that are most found commonly in their course. So if that's PowerPoint Word, whatever that might be. But I should say that I think this is really important to talk about because a lot of the times we were talking about and we're really pushing for a culture change around accessibility at Michigan State, but it's also important to note that we still have students that need accommodations now, so we do want to make sure we're still investing even while we're investing in a cultural chain and actually making those documents or whatever it might be accessible, in the meantime.

Brooke Knapp: I did bring an example of an SLA in case anyone wants to talk about it afterwards. We can set them up differently if you want to manage the intern we can also do that. But we can also, I think recently we've offered learning designers into that, those SLAS too in case faculty are curious about it. So if you have any questions you can talk to me about it afterwards as well.

Kevin Henley: So Spartan Ally, how many of you were familiar with the Blackboard Ally?

Kevin Henley: A couple of hands. So Nate and I'm not sure who the rest of the group was managed to finagle a license for what we're going to call Spartan Ally on campus. It's basically, it's a, it's a plugin that sits on D2L, it scans through all the content on your, in your courses and gives you back a score based on what the accessibility level is within your course. So in a nutshell, it runs through and it checks common accessibility issues and assigns an accessibility score between one and a hundred and it gives a faculty the ability to go back in and gives them step by step instructions on how to remediate that content in a manual fashion.

Kevin Henley: So like any other, like any other digital tool, it's only, it'll only take you so far, but it helps the faculty learn how to become more accessible with their documentation and things that they put on board. Another thing that it does is it, it will take the documents that you put in there and it will convert them to different formats for the students to use. So, that's the on demand alternative document formats. It'll take a well remediated document and then we'll turn it into an Epub, a tagged PDF, a MP4, digital braille, and (I think I have a list here) HTML and also translated version, which I'm not sure what that means is a translate to different languages? Okay.

Speaker 11: Do you know if it can handle PDFs such as a PDF of a PowerPoint presentation?

Speaker 12: It can take them in – I’m not sure what it can do with them..

Kevin Henley: The other thing it does is it helps give an entire glance of the entire catalog across the university. So it helps with compliance. So why is this important to teaching and learning at MSU? I think we probably all know the answer to that, but one of the big things is that it gives a measure of progress and that's being four years into a five year plan. One of the big asks that we've had from faculty all along the way is how do I know how well I'm doing with my accessibility, so this will help them do that. It gives them a glance of their course and it gives them, it gives them access to individual pieces of content as far as accessibility scores for those individual pieces of content.

Kevin Henley: It's also, it helps us shift from a reactive environment where it's, one of the quotes that I read about the software that was interesting to me is that so many of the universities they've gone into are moving away from the firefighter mentality so they're not, they're not being reactive and just trying to avoid lawsuits. Now they've become a more proactive and inclusive environment through the training that the faculty receive using the product. And again, it promotes self-sufficiency. It promotes self-sufficiency for the students from the standpoint that they're offered multiple alternatives for any type of documentation that you put in there and for the faculty from the standpoint that they can take ownership of their accessibility journey through their con, through the digital content that they put within their courses. Let's see, and just in short, as far as our timeline for this, we've, we've already been in talks with Ally and we're looking at doing a test installation very very soon on our test environment.

Kevin Henley: From there we're going to move into the production environment. This is all going to be in the background. None of this will show up to faculty until we, until we turn it on. Part of that software roll out, which is going to happen over the spring and a little bit through the summer, is that we're going to identify some courses to work with and look at training opportunities with Ally as far as best practices for rolling this out to different faculty in different situations and how, and putting together a plan for how we're going to support this going forward. And also a communication plan, which is a big thing for IT. We need to make sure that this is communicated well and that the training is set up really well so that the rollout goes flawlessly if possible. And now we're looking at a full looking at turning it on for the full university for the fall semester. So any questions?

Speaker 4: I'm just curious if you know from any like demos you've seen or what you, what information you've gotten from Blackboard Ally, if you know how much more accurate their automated checker is than those that already exist that we know aren't super accurate and don't catch everything.

