Instructor Success – Atlantic Cape Community College

Instructor Success – Atlantic Cape Community College


I’m Professor Barbara Heard and I teach Biology at Atlantic Cape Community College. I am Cheryl Knowles-Harrigan. I’m a professor of Art here at Atlantic Cape Community College. I also teach Interpersonal Communication online and also Visual Communication and Art Appreciation online and I teach both Art majors and many many non majors. Hello, my name is Carl Giulian. I am in the professional studies department here at Atlanta Cape Community College and I predominantly teach business management classes. I’m Dr. Xu, I’m in Faculty of the Science Department. I teach General Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, and Genetics. So, we began the process of learning how to make materials accessible and it’s been a long laborious process. Obviously, there have been a lot of people who’ve been teaching for a very long time, had a lot of materials that weren’t even digital let alone accessible. So we’ve had that bridge to cross. We had to learn how to do headings and write alternate text and course in the sciences, we had to learn how to make figures and tables and illustrations accessible. Well, as all the process here I think at the college started with this looming edict that we had from the court system about accessibility. However, I do think we here at the college kind of spun that around to be a little bit more of a program in terms of let’s try to make all of our stuff accessible for everybody. So we were extremely motivated. Our college president at the time said if we have to do this, then let’s be the best that we can do with this. It was a fantastic attitude that really motivated the professors at the college, not just the professors, the college as a whole. We quickly switched here in this at the college here, they are looking at it from that perspective where we said, this thing that we’re trying to make accessibility is just beneficial for everybody here at the college. It makes it easier for everybody and it’s a good goal for the college. It is a priority. If you want to teach online, your course should be accessible. I think what is happening is that more students are coming forward because they don’t necessarily have to disclose if they have disabilities all the way to anxiety, testing anxiety. I mean student success is absolutely important. It is top priority for us to be accessible. Well, the process basically started from a very simple basis that we all have files that we upload on to our blackboard shelves and the files are basically for the most part either a word document of some kind, a PowerPoint of some kind or a file which may be a video of some kind. So for the most part I think most of us started the simplest, the word documents, where we were trained. We had a lot of training with regard to making these word documents accessible. Step by step how to fix the files. So, I went through a few of those training and it was very helpful, chat is very helpful. So from there on, I just do my own files because it’s difficult for other people to do my own files. The pictures and tables all that need to be all text, so I do that myself. Through the accessibility training that we’ve had at the college as well I have learned a lot of the skills that I’ve learned for accessibility. We discovered the accessibility tool in Microsoft Office and then they came out fairly recently with the accessibility tool for the Mac. They had already had it for the PC and using those two tools along with Ally has enabled us to make sure that the materials that we’re putting up online are accessible. I think just getting started if I were to do it on my own and had not gone to the workshops, we had an in-service day, we had a training session. We had one department meeting, I’m a full time faculty member, we had one department meeting that was just done in a lab where we worked on that together. I think that if I had not done those things and tried to do it on my own, I would have struggled. Now we do have a person that I can send files to as well, but I was able to pretty much do it on my own and I attribute a lot of that to working for instructional technology, vetting my materials through the center for accessibility and also all of that training that I got. For instance, when I write a PowerPoint I use the accessibility tool in Microsoft Office first and then I put the PowerPoint up on Ally and it usually finds some issues perhaps often contrast issues that weren’t flagged in the accessibility tool in PowerPoint. We’ve had constant training from several departments here most of which the support came from academic affairs that really encouraged us to embrace this and jump on board with all the training sessions. At one point, they had weekly afternoon sessions where you could go in, was sponsored by a couple of the other faculty members, bring your documents in. They were experts and they would help you tinker up your documents and get them ready. It was a wonderful thing. So, I’ve used Ally to make sure that I’m putting up something that is going to be accessible for all students and I go into the file menu in Blackboard and I just run down my files and I look for all those green dashboards and of course I want them to all be perfect but not all of them are there. I think they’re all high, but I don’t have all of them perfect yet. But it’s really nice to go through all my files. Use of Ally it’s really helpful. So for the past year or so, it helps to check whether the files we post on there whether it’s accessible or how accessible it is and so it’s been very useful. When we finally embraced ally here at the college, I think it was a really, from my perspective I don’t think it was overly shocking because you know we have been working on getting our files uploaded and doing well from a general perspective. Then ally comes on and we saw the little, the meters and for the most part in my perspective, I had a lot of green meters which was wonderful. But you would still go click on it then you would see you know, green might be somewhere still 85 percent and then you say “Why am I not at 100 percent” and now the Ally was absolutely a wonderful tool we could drop over to the sidebar of Blackboard and they would identify exactly what was wrong with your file. What was absolutely amazing is that you would always take one of those error things that were keeping you from you know, 95 or 100. You click on it, you fix it and then all of a sudden your meter would jump up to 90 and 92 or 95 and then finally 100 percent. Ally was a great asset for us because I am sure that the college saw the accessibility numbers, but we never saw them at our level until ally came on board. But I want to see the 100 percent. I don’t like the 99 percent. Yes, I was an Ally pilot and I also took part in the two webinars that we had. Then I set out to work on changing everything over so that it was accessible. I have overhauled everything that I use now and it’s all accessible.

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