Why Lifelong Learning is Critical During National Indigenous History Month

By Kory Melnick

Among the various visual elements illustrating Indigenous cultures, the sun (the summer solstice) is at the center which is at the heart of the festivities. The First Nations, Inuit and Métis as well as the four elements of nature (earth, water, fire and air) are represented in the image and shown opposite. The whole visual is supported by a multicolored smoke* reminding us of Indigenous spirituality but also the colors of the rainbow - symbol of inclusion and diversity of all First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and their members.

*Smoke is used in different ways by all three Indigenous groups in Canada. Whether it is to smoke fish and meat, to burn sage and tobacco or for sacred ceremonies or celebrations, it is a significant symbol in Indigenous cultures.

Description of the three icons:
The eagle to represent the First Nations peoples
The narwhal to represent the Inuit peoples
The violin to represent the Métis peoples
National Indigenous History Month banner

June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada, a time for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to reflect upon and learn about the unique histories, cultures, and heritages of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities. 

National Indigenous History Month is a call to action for settler-Canadians to improve our understanding of Canada’s colonial past and present. Additionally, National Indigenous History Month allows Canadians to express their genuine appreciation for the many contributions of Indigenous peoples and communities, and to celebrate the strength and resiliency of Indigenous peoples today, amidst the ongoing effects of colonization. 

At the Patrick Power Library, we are fortunate to foster a learning environment on the traditional and unceded land of the Mi’kmaq. In awknowledgement of this, we’ve highlighted a list of suggested action items for settler-Canadians to consider.

Settler-Canadian Action Items 

1. Whose land do you live on? 

You’ve probably heard of land acknowledgments, which often take place at the beginning of an event. Genuine and well thought out land acknowledgments recognize the people upon whose land we live, work and play. Learn more about land acknowledgments and why they are important. Also, visit https://native-land.ca/ and use the interactive map to learn and explore! 

2. Read the Truth and Reconciliation Report

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established in 2008. It provided those impacted by the Indian Residential School system an opportunity to make their voices heard and detail how the Canadian government can enact change and facilitate reconciliation. The final report was released in 2015 with 94 calls to action. The Canadian government has so far completed only ten.

3. Do some research 

The Patrick Power Library has plenty of resources and materials to help you research Indigenous history and cultures. You’ll find tons of great resources on the Indigenous Studies LibGuide. Here are just a few of many great resources you might explore, depending on your area of interest:

Database: 

Archives: 

Journals: 

EBooks: 

Web Resources  

We know that finding information on a topic that may be new to you can be overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to contact the Library’s Research Help Team if you’re looking for information, even if it’s for general interest and not for an assignment.

4. Show your Support

Settler-Canadians are responsible for our personal commitments to working towards reconciliation. You can show this commitment by following the action items above, as well as donating to local Indigenous organizations or following local activists on social media. Below are some resources to help guide you on ways you can show your support. 

True North Aid – Canadian Charities Helping Indigenous Communities in Canada 

HuffPost – Indigenous Canadians On Instagram Celebrate Their Culture Beautifully 

It’s vital to keep listening and learning about Indigenous history, particlarly as settlers. National Indigenous History Month can help us celebrate Indigenous brilliance and success; recognize and acknowledge the realities of intergenerational trauma; and work towards a brighter, more just future for all.  

This list was adapted from the action items listed on www.OnCanadaProject.ca/SettlersTakeAction. Please visit this website for more information. 

Some Resources for Learning about Residential Schools in Canada

Every child matters.

The recent discovery of the unmarked burial ground in Kamloops B.C has prompted many Canadians to think about and reflect on our knowledge (or lack thereof) about residential schools in Canada.

Starting in the 1800s and running until 1996, residential schools were established by Christian churches and sponsored by the Canadian government to assimilate Indigenous children into the Euro-Canadian culture. Many Indigenous children, families, and communities suffered as a direct result of the residential school system.

If we are to help create a more just and equitable future, it is crucuial for non-Indigenous people to understand the impact of residential schools on Indigenous peoples and communities. If you’ve been reading the news and find yourself unsure about the meaning of terms like “Indian Residential School”, “60s Scoop”, “Indian Day School” or “Millennium Scoop” (to name just a few), here are some helpful resources you can use as a starting point to learn more about residential schools and the resulting intergenerational trauma that many Indigenous people continue to live with today.

