Accessibility Tip of the Week: Accessibility as Universal Design

Model of building under construction to correlate with article about universal design and how it applies to accessibility

Accessible design has the potential to positively impact everyone, regardless of whether or not we perceive ourselves as having a disability that directly impacts computer use. This is because accessible design doesn’t exist within a vacuum, but rather, is an implementation of universal design principals. By making our content more accessible for some, we inherently make it more accessible for all.

In the physical world, this is perhaps best demonstrated in the application of curb cuts. In the 60s and 70s students at Berkley with mobility issues strove for greater independence and advocated to get curb cuts installed across the city. As their adoption became more widespread, however, others began to reap the benefits of a more accessible environment. Bike riders, and people pushing a stroller or shopping cart, appreciated the more universal design. Now it would be almost inconceivable to build a sidewalk devoid of ramps. By improving conditions for one segment of the population, the students at Berkley improved them for everyone.

While the physical world may be predefined, we have a unique opportunity in the digital realm. The virtual world is one we are actively building, and by taking universal design principals into account, we not only enhance the independence of those with disabilities, but we also improve the experience for everyone else. Closed captions can be quite handy when viewing a video in a noisy, or quiet, environment. Similarly, alt tags can fill in the gaps left by images that fail to load on a slow internet connection.

In this, more accurate framework, the population that benefits from accessible design expands drastically. It expands universally. This can be helpful to keep in mind as we progress along the continuum of accessibility. Be selfish in your design decisions. In doing so, you’ll help everyone else.

The Website Accessibility Resources page has guides covering the steps involved in incorporating universal design into your digital presence. If you have questions regarding creating accessibkle content, please reach out to the Communications Department.

Please ignore automated email sent by Riverside DataManager

Last spring we emailed all employees to ask that you ignore an automated email from a vendor, Riverside DataManager. The automated email was sent in error by the vendor and asked employees to enter a password to access “DataManager.” Some employees recently notified OSD Technology that they received a similar email from the same vendor. Technology reports this, too, was an automated email sent in error. This is not a phishing or scam email, but you are not required to create a password.  There is no follow-up by employees required.

Flags lowered to half-staff through October 22

Flags at half-staff in front of Avanti HS buidling

Pursuant to Presidential Proclamation, Gov. Inslee has directed that Washington state and United States flags at all state agency facilities, including schools and support buildings, be lowered to half-staff in honor and memory of General Colin Powell and his life of service.

Flags should remain at half-staff until close of business or sunset on Friday, October 22, 2021.

Other government entities, citizens and businesses are encouraged to join this recognition.

Nominate an Everyday Hero who is making a difference!

Everyday Heroes Logo with the words: Celebrating OSD Employees

Everyday Heroes is a regular feature in this staff blog. We encourage staff to submit names of employees districtwide who have done something deserving of encouragement and praise. Give a shout out to one of your colleagues at your school or support building and watch for it to appear in an upcoming Everyday Heroes blog post.

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

  • Email the Communications and Community Relations Department (communications@osd.wednet.edu) a few sentences, and no more than 200 words, about why the person deserves recognition. It’s easiest to write as if speaking directly to the colleague, such as “Thank you for helping with…” or “I really appreciated when you…”
  • Write “Everyday Heroes” in the subject heading of the email.
  • Include your first and last name as the person submitting the comments.
  • Include the first and last name of the OSD employee you are recognizing.
  • Include the job title and work location (school or department) of the person you are recognizing.

All submissions will be posted in this blog on a weekly basis and archived each week.

OSDEF launches annual wreath sales online to benefit Foundation programs

OSDEF Logo with image of stick figures of an adult and children and the name of the Foundation beneath

Holiday wreath sales are open online on the Olympia School District Education Foundation website. Proceeds will help support all of the Olympia School District Education Foundation’s (OSDEF’s) programs: the Principal’s Emergency Fund, Mental Health Initiative and Teaching & Learning Grants.

The 22-inch locally sourced and created wreaths are $25 each and will be available for contactless pickup at either Capital or Olympia high schools on Sunday, Nov. 21 only. Pickup location is chosen at the time of purchase. Those who cannot pick up on Nov. 21 may send a designee.

While this fundraiser has typically helped offset the cost of outdoor education for fifth graders, this year, with the uncertainty of field trips due to COVID-19, sales will instead benefit other programs that support the Foundation’s mission to empower every student.

Questions? Contact OSDEF Executive Director Katy Johansson at (360) 596-6110 or katy@osdef.org.

Webinar recording about Academic and Student Well-Being Recovery Plan is posted on website

Close up of a microphone

On Wednesday, October 6, our community was invited to a 1-hour Zoom webinar hosted by the district to learn about the OSD Academic and Student Well-Being Recovery Plan and ask questions of the panelists: Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Executive Director of Student Support Ken Turcotte and Chief Academic Officer Hannah Gbenro.

View the webinar recording, which is also posted as a news story on the OSD website.

This is the first of planned monthly webinars to provide the community with updates about various initiatives and/or programs during the 2021-22 school year.