Nate Evans: It's a really good question. I don't know the difference, but it's probably varies based on the specific tools. The one that came to mind when you asked the question would be like Microsoft Word or something like the built in checkers. My understanding is it does kind of the same level of checking. The main, the primary difference is kind of a convenience one in that it happens right in the LMS. So the idea of having to take a document down, you know, fix it in word and then do I re-upload it, those kinds of things. It makes it a lot easier to like make fixes on your Word document, PowerPoint document, things like that and then replace the original right in the LMS. So that was one of the key differentiators, is it was all built in and it had got guided manual inspection feedback for in like really faculty specific language.

Nate Evans: We couldn't, we, we haven't seen another product that really you got, you all have seen the training that's available in the market. Right. A lot of it doesn't speak to faculty very well, at least. And in the experiences that I've seen. So this is the first product that we've seen that actually does that really well and does a nice job of coaching them along. So great question. Other questions that have come up? Yeah, Bender.

James Bender: Is it possible anyone from here can be involved as we starting to do things, what's the process going to look like for them?

Kevin Henley: Sorry, we've identified a core group to help us with the soft rollout and we're looking at doing a, they have so many different names for their meetings. We're doing a discovery meeting our next meeting to look at the level of accessibility and the course that we've been taking on campus and we've involved several accessibility professionals, some faculty, other staff as well. And that group is going to grow over time. And I would assume that it will include a number of you if you're willing as we get further down as we get further down the road with this. So, and the, to go back to your question, one of the, one of the core things about this is like, like Nate had mentioned, you get a score for every single piece of every single digital asset that's in your, in your course.

Kevin Henley: And you can click on those to remediate them individually. And one of their big things, like I said, is that you can click on, you know, document X and it will walk them through the things that it thinks are wrong with it. If it's not actually something that's wrong, I would expect that you can flag it as cleared or make a note associated with it. But in that process it's helping to teach the faculty how to create good documents right up front. So the next time they put one in their score could be higher. And then like Nate said, when you put, if you do make changes to a document outside of the system and when you put it back in, you can replace an existing piece and it will automatically run through and generate all of those alternative formats again for that same document. So you're not, you won't have multiple copies of everything sitting out there. So.

Nate Evans: One thing that I had mentioned just kind of, I was thinking about it, I am just looking in the crowd. I know there's a fair amount of folks that are on the teaching and learning side, but there's also probably a majority here that are not and that's okay. And I actually think that this tool, even though it is a D2L integration, and hopefully I know Leslie's running late for another meeting, this is something I'm really interested to hear kind of from her perspective, but also your all's perspective, whether you're communicators or whatever. This could be a tool that you could use within your own unit regardless of, you know, whether you're teaching for credit courses, right. The idea of getting at feedback is the same to fix your documents, whether you're teaching a course or whether you're not. So this, this could be something that we could spin up D2L courses for you to add documents to.

Nate Evans: I know like one of the examples that Blackboard gave to us was, this was from one of the UC system schools that Marcy Greco works at and she was talking a little bit about it there. They're alt text production house, their disability services, they use it a lot just for alt text production because the students can choose on demand which kind of file types they want. They can start to see trends about which, you know university-wide what kind of documents students are requesting most and the second most, third most, things like that. So I think it'd be really helpful even if you're not an academic unit, this could be a platform that you could use to convert your documents into alternative formats. We know that's a universal design principle that's really good to use, so it might speed up that process for you just like it's done for other institutions. So hopefully, hopefully that'll be a really benefit, a big benefit to everybody here on campus. Any other questions on, on Ally before we kind of move on?

Kevin Henley: What do you think about Spartan Ally from the standpoint of it is Blackboard Ally and we don't want to cause any confusion, make people think that we're talking about switching the LMS, because that's not the case. It's just-

Nate Evans: We are not switching LMSs. Is that on the recording?

Kevin Henley: Yeah, basically this has been a big ask from the beginning because as a faculty member, you don't know how far you are in your accessibility journey. There's no, there's no benchmark that you can go in and say, yes, I'm this far and you know for sure. Or you have any sort of visual indication that you've made at 30%, or 40%, or 50% towards, you know, WCAG.

Nate Evans: Awesome. Okay, cool. Thanks everybody.

Kevin Henley: Thank you. Oh, and I am, I'm going to be the project lead on this, so if it's something that you are interested in, if you want to, if you want to get ahold of me, yeah, that'd be great. My email is Henley, H E N L E Y at MSU.

