Prior Accessibility Events

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 2019

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 2018

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 2017

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 2016

Haben Girma Presentation

Celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 2019 on May 16th!

The campus community can recognize the ninth annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on Thursday, May 16, by engaging in several activities. The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion of people with various disabilities. To commemorate the day, we invite you to choose at least one of the virtual activities below: 

  1. Upload a document (e.g., Word or PDF) to SensusAccess and choose to have it converted to audio MP3 (Note: make sure to enter your Cal Poly email address when prompted). SensusAccess is a free self-service file conversion service available to all campus members and hosted on the Kennedy Library website. A shortcut to SensusAccess is located in the menu at the top left of every PolyLearn page. 
  2. Explore the free Learning Tools that are available to Office 365 subscribers at Cal Poly. Learning Tools is located under the View menu in Word for Windows, Mac, and iPad. Choose the Read Aloud option to hear the text in your document read aloud with synchronized highlighting. Adjust other features such as page color, column width and text spacing to your preferences. You can also find this option in the online version of Word under the View menu, but it's called Immersive Reader
  3. Call a friend or family member on Skype and use its live captions & subtitles feature. During the call, press the more + button, then select Turn Subtitles On.
  4. Watch a video or movie with audio description turned on and your monitor turned off (or your eyes closed). Audio description is defined as "the verbal depiction of key visual elements in media and live productions" for individuals who are blind or have low vision. Choose from among the audio described videos at YouDescribe or the audio described movies/TV shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime
  5. Attend a free webinar about digital accessibility on Thursday, May 16th, such as RedShelf's webinar about accessible course materials, or Finalsite's webinar about promoting accessibility at your organization. 
  6. Post a photo on your Facebook or Instagram page, and include an image description or alt text so that screen reader users can better understand what is in the photo.
    • In Instagram, go to Advanced Settings > Accessibility > tap on Write Alt Text > type in your alt text, then tap Save.
    • In Facebook, once you've uploaded a photo, click the Edit Photo button in the bottom right corner of the photo > click Alt Text > click Override Generated Alt Text > type in a description for the image > click the Save button.
    • Alternatively, you can write an image description enclosed in brackets and titled "IMAGE DESCRIPTION" at the end of your post. Guidelines for writing effective image descriptions for your social media posts can be found in this article titled All About Image Descriptions
  7. Download the free Microsoft Translator app to your smartphone and encourage a fellow student or colleague to do so as well. Speak into the app and see your words instantly transcribed (or translated) as text for your partner to read in real-time on their smartphone. Consider how this app can facilitate conversation with individuals who are deaf/hard of hearing or who speak a different language. 
  8. Check out the digital accessibility resources compiled by CTLT (Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology): Accessibility Resources and Video Creation and Captioning.

2017 Global Accessibility Awareness Day flier

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (Thurs, May 17, 2018)

In celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 2018, Cal Poly is hosting a mini two-day conference on May 17th and 18th. All events are free and open to the public. Details of the conference are as follows:

Day 1 - Thurs, May 17th

  • Noon - 1 pm: Keynote Address by Derek Featherstone

    • Location: Spanos Theatre, Cal Poly campus
    • Derek Featherstone, an internationally known speaker and authority on accessibility and inclusive digital design, will present a talk titled “Inclusive by Design.” Featherstone will explain how intentionally engaging and inviting people of all abilities into the design process makes the digital world easier to use for everyone while making it accessible to people with disabilities. He will offer techniques and strategies that can be immediately put into practice to make design more accessible to all.

    • Download the Keynote Address flyer [PDF]

Day 2 - Fri, May 18th

  • 11:00 - 11:45 am: "Approaching Web Accessibility with a Beginner’s Mind” – Jeff Van Kleeck, Academic Affairs

    • Location: Kennedy Library, Room 511
  • Noon - 1 pm: “Assistive Technology Student Panel & Demo: Tools for Doing Everyday Activities in Diverse Ways” – Facilitated by John Lee, DRC

    • Location: Kennedy Library, Room 511
  • 1:15 - 2:00 pm: “5 Habits for Creating Accessible Word Documents” – Pam Dougherty, CTLT

    • Location: Kennedy Library, Room 511
  • Light refreshments will be available.
  • Download the GAAD workshops flyer [PDF]

For more info and to request accommodations, contact: John Lee, Cal Poly, Disability Resource Center, (805) 756-5972, jlee245@calpoly.edu.