Websites:

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Secret Path

Videos (login with your S number and password to view some of these):

Residential Schools in Canada – A Timeline

Cold Journey

Stories are in Our Bones

Indian Horse

We Were Children

Ebooks (login with your S number and password to view):

Broken circle: the dark legacy of Indian residential schools: a memoir by Theodore Fontaine

A knock on the door: the essential history of residential schools by Phil Fontaine

They came for the children Canada, Aboriginal peoples, and residential schools by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing children and unmarked burials by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

“A national crime”: the Canadian government and the residential school system, 1879 to 1986 by John Sheridan Milloy and Mary Jane McCallum

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese 

“Many people have said over the years…”Why can’t you just get over it and move on?” “My answer has always been: “Why can’t you always remember this?” Because this is about memorializing those people who have been the victims of a great wrong… We should never forget, even once they have learned from it, because it’s part of who we are. It’s not just a part of who we are as survivors and children of survivors and relatives of survivors, it’s part of who we are as a nation. And this nation must never forget what it once did to its most vulnerable people.”

– Murray Sinclair

5 Ways the Library Can Help Improve Your Academic Achievement

SMU graduates from previous convocations.

Convocation is this week, and most likely, if you’re a graduating student, you know about the Patrick Power Library and some of the services we provide. However, what you may not know is how these services can significantly impact your overall academic achievement during your time at Saint Mary’s University. 

A significant amount of evidence shows a positive correlation between student library use and grade point average (GPA). “Library use” could mean you are checking out print materials, accessing articles through Novanet, or browsing some of our available journals or databases. A study conducted by DeeAnn Allison (2015) found that undergraduates with higher GPAs had 50% more material checkouts and a 41% higher usage rate of databases than those with a lower GPA. 

As students, maintaining a competitive GPA can help you to create more postgraduate earnings and opportunities (Allison, 2015). The Library can help you stay on a path towards success by helping you navigate and utilize the library services to avoid challenges and meet your academic goals.

Here are five ways that using the Library can help you improve your academic achievement. Or, if you’re a recent graduate, here’s how the Patrick Power Library may have already helped you on your way to success! 

1. Providing Online and Print Materials  

The Patrick Power Library has plenty of online and print materials that you, as students, can utilize during your time at Saint Mary’s University. These materials range from peer-reviewed online articles to ebooks to physical books from our print collections that you’re able to use. Accessing and exploring these resources is an excellent first step when building the foundations of a great research project. 

2. Available Journals and Databases 

If you visit the Patrick Power Library website, you will notice that we offer students the ability to search for Journals A-Z and Databases A-Z. As you can imagine, there is a lot of available information using these resources! The Patrick Power Library staff want to ensure that you, as students, have as much access to materials that will allow you to reach academic goals.  

3. Subject Guides 

If you don’t know where to start, the Patrick Power Library has various Subject Guides that can help you find information and easily navigate the library resources to find relevant information. Subject Guides outline materials and resources for specific subject areas, making it easy for you, as students, to find what you need. Searching for a Guide that suits your course is a great way to start exploring information and developing a research topic. 

4. Research Help  

Can’t find the article you’re looking for? Do you need help navigating a database? We are here to help! The Library’s Research Help service is designed to help you develop a strong research topic, improve your search strategy, search for materials, and help you to evaluate and find helpful information. The instant chat service connects you directly with a library staff member who can help you with any questions you may have or direct you to the resource or service you need. Learn more or reach out to Research Help using the link provided below:

https://www.smu.ca/academics/research-help.html

5. Library Instruction Workshops

The Patrick Power Library also provides you with helpful workshops that can improve your academic performance. A recent study found that students who engaged with library instruction workshops saw an increase in their overall GPA (Gaha et al., 2018). So, we highly recommend attending one! Workshop topics may include general instructions about library services and resources or specific to a subject or assignment you are working on. 

The Patrick Power Library is committed to helping you pursue your academic achievement goals to set yourself up for future success. However, it is important to note that your GPA is not the only thing that can define academic success. Engaging with the Patrick Power Library services can also help you buld the essential skills and knowledge needed to thrive in a workplace or postgraduate environment. Research skills are valuable now, but also for life beyond university.

