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Accessibility & Learning Technologies: About

The ALT Mission

Accessibility and Learning Technologies Group (ALT) is a collaboration with members from the Penn Libraries, Student Disability Services (SDS), Library Technology Services, SAS Online Learning, Wharton Computing, and other schools and programs at the University of Pennsylvania. 

The group was formed in 2017 by Joe Schaffner, Courseware Support Librarian, to raise awareness about accessibility considerations for faculty and staff using Canvas and related instructional technologies. Additionally, the group is working on several projects aimed at showing how users working with/creating content in Canvas and related technologies can design and manage digital content that adheres to Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles and is viable for accessibility accommodations when students provide SDS documentation.

ALT's Objectives

  • Raise awareness among faculty and staff about accessibility and learning technologies:
    • Features and design choices that facilitate accessibility 
    • Features and design choices that hinder accessibility
  • Provide practical solutions to accessibility barriers for learning technologies through materials (documentation, videos, tutorials, etc), events (workshops, presentations, demonstrations, etc.), and services (e.g., consultations) 
  • Collaborate with non-ALT colleagues (learning specialists, technologists, instructional designers, etc.) on projects, initiatives, and committees for which accessibility plays a prominent role (e.g., campus-wide captioning services)
  • Participate through membership or consultation in University-wide accessibility initiatives (e.g., Committee for an Accessible University) to assist with matters pertaining to accessibility and learning technologies. 
  • Consult with student groups  to learn how we can serve the technological needs of students with disabilities at Penn.

ALT Membership

  • Cynthia Cronin-Kardon, Business Reference and Electronic Resources Librarian, Lippincott Library
  • Clayton Colmon, Associate Director of Instructional Design, Penn Arts & Sciences Online Learning
  • Ryan Frasch, Senior Instructional Technology Specialist, Perelman School of Medicine
  • Iva Goldsmith, Systems Programmer, Web Unit, Penn Libraries
  • Maddy Hodges, Courseware Developer, Penn Libraries
  • Amrou Ibrahim, Associate Director for Assistive Technology, Student Disabilities Services 
  • Anna Kent, Director of Communications, Wharton Computing 
  • Meryl Krieger, Instructional Designer and Technologist, Penn Arts & Sciences Online Learning
  • Becky Moulder, Instructional Design Project Leader, Wharton Computing
  • Linda J. Lee, Director, Instructional Design, IDEA Courseware Team, Wharton Computing
  • Meaghan Moody, Teaching and Learning Librarian, Penn Libraries
  • Joe Schaffner, Technical Support Manager, Penn Arts & Sciences Online Learning 
  • Chava Spivak-Birndorf, Emerging Technologies Librarian, Penn Libraries
  • Leslie Vallhonrat, Head, Web Unit, Penn Libraries
  • Debora Weber-Miller, UX Designer, University Communications

Past ALT Events2

April 9, 2018: Assistive Technology Fair

This event showcased several innovative devices and software designed to help people with disabilities use technology more easily, including:

  • Microsoft Office accessibility tools
  • iOS accessibility
  • SensusAccess
  • BARD/Talking Book Player
  • Free assistive technology mobile apps
  • Smartpen + Read&Write
  • Text-to-Speech/ optical character recognition (OCR)
  • Adobe Acrobat/PDFs
  • Canvas Accessibility
  • Low vision and blindness products
  • 3D printing

April 3, 2018: Accessibility Training for Instructional Designers

Attendees learned how to:

  • Evaluate the course content, spaces, and technologies for accessibility
  • Find information and resources for accessibility at Penn
  • Create accessible versions of common types of course content like documents, images, videos, and other content
  • Develop a repository of accessible-design best practices and outreach strategies for faculty, staff, and end-users