GAAD logo featuring interlocking gears with logos for tech companies such as Google and symbols for the 4 main disability categories, along with the words "Cal Poly Celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Day" and the motto "Make accessibility a forethought, not an afterthought." Below the logo is a list of the GAAD 2018 sponsors, also listed in the body text.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 2018 Recap

Special thanks to our campus and community partners who helped make GAAD 2018 possible and successful! The "official" total for in-person engagement on both days of the GAAD mini-conference was 426 people. This total includes keynote attendance, workshop attendance, and number of students that Derek addressed during class visits. A breakdown of the attendance at the GAAD events is listed below.

GAAD Keynote by Derek Featherstone ("Inclusive By Design"):

  • Total = 260 (Cal Poly and community members)
  • Cal Poly attendee breakdown:
    • Student (n=129)
    • Staff (n=66)
    • Faculty (n=12)
    • Admin/Mgr (n=2)

Class visits by Derek Featherstone:

  • Total = 133 Cal Poly students
  • Classes visited:
    • CSC 486 "Human-Computer Interaction"
    • GRC 339 "Web Design and Production"
    • BUS 395 "Systems Design and Implementation" (two sections)  

GAAD Workshops:

  • Total = 33 (Cal Poly and community members)
  • Workshops:
    • "Approaching Web Accessibility With A Beginner's Mind" by Jeff Van Kleeck, Academic Affairs
    • "Assistive Technology Student Panel & Demo: Tools For Doing Everyday Activities in Diverse Ways" facilitated by John Lee, DRC
    • "5 Habits For Creating Accessible Word Documents" by Pam Dougherty, CTLT

It is noteworthy that a total of 267 students participated in some capacity in all 3 events. Survey results reflect positive overall feedback about the keynote and workshops.

A more detailed look at attendance and survey results for the two-day GAAD mini-conference is available at the three links below:

Thanks again for the generous support and funding from our GAAD 2018 partners: Career Services Diversity Funding Committee; Office of University Diversity and Inclusion (OUDI); College of Liberal Arts (Dean's Office and GrC); Orfalea College of Business; Student Affairs; Disability Resource Center (DRC); Information Technology Services (ITS); University Marketing; Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology (CTLT); College of Architecture & Environmental Design; Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre; and San Luis Obispo County Access For All (SLO AFA).

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day (Thursday, May 18, 2017)

The campus community can recognize the sixth annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on Thursday, May 18, by engaging in several activities. The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion of people with various disabilities. You can:

  1. Learn about web accessibility in a 10-minute course
  2. Try the free SensusAccess online document conversion service
  3. Learn about new accessibility tools in Office 365
  4. Learn how to fix automatic captions in your YouTube video
  5. Explore the Magnifier and Speak Screen accessibility features in iOS
  6. Watch two-minute video stories of tech users with disabilities

Learn about web accessibility

Learn how Cal Poly is improving web accessibility in support of the CSU Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI) by taking a 10-minute, online course titled "The CSU-ATI and Cal Poly Web Accessibility," located in Skillsoft under the Staff and Faculty tab in the portal.

To access the course:

  • Visit the Cal Poly Portal
  • Click on the "Staff and Faculty Training" Tab
  • Click on "Go to Skillsoft"
  • Click on "The CSU-ATI and Cal Poly Web Accessibility"
  • Questions? ATI@calpoly.edu / Cal Poly ATI Liaison - Craig Schultz

* If you are a student or are simply interested in additional training, please visit our resource list of free web accessibility trainings

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Try SensusAccess

Upload a document to SensusAccess, the free campus document conversion service. SensusAccess is hosted on a Kennedy Library website. A link to SensusAccess can be found on the bottom left side of every PolyLearn page. Turn a PDF into an mp3 or an image into an accessible PDF using the following steps:

Step 1) Click the "Choose file" button, then find the image or PDF on your hard drive that you want to convert; then click the "Upload" button.

Step 2) Select "Accessibility conversion" as the output format if converting from an image to an accessible PDF. (Select “mp3” if you want to convert your document to an mp3).