If you are a recent student graduate, congratulations! We hope the library services have been supportive of your hard work and academic aspirations. If you are continuing your studies here at Saint Mary’s, please know that our services are always here for you. The Patrick Power library offers plenty of services that are still available online.

References

Allison, DeeAnn. (2015). Measuring the Academic Impact of Libraries. Portal (Baltimore, Md.), 15(1), 29-40.

Gaha, Ula, Hinnefeld, Suzanne, & Pellegrino, Catherine. (2018). The Academic Library’s Contribution to Student Success: Library Instruction and GPA. College & Research Libraries, 79(6), 737-746.

Library’s Successful Research Toolkit starts May 10

Are you a Research Assistant, Teaching Assistant or grad student who would benefit from research training? Sign up for the Research Toolkit workshops, happening virtually May 10-13.

Research assistants, teaching assistants, and graduate students, take note: the library’s Research Toolkit workshops are back!

Running next week, from May 10-13, the Research Toolkit workshops are a great opportunity for students to connect with information experts and with other students, as well as a chance to ask questions and expand their research skills and knowledge. This year’s line-up includes presentations on creating a literature review, finding and using data, and even includes two sessions from staff in the Software & Application Support Centre (SAS) on Microsoft Excel.

Here’s the full Research Toolkit – Spring 2021 Schedule:

Monday, May 10, 2021

11:00 – 12:15 Navigating the Library: Strategies for Successful Research – Heather Sanderson

This workshop will help you research more efficiently and get up to speed in new areas more quickly. It will discuss the research process and the ways faculty stay current in their fields. Topics covered include basic and advanced database skills, document delivery, journal and search alerts and more. This session will set you up for the sessions that follow.

2:00 – 3:15 Internet Expertise for Researchers 101 – Cindy Harrigan

This session will focus on how to find useful, quality information for academic or scholarly research, using Google and Google Scholar. Topics covered will include: Grey literature, search strategies, and tips on how to evaluate search results. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

11:00 – 12:15 Researching the Literature Review – Heather Sanderson

Building on the two previous sessions, this session will focus on the literature review: what they are, where they appear, how they are organized. Then we will cover several key tools and strategies, such as citation searching, that will help you be more comprehensive and systematic in your literature searches.

2:00 – 3:15 File Management and Introduction to Excel – Sarah Cooke and Matthew Salah (SAS)

In this workshop, participants will learn best practices for file naming and folder organization using Microsoft OneDrive. Participants will then be given an introductory tour through Microsoft Excel and learn basic skills like creating tables and using basic functions.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

11:00 – 12:15 Managing your Research with RefWorks – Cindy Harrigan

RefWorks is a citation management tool that enables you to manage bibliographic references as you research and automatically create bibliographies using a wide variety of citation styles. Topics covered in this session will include creating an account, setting up folders, adding references, generating bibliographies, inserting citations into an essay, and sharing your citations with other researchers.

2:00 – 3:15 Excelling with Excel: Beyond the Basics – Sarah Cooke and Matthew Salah (SAS)

In this workshop, participants will learn strategies for working with both qualitative and quantitative data in Excel. Participants will be introduced to advanced functions, data tools, and features that support statistical analysis.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

11:00 – 12:15 Show Me the Numbers: Stats and Data Discovery Tools to Support your Research – Joyce Thomson

This session will focus on key concepts and challenges in finding data and statistics for your research as well as several useful places and strategies to explore, particularly for survey data from Statistics Canada.

2:00 – 3:15 Scholarly Journal Quality and Open Access – Peter Webster

This session will focus on how to identify scholarly journal quality, a key skill for researchers and authors. Topics covered will include the various impact measures in use and strategies to identify the “best” articles in a subject area, as well as the benefits of open access and how to avoid predatory journals.

You can register for the workshops at https://forms.office.com/r/nVHsyR2EgF

Still have questions? Contact Information Literacy Librarian, Heather Sanderson (heather.sanderson@smu.ca) or Instructional Development Librarian, Cindy Harrigan (cindy.harrigan@smu.ca) for more info.