Nate Evans: So the last agenda item, I'm so sad that Leslie's not here. I know she's caught up in another meeting. We wanted to give her the opportunity to announce that she's taken a new position within the RCPD and I cannot find her new job title, but she's the assistant director of Innovative Assistive Technology I believe is the job title. So Steven Blosser will be retiring soon and so she's kind of back filling and I understand the position kind of changed a little bit as well. So she let me know that'd be okay to share with you all today, but I think that's a, they've done the RCPD has done a nice job kind of looking ahead and creating a slightly different position based on what some of the future needs might be here at our institution.

Nate Evans: The last thing I'll mention, our next meeting will be Friday, March 6th at 11:00 AM [now rescheduled to 1:00 PM] we're going to be meeting down at the Nisbet building. It's the first time we've ever met down there and Jerry has agreed to host us down there, so that'll be exciting. I know there was some scheduling snafus this month and I apologize for that. Wanted to give this at least a month in advance so that way you could put it on your calendars. You can also download it as a calendar invite from Webaccess. It's available on there. Yeah, Kelly.

Kelly Sattler: Is there a particular room?

Nate Evans: That is a TBA, which will be in the meeting invite once we've nailed that down. Thank you for, [inaudible 00:23:37] what's that? Oh yeah. The question was which rooms specifically and we still don't know that yet, so. Room 10? It's gotta be room 10. [inaudible 00:23:48] Okay, that or we're just hanging out in the lobby maybe. I don't know. Something like that. Awesome. Nisbet Oh, I thought I copied it from Google maps. Okay. I must not have. Thanks for that. What's that?

Speaker 13: You might very well have copied if from Google maps.

Nate Evans: Google didn't have it, right? Yeah.

Speaker 14: The website already says it is room 10.

Speaker 15: It is room 10 as it already says on the website.

Kevin Henley: For anybody who might be interested in looking at any of the functionality of Blackboard. All we really have access to right now is the, or excuse me, Spartan Ally is there's and they have a wealth of information in there from a student point of view, from an instructor point of view, administrator point of view. If you want to see what the back end really does and it can certainly answer more of the questions that I can then I can at this point, but I will get up to speed.

James Bender: So can we like to hear from anyone out here? Anyone have anything for the group you want to highlight or let us know about just coming up for accessibility? That's okay. Nate, we have a few minutes. Okay.

Annette Burge: Kelly and I are both part of the Web Governance council and an email is going out probably early next week to deans, directors and chairs seeking out more representation from units all over campus. For the Web Governance group, we meet once a month. There is a board, there is a Teams channel, so if you don't have access to that you can certainly request it through either Kelly or me, but I will send the information to Nate so it can go in the minutes for today's meeting so you can ask your executive leadership who's our representative and if we don't have one, can I be at.

Speaker 15: Sorry, I'm brand new. Today's my first meeting. What does a Web Governance committee do?

Annette Burge: It's comprised of frontline web people from units all over campus. We float proposals on things that we, that people are struggling with. We've had several things like making a recommendation that everybody's switched HTTPS, making recommendations on how to evaluate what versions of browsers you're going to continue to support recommendations on how to, we're working on one right now on website retirement criteria so that you can figure out when should we do that.

Annette Burge: There's a group that is currently looking at a standardized data schema for events. Another group that's looking at conversions. So if you have ideas, we are more than happy to listen to them and if you're willing to lead a group to discuss it, we're really happy about that because it ends up being the board members doing most of the leading. So we want people who are members of the group to take an ownership of it as well. My email is Burge a, B U R G E and I can make sure your information is sent forward to the board, but definitely check with your leadership and make sure that they know they should have representation on this group.

James Bender: Thank you. And one thing for me, I just forgot captioning is going up to a $1.25 we updated our information and correct Jim, our website, but not on the website yet, but as of March, I believe March 2nd if you've been doing captioning, it's going to go up to a $1.25 if you're using Rev. So maybe adjust the budgets for that.

Speaker 16: We’re not raising it.

James Bender: Well, we're not, rev is raising their rates. Did I say we? Let me correct that. Rev is raising the rates. We've had several meetings with them to try to keep it down, but like, Nope. Any other thing else for the group? All right. Thank you.