June Updates from Minnesota's Office of Accessibility

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Digital Accessibility News from Minnesota IT Services

A cursor hovering over the Change Alt Text option in Facebook to add alt text to a photo of Jenna Covey and Joan Redwing.

Pump Up Your Social Media Using
Pictures with Alt Text

The state's Design Leadership meeting occurs every other month. Employees from across agencies who lead design for the state gather to discuss branding, projects, and share best practices. At a recent meeting attendees asked: how can I make my social media images accessible? The conversation addressed updates to social media platforms in the last year and ways to better reach all your readers. This article is an overview/summary, and you can get more details in the presentation PDF Social Media and Alt Text.

Who uses alt text (and why)?

There are many reasons to use quality alt text! While most alt text users are people using assistive technologies, this is not the entire group. Some people do not download images for a variety of reasons – they read your alt text as text that appears in place of the image. Google indexes your alt text. Artificial intelligence may be learning how to improve automated alt text from your image’s alt text.

What makes good alt text? How do you add it in LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, scheduling apps, and Facebook? And what do you do if it isn't working? Details in the blog Pump Up Your Social Media Using Pictures with Alt Text.

Switch for an automatic door.

Normalizing Digital Accessibility

By Molly, Office of Accessibility Intern

It sits next to doors, a few feet off the ground, and usually is silver with a blue design in the center.

Can you guess what the item is? An automatic door switch! An automatic door switch is a common sight in the physical world, but what resources exist to help people with disabilities in the digital world?

Hello! My name is Molly, I am an intern for the Office of Accessibility, and I can start to answer that question. Laws, regulations, and guidelines – from the state, federal, and even international level – all regulate digital accessibility. There are:

Together, these provide the rules for digital accessibility, albeit in a dry, dusty way that involves lots of big words.

So, how do average people like me start to make digital things accessible? I found that answer in the styles pane of Microsoft Word.

More about Molly's initial journey in the Normalizing Digital Accessibility blog.

Tech Tip: Where do you put the ASL interpreter?

Online videos that do not originate from television and are produced by State of Minnesota Executive Branch agencies must follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 levels A and AA. While the Sign Language (Prerecorded) success criteria is level AAA, providing more accessible communications such as while covering weather-related emergencies and other disasters ensures everyone can access the information.

And, online videos attract an even larger audience than television! Have you thought about how to include American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters onscreen in press conference and presentation style videos?

The Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH) has created a training page that highlights how to ensure

  • your video frame includes both the speaker and the interpreter,
  • those using mobile devices can see the interpreter,

and has examples so you can learn more.

But what about other types of telecommunications? The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) requires internet-based phone calls and videos, and any new related technology, be accessible for people with disabilities. 

Events and Trainings

Webinar: SharePoint for All!

Live Broadcast Date: Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Central Time

Fee to attend based on membership status. More information is available on the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) registration page.

Speaker(s): Jennie Delisi, Accessibility Analyst, Office of Accessibility, State of MN
Target Audience: Accessibility professionals; SharePoint site owners, content creators and contributors.
Skill Level: Beginner - Intermediate

Overview: SharePoint has changed a lot over the last year, including an option for using "Modern Pages." The presenter will discuss answers to questions such as:

  • What are the best practices in designing SharePoint sites that are usable by all employees?
  • What are common issues that prevent employees from using SharePoint, or using it well?
  • How do I know what type of page I am looking at: modern, classic, on premises?
  • How do I set up a new page using the most accessible modern stuff?
  • Why would I choose to use modern pages and libraries over classic when I have a choice?
  • How can I test the accessibility of my SharePoint site?

Everyone has a role in SharePoint accessibility including those that set up the site, contribute content, and collaborate on documents. Learn what you can do to make your SharePoint site more accessible.

In Person Event: ADA 29th Anniversary Celebration

Date: Friday, July 26, 2019

Time: 1pm - 4pm

Location: Anderson Center, 774 Snelling Ave N, St. Paul, MN 55104

Registration is not required.

ASL interpreters, CART, and audio description provided on site.

For more information or to request an accommodation by July 17, please contact Cindy Tarshish at cindyt@mcil-mn.org or 651-603-2015.

More information is on the Minnesota Department of Human Rights' ADA 29th Anniversary Celebration Facebook Event Page.

In Person Event: Closing the Gap 2019

The Closing The Gap Conference is an opportunity to deepen your assistive technology knowledge and strengthen your implementation strategies.

When you start thinking differently about how to reach students, how to infuse technology into learning, how to leverage literacy strategies in all content areas and how to work toward ensuring all students are receiving an equitable, flexible education, we can begin to transform these areas, and ultimately increase student achievement and independence.

There will be spotlight presentations by Microsoft Education Experts and members of the Google Accessibility teams.

The full schedule of presentations will be announced July 15, 2019.

Note: registration is required.

Conference Dates: October 2-4, 2019

Pre-conference Workshops: September 30 – October 1, 2019

Location: Mystic Lake Center and Casino Hotel, Prior Lake, Minnesota

Cost: Registration fees for Closing the Gap vary so check their website for more information.