Furthering Digital Accessibility: An Ongoing Journey

This is a guest post by Harriette L. Spiegel, Ph.D, a Fulbright Canada 2020-2021 Scholar and Research Chair, who is here at Saint Mary’s from the University of Tennessee at Martin studying digital accessibility.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Before laws were passed regarding digital accessibility (in the U.S. we have the Americans With Disabilities Act or ADA, Section 508 for information technology, and state laws), students who used online course resources had to put up with the barriers to their learning that were caused by inaccessible computer output. Just as it took a while for the focus to turn to digital accessibility (from the physical accessibility considerations) in the U. S., the recently-passed accessibility legislation in Canada similarly has a timetable that puts the focus on information technology a few years away (the “Access by Design 2030: Achieving an Accessible Nova Scotia” document at https://novascotia.ca/accessibility/access-by-design/).

Digital Accessibility is an umbrella for ensuring that all consumers of computer output will not face barriers in seeking information. So, for instance, a computer user who cannot rely on sight to understand the content of an image on a document, but instead listens to a screen reader read out the content of the document, needs to have an alternative means to understanding the image. The creator of the document can easily provide this alternative means by adding “alternative text” (“alt text” for short) to the document. This is done by right-clicking the image or graphic, selecting the “Alt Text” option and filling in the information that explains the content of the image.  There is an option for “mark as decorative,” and this is useful with images that have no content but are purely decorative.  The screen reader ignores this “decorative” image, and no barrier to information is encountered.

For any other category of physical impairment that impacts one’s access to information, such as a hearing impairment that negates the usefulness of sound in a video or audio file, there are other tips and tricks that the creator of the file can use to provide an alternative means of delivering the information. Thus, the thoughtful creator of videos includes captions or transcripts of the information. The creator of a course or page in a learning management system (LMS) will make sure that the documents that are loaded into the LMS are created with “accessibility in mind” (https://webaim.org/), as advocates of Digital Accessibility urge. The creator will strive to present all course information clearly and simply, avoiding confusion for users with learning disabilities.

What does Digital Accessibility mean for the faculty or staff member? Most fortunate university members have a resource on their campus that assists in creating digital output. At Saint Mary’s, you have the Studio for Teaching and Learning- if you are not sure how to create that accessible document, all you have to do is ask.

Some basic guidelines for ensuring Digital Accessibility include starting your “accessibility journey” from the beginning. Do not try to retrofit a document – such as a syllabus or committee report; you will likely end up with a bigger mess. Most computer applications provide the buttons and tools to use to produce digitally accessible documents. The main “best practices” include Alt Text, Headings made with Styles, Meaningful Links, Accessible Tables, Accessible PowerPoint, and use of captions or transcripts with media.

The wonderful term at Saint Mary’s University has been so eye-opening for me. It is easy to become so immersed in one’s own interests, that we forget all the other perspectives out there. For instance, comments and questions during my several presentations included other applications besides Word – of course Digital Accessibility is the goal of all computer applications. Most applications have a form of an Accessibility Checker. We do have to put up with version changes and “improvements,” of course – no sooner do I learn how to use a particular tool, than it is “improved,” and I have to learn all over again. It’s okay to ask for help when you need it.

Thank you for all your input during my explorations and presentations, and for your interest in completing the faculty/staff survey. The survey will close on April 15, 2021 (see the Wed., March 17, 2021 email that you received, for the link).

More study space, more research support over the long weekend

Got a date with some final papers this long weekend? We’ve got you covered! The library will be open for regular individual study space bookings from Friday, April 2- Monday, April 5.

Sticking close to home, but still working on assignments? The Research Help Team will be online from 9 am – 7 pm on Friday, April 2 and Monday, April 5, and 1-5 pm on Saturday, April 3, to help you with your library and research-related questions.

Travel to China with Dr. Eric Henry

At a time when many of us are missing international travel, the next Faculty Author Series event might help fill that void.

On March 25 at noon, travel via Zoom to Shenyang, China, with Dr. Eric Henry, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology. Dr. Henry will discuss his new book, The Future Conditional, and his twelve years of research on the globalization of the English language.

In particular, the book explores why and how English has become so important in China, and what effect this fascination with learning English has had on Shenyang, the largest city in China’s Northeast.

“I taught English in China after my masters as a way to learn Mandarin and make a bit of money,” explains Dr. Henry. “Everyone wanted to talk about English and treated me as an expert. I started to wonder, why is it a national project to teach everyone English? Why is it such an important part of people’s lives, even for people who don’t need it?”

