Student Accessibility Resources
It is our hope at Skidmore College that all students can access and use course content in a manner that accommodates their particular abilities and preferred learning styles. To that aim, we provide a number of resources that might make instructional materials more easily accessible and/or usable.
If further accommodations are necessary, please do not hesitate to reach out to Student Academic Services to request an accommodation.
MacOs VoiceOver – Macs have assistive technology built-in. The VoiceOver screen reader can easily be turned on and off while using a Mac laptop or desktop. Find instructions on all of its features here, https://help.apple.com/voiceover/mac/10.14/.
Windows Narrator – Windows 10 has a built-in screen reading application call Narrator. Find the complete user guide here, https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/22798/windows-10-complete-guide-to-narrator
NVDA – NV Access offers a free open-source screen reading tool called NVDA (Windows only). Download the software and find instructions at this link, https://www.nvaccess.org/.
All Skidmore are welcome to download the program on to their own lap tops or mobile devices. The easy-to-use toolbar makes documents, files and web pages more accessible. Read&Write is a big confidence booster for anyone who needs a little support with their reading and writing, at school or in the workplace. The program’s friendly literacy features may be particularly useful for English Language Learners, as well as people with learning difficulties or dyslexia. From hearing emails or documents read out loud to text prediction, picture dictionaries, summary highlighters and a grammar, spelling and confusable words checker, Read&Write makes lots of everyday literacy tasks simpler, quicker and more accurate.
The software is available on all public computers in the library, and can be downloaded to a personal laptop by visiting the IT Help Desk on the first floor of the library.
MS Office and PDF Accessibility
MS Office Tools
Microsoft Office has a number of accessibility features built into its various products. For those with visual impairments wanting improved access, use the links provided for each tool.
Excel – Accessibility support for Excel
PowerPoint – Accessibility support for PowerPoint
Outlook – Accessibility support for Outlook
Digitize a PDF
Adobe Acrobat should be installed on all computers in the Skidmore College library. Many times you may find that a PDF is not readable, ie you cannot highlight or select any of the text in the document. Digitizing the PDF will be useful if you’d like to copy/paste text or generate an audio version of the content.
Follow these steps to make the PDF accessible:
- Open the PDF file with Adobe Acrobat (do not use Adobe reader), select “Tools”, then “Action Wizard”. The Action Wizard toolset is displayed in the right-hand pane.
- From the Action List, click Make Accessible. By default, the action runs on the document that’s currently open. Click Start. Follow the prompts to complete the Make Accessible action.
- For more details on this process, see the Create and verify PDF accessibility page.
- After the process is complete save your document to replace the old copy
- If you open your new file again you can now select and copy text from the page.
- Adobe can also help crop out notes or shading at the margins of documents. Go to “View”, “Tools”, “Pages” and then “Crop”. Then take your cursor and click on a corner of the page then hold down the cursor and create box highlighting the text you want to keep. When you unclick the box should remain, then double click inside box, a “Set Page Boxes” will open up and select “OK” at the bottom right (you can also crop multiple pages from this screen).
- Should you have an older document that has already been scanned with two pages on each image and you want to split the pages vertically for better accessibility, you can use the following online resource: https://www.sejda.com/split-pdf-down-the-middle
After files are attached to a course, Blackboard Ally creates alternative formats of the file based on the original. For example, if the original file is a PDF, Ally creates audio, electronic braille, and ePub formats of the same content. These formats are made available with the original file so everything is in one convenient location.
The alternative formats created depend on the original file type. If you don’t see an option to download alternative formats, Ally isn’t enabled for that course or the file is not a supported content type.
Find a file attached to your course. Select the menu beside it and select Alternative formats. Choose the version that is best for your needs!
** You can find alternative formats anywhere a file is located in the course.
Ally will automatically create alternative formats that students can choose from. For example, for a Word document, Ally will create versions of the document in the following formats:
- Tagged PDF (structured PDF for improved use with assistive technology)
- HTML (for viewing in browser or on mobile devices)
- ePub (for reading as an e-book on an iPad or other e-book reader)
- Electronic braille (BRF version for consumption on electronic braille displays)
- Audio (mp3 version for listening)
For more information on getting using the alternative formats in Blackboard, see Blackboard’s Ally Quick Start for Students page.
Apple iOS Accessibility – The latest versions of iOS have built-in accessibility tools such as VoiceOver, Magnifier, and Real-Time Text (RTT). Follow this link to learn more about Apple’s iOS accessibility features.
Android Accessibility – Android devices have built-in accessibility tools such as a screen reader, magnification, and voice access. Follow this link to learn about Android’s accessibility features.