Step 3) Select "pdf - Tagged PDF" as the target format. A tagged PDF is a more accessible/readable one.

Step 4) Enter your Cal Poly email address where you want the converted "readable/tagged" PDF to be sent. Depending on the size of the PDF, you should receive an email within 15 minutes or an hour at most.

To hear the converted PDF read aloud, you can use the built-in Read Out Loud feature in the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software

  • Go to the View menu > Read Out Loud > Activate Read Out Loud. You can click on a paragraph to hear it read aloud, or choose to hear a page or the entire document read aloud.

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Office 365 Accessibility Features

Learn about the new accessibility features in Office 365:

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Fix Automatic Captions in YouTube

Learn how to fix automatic captions in YouTube in a video tutorial by CTLT’s Dr Luanne Fose. You can also read step-by-step instructions on how to edit captions in YouTube. This strategy is an easy one to use for short videos (5-10 minutes or less) that you own.

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iPhone and iPad Accessibility Settings

Turn on the Magnifier and Speak Screen features in the Accessibility settings of your iPhone or iPad (Settings app > General > Accessibility). Use the Magnifier to zoom in on objects around you. Use Speak Screen to have onscreen text (e.g., web articles, emails, text messages) read aloud.

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Video stories of tech users with disabilities

In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Apple has posted a series of seven videos called "Designed for Everyone." Each of these two-minute videos shows how real people make use of Mac, iOS and Apple Watch accessibility features from Switch Control to Siri to VoiceOver.

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Free web accessibility trainings

  • Google's free introductory course
  • Google free advanced on-line accessibility course. In this course you’ll get hands-on experience making web applications accessible.
  • IDRC – Understanding Web Accessibility
  • Faculty and staff can check out Lynda.com trainings on accessibility topics (Accessible PDFs, captioning) under the "Staff and Faculty Training" tab on the Portal
  • The Teach Access Tutorial provides basic accessibility training for developers and designers.
  • Start Building Accessible Web Applications (Egghead Videos). Subjects include Accessible Icon Buttons, Accessible Button Events, Building Forms with Accessibility in Mind, Headings and semantic structure for accessible web pages, and Focus management using CSS, HTML.
  • The Mozilla Developer Network has a series of accessibility guides covering HTML, CSS, JavaScript, ARIA and mobile development.
  • Updated W3C Web Accessibility Tutorials are now available. These tutorials show you how to create web content that is accessible to people with disabilities and that improves the user experience for all users. They include general guidance and specific examples for HTML5 and WAI-ARIA

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2016

You’re invited to help Cal Poly celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)
on Thursday, May 19th from 9:15 AM - 2 PM at Kennedy Library near Julian's Cafe.

GAAD is about awareness and to get people talking, thinking and learning about
digital accessibility (web, software, mobile) and users with different disabilities.

Come explore the empathy lab, interact with subject-matter experts, and engage
in hands-on workshops!

Schedule of Events (Kennedy Library)

  • 9:15 – 9:45 am – Kickoff (near Julian’s Café)
  • 10:00 – 2:00 pm – Empathy Lab is open to visitors (near Julian’s Café)
  • 10:00 – 11:00 am – Workshop “Creating accessible DOC/PDF”
    by Tonia Malone in Room 216B (Active Learning Lab)
  • 11:10 – 12:30 pm – Workshop “How to use Amara to caption videos
    you don’t own” by Dr. Luanne Fose in Room 216B (Active Learning Lab)
  • 2:00 pm – Empathy Lab closes

Make accessibility a forethought...not an afterthought!

GAAD 2016 flyer (PDF)

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Haben Girma Presentation - Thursday, May 26 at 11 AM (UU220)Haben Girma Presentation Flyer


Harvard Law’s first deafblind graduate, Haben Girma, excelled in large part because of the creation of a community that valued inclusion. Recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House, Haben moves us towards a world where people with disabilities access the same services, at the same institutions, and at the same time as non-disabled individuals. Technology designed with accessibility in mind truly transforms the lives of people with disabilities. Through this thoughtful presentation, Haben invites everyone to design services from the ground up with universal access in mind. To learn more about Haben, visit habengirma.com

Haben Girma Event Flyer

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