While this phenomenon is often studied from a linguistics lens, Dr. Henry’s approach is from an anthropological perspective. What does learning English mean to Chinese speakers? What does the ability to speak English represent in contemporary China? How has English become a lucrative commodity?

Dr. Henry also notes that there are lots of types of English in China, including words and phrases that are unfamiliar to native English speakers. According to Dr. Henry, this raises questions about how languages evolve within cultures, and which “versions” are considered “right”: “Correctness is really the result of perspective, position, and authority”.

The Future Conditional will be available through the SMU Library later this year, and is currently available for pre-order.

Register for this event.

Furthering Digital Accessibility: 3 Tips for Making your Content More Accessible

This is a guest post by Harriette L. Spiegel, Ph.D, a Fulbright Canada 2020-2021 Scholar and Research Chair, who is here at Saint Mary’s from the University of Tennessee at Martin studying digital accessibility.

Inaccessible computer output = a brick wall.

Brick wall.
Brick wall. Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

Let’s talk about students (or any computer users) who experience inaccessible computer output. It must be frustrating that so many others have no idea what it’s like to encounter these barriers. However, just because someone doesn’t have a visual disability doesn’t mean they can’t empathize. Like running into a brick wall you can’t get through, encountering inaccessible computer output is just as “blocking”. Unfortunately, people are often unaware of Digital Accessibility issues and the implications therein for everyone, especially students.

So, I suggest that EVERYONE become familiar with the ‘ins and outs’ of Digital Accessibility. Ask yourselves a couple of simple questions about your own computing experiences:

  • How do you feel when a given web page won’t load?
  • Do you like trying to decipher tiny print on a too-busy document page or webpage?
  • What about those occasional documents that have margins that are lost, and a portion of the print isn’t even visible?
  • And what about those sometimes-so-intricate graphics that just plain don’t make sense – and there is no accompanying legend or explanation?

ANYONE can experience “disability” at one point or another- have you ever broken your wrist on your “good side,” and tried to use your computer with one hand, especially the wrong hand? The point is to start learning about how we can all produce accessible computer output so that everyone, regardless of their disability, can participate.

I will be “kicking off” the Smithers Centre’s “Accessibility Week” March 22 – 26. Here are just a few tips from the material I will cover that will help you make your content- any content- more accessible:

  1. Make “Alt text” a habit: a computer user with visual disabilities needs documents to be created accessibly. You need to use alternative text (“alt text”) to describe any images or graphics you might include in your document – the screen reader they use won’t recognize an image, but it will be able to read the descriptive alt text. 
  2.  Use your LMS’s accessibility features: an LMS, or Learning Management System (at Saint Mary’s, it is D2L’s Brightspace) will provide a prompt to add alternative text to any image that is added. The LMS also provides tips and tricks to the student user with a disability in using the LMS and computer applications. Every Learning Management Systems has an arm that addresses accessibility—D2L’s is the Accessibility Interest Group and anyone can join it (https://www.d2l.com/blog/gaad-the-important-story-of-d2ls-accessibility-interest-group/).  Access and Equity in Online Learning (https://www.d2l.com/blog/access-and-equity-in-online-learning/) is an article that talks about D2L’s commitment to accessibility in education.
  3. Use the “Styles” menu (in word-processing applications like Word). By using the Styles when formatting a document’s headings, the creator of that document makes it easy for the student using a screen reader to skim through a given document as a sighted reader does. Otherwise, without accessibly-formatted heading, the user will have to read entirely through a document to see what is next, instead of being able to skim the headings.

Although a lot of accessibility tips apply to visual impairments, many of the tips and tricks of creating accessible computer output work for more than one kind of disability. For instance, using clear headings contributes to an organized lesson page, and helps someone with a learning disability. Being sure that a video has an accompanying transcript and/or closed captioning or subtitles gives everyone an alternative way of accessing the information (I like to listen to a pdf reader read my work literature while I am driving).

In fact, that’s really what it’s all about: when providing information, give the learner different ways of accessing the information. Web Accessibility, the umbrella for all digital accessibility guidelines, has been called the “wheelchair ramp on the Internet” – think of how often you have used those wheelchair ramps for something other than a wheelchair!

International Women’s Day Event: A Faculty Author Talk with Dr. Rohini Bannerjee & editor Christina Myers

Looking for a way to celebrate International Women’s Day tomorrow? We’ve got you covered!

