Program 3: Inaccessible Documents - A Student's Perspective


Jim Stachowiak: Talking with Mike provided a lot of good information on inaccessible text from a service provider’s standpoint.

To fully understand the issues surrounding inaccessible text, it’s really important to get a users perspective as well.

Alexis Georgis is a student at the University Of Iowa who uses accessible electronic text, and she’s agreed to sit down with us and talk about some of the issues she runs into with inaccessible electronic text.

Alexis, thanks for joining us this morning.

Alexis Georgis: Thank you for having me.

J: Alexis, you use access electronic text, what difficulties do you have with standard text?

A: Whenever I look at the standard text I usually have trouble comprehending the material.

I usually get sidetracked a lot if I hear other people who are just talking and I can’t really focus on what’s in front of me.

J: So what advantage does electronic text provide to you?

A: Typically, I have a program called Kurzweil which converts the text on to the computer and then I can actually look at the documents and hear it at the same time where it highlights each words as it’s being read which helps me to have both areas of visual and auditory areas at the same time.

J: So you’re more of an auditory learner?

A: I am. I have trouble focusing so it helps to able to hear it and look at the reading.

J: Before a class, what do you typically need to have converted into accessible text?

A: Usually I will need the books converted as well as the ICON documents, which a lot of teachers have been putting more of their readings on ICON, versus just having a textbook.

J: So the ICON materials, typically other readings that are posted online?

A: Yeah and it will be something that’s due, starting at the beginning of class, which usually gives me some troubles early on in the semester trying to catch up right away.

J: Let’s talk about. What’s the biggest issue you have with text that’s put up on a website?

A: I think the biggest issue is when I do have a PDF version and it goes into the program, it’s not aligned the correct way when I try to print it, and that causes me problems because I can’t print the material for class, so I will print a separate document and then just go through and look at what I highlighted so I can have notes for class.

I don’t get my syllabi until the first week of classes, so once I get the materials then I’ll have to go buy the book, look on the ICON site, s and then go through step by step to see if it’s actually converted the way I need them for a PDF, for the books I’ll have to buy them and bring them in here and have them copied and put on to the program, and that can take 2 to three weeks, so I’m already behind at that point.

J: How much easier would it be if instructors made text accessible right from the start?

A: I think that would really help a lot. It would save so much time at the beginning of the semester. I could get everything done as it’s presented to the class instead of playing catch up later on.

J: Alexis, thank you for providing that perspective. It’s very helpful to understand what issues the user has with inaccessible electronic text.

A: You’re welcome, thanks for having me.

J: After talking with Mike and Alexis, you should have a pretty good understanding of what makes a document inaccessible, and the problems that can cause for users.

In the next couple of videos, we’re actually going to walk you through the process of actually creating several different types of accessible documents.

Creating Accessible Documents