Our next Faculty Author Series event is set for 12 pm on Monday, March 8, where Dr. Rohini Bannerjee and editor Christina Myers will unpack Big: Stories about Life in Plus-Sized Bodies.

Described asa collection of personal and intimate experiences of plus size women, non-binary and trans people in a society obsessed with thinness,” these short stories invite readers to question- “and ultimately reconsider- our collective and individual obsession with women’s bodies.”

“When I saw the call for it, I kept thinking “they’re not going to accept it’”, says Dr. Rohini Bannerjee, whose short story, “Barbara Streisand or Bust!”, appears in the collection. Dr. Bannerjee describes herself as having always been a “secret writer” despite her initial focus on science; her family has always been influenced by art and culture, including listening to ghazals in Urdu, a form of Persian poetry, and her father would write down couplets or shayaris, reflecting on life and philosophy, and share them with her. Dr. Bannerjee “wrote in her head instead”, noting: “I always found solace in writing”.

As for choosing the title for her short story, Dr. Bannerjee, who dreamt of being an opera singer, loved Streisand as a kid, “I remember taking my mother’s hairbrush and singing like Barbara, a mega superstar who herself struggled with imposter syndrome.”

Dr. Bannerjee describes the collection as a “celebration of body shapes” that brings out into the open the very real “struggle between honouring your body as it is in its present state, and loving and improving your body so it serves you in the best way possible.”

“International women’s day is all about choice: exercising our right to choose how to be the best versions of ourselves. “

Big is available through the SMU Library, or at https://caitlin-press.com/our-books/big/

Furthering Digital Accessibility: Exploring Pathways to Reaching Full Awareness

We are honoured to feature a guest post by Harriette L. Spiegel, Ph.D, a Fulbright Canada 2020-2021 Scholar and Research Chair, who is here at Saint Mary’s from the University of Tennessee at Martin studying digital accessibility.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Why does it matter if my computing output is accessible?

The answer is, of course, “because it does.”

What I am about to talk about is a screen reader, an assistive technology device that assists users who have visual disabilities. The device reads out the content of the given article or document. Suppose you are reading an article – but your vision is impaired, so you are relying on the screen reader to read the content of the article. All of sudden, the screen reader gives you an empty phrase, “graphic, graphic” – this means that there is a graphic in the article. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could see – or hear – what that graphic is all about? So it matters that the person putting out that article on a computer did not know to add “alt text” – or “alternate text” – a simple description of that graphic. If that graphic was important to the content of the article, then the “reader,” or in this case, the listener, has encountered a barrier to the content of the article. Is that fair? Not to mention, is that inconvenient??

But there is more:

How do you feel, when you are in the middle of a project that relies on a good connection to the Web and your connection slows down, or worse yet, goes out completely? Well, imagine what such interruption to progress is like when it is not just temporary but always? So making sure that computer output is accessible to all users is like assuring a smooth, reliable connection to the Web.

And even more:

How often do you scan quickly through a document that you need to read, glancing through headings to see what it is all about, telling yourself that you will get back to reading the entire document? Those headings are really convenient, aren’t they! Well, again, a screen reader can be programmed so the user can skip through the heading as a sighted reader does – if, that is, those headings have been formatted accessibly as the document was created. If they are not, the user hears “there are no headings…; no headings….” The only other choice for the hapless user is to have to listen all the way through the document instead of being able to skip through.  

There are numerous similar situations that can present “barriers” to the user, and I will talk about these situations as I explore Digital Accessibility. This is my topic for my activities related to the Fulbright Canada Scholar award that I am in Halifax to complete as Research Chair at St. Mary’s University. Fortunately, the word is getting out: more and more computer applications provide timely tools for providing accessibility. In an online Learning Management System (LMS) like Canvas or Blackboard, for instance, anytime a user adds an image, the prompt for alt text appears. Many word processors are programmed to provide prompts for creating accessible content. Your campus instructional technology office is committed to helping faculty produce accessible online materials.

The bottom line is – that’s OKAY if you don’t know! We weren’t born knowing these things. But you need to know, and this knowledge is readily available.

Not only is it the right thing to do, but there is legislation out there that mandates that we make accessibility be a priority- particularly in information technology, including online learning and teaching. It doesn’t have to be difficult, but if planned from the beginning of a project, computer output, including your course materials, can be perfectly accessible.