The next Zoom webinar is scheduled from 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 3. We will share the topic and Zoom links in next week’s blog.

County health officials announce new voluntary COVID-19 testing options

High School students write an assignment at their desks in a classroom

Thurston County health officials have announced new voluntary COVID-19 testing options designed to reduce the length of quarantine for an unvaccinated, asymptomatic student or employee identified as a close contact to a positive COVID case.

The testing options are outlined in a new Thurston County Public Health and Social Services (PHSS) flowchart for symptomatic students and staff posted on the county website on October 8.

In summary, the two new voluntary testing options are:

  • 7-Day Quarantine Option: An unvaccinated student or employee who is identified as a close contact at school/work and is asymptomatic (does not exhibit COVID symptoms) must stay home from school/work for at least 7 days and take a COVID-19 test between day 5 and 7 of the quarantine. If the test is negative, the quarantine ends on day 8 and the student or employee may return to school/work and continue to monitor for symptoms until day 14. If the test is positive, the individual must isolate at home for 10 days View more details about the 7-day quarantine option on page 3 of the PHSS flowchart for symptomatic students and staff.
  • “Test to Stay” Program: This option applies only to an asymptomatic, unvaccinated student (not employee) identified as a close contact at school. The student may attend school if all testing criteria outlined by county health officials, including two negative COVID-19 tests (one on day 2-3, and another on day 5-7) are met. Students may not attend any extracurricular activities, including sports, and other activities outside their home like childcare or youth development groups, during this time. View more details about the Test to Stay Program for students on page 4 of the PHSS flowchart.

Students who become symptomatic at school or qualify for Test to Stay may access free COVID-19 rapid tests at their schools with parent/guardian permission. The COVID Rapid Test Consent Form is located in Skyward Family Access. Additionally, take-home Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests are available to students 18 years and older, and staff, who become symptomatic at school. This limited testing will only be available as long as there are testing supplies and staff capacity.

Be sure to get the latest health and safety updates on the OSD website.

School year calendar correction: School is in session on January 3, 2022

Graphic of calendar page being flipped up and the words "2022 Calendar Correction January 3, 2022: School In Session

The 2021-22 Olympia School District school year calendar has been updated to reflect that school is in session on Monday, January 3, 2022.

A previously published version of this calendar mistakenly stated that there was no school on January 3, 2022. The updated OSD school year calendar is available on our School Year Calendar page.

Please also be sure to update your copy of the OSD 12-month printed wall calendar to reflect that school is in session on January 3, 2022.

We apologize for the confusion.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Creating alternatives for complex images

Some images are difficult to describe succinctly. Images such as graphs or flow charts don’t lend themselves to simple interpretation, and can be concerning when approached from an accessibility standpoint.

In actuality, these complex images can be simple to make accessible. Rather than provide an alternative text tag, the author can include additional content alongside their complex image. This additional content not only enhances accessibility, but also improves the user experience overall.

Graphs

When it comes to graphs or charts, the easiest and most accessible route is to provide a data table alongside the image. Take for example this graph showing the high and low temperatures across a week:

Olympia high and low temps week of 2/13/19 - table included below

While the chart does well to show trends, the true numerical values are locked within the image itself. Including a corresponding data table is particularly helpful in conveying exact figures and ensures the data is accessible to all. 

Temp

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

High

40

32

34

39

42

38

33

Low

32

15

14

22

27

28

16

Doing this also enables users to copy and paste the data. A live example of this practice can be seen on the district’s 2018 Annual Report.

Flow Charts

Another complex image type is a flow chart. Take for example this flow chart from the Capital High School Course Catalog:

CHS course catalog flow chart example - list version included below

Similar to the graph above, a flow chart can be challenging to describe in paragraph form. What can be included to enhance accessibility? In this case, the answer would be to include the flow chart in list form alongside the graphic. This flow chart could be displayed as:

  • Algebra 1 (required)
    • Geometry (required)
      • 4-year college path options (Meets 3rd math credit)
        • Algebra 2 (C or better in Geometry)
          • IB Discrete (B or better in Alg2)
            • Pre Calculus (B or better in Discrete)
          • Pre Calculus (B or better in Alg2)
            • IB Calculus SL (B or better in Pre Calc)
              • IB Calculus HL (B or better in Calc)
      • Non 4-year college options (Meets 3rd math credit)
        • Financial Algebra (Alg & Geom)
        • Precision / Bicycle Manufacturing (Alg & Geom)
        • Robotics Math (Alg & Geom)

Similar to the chart and table example, this simplified layout also allows for content to be copied and pasted later on.

By providing alternatives in these ways, we can work not only to enhance the accessibility of our content, but also the general usability.

As always, if you have any questions regarding creating accessible content, please reach out to the Communications Department.

K-1 Highly Capable Services referrals due October 29

OSD Student Outcomes poster listing six student outcomes as referenced in the link in the post

Background

The information in this blog post is being shared by the Teaching & Learning team with all staff, considering:

  • many staff live in our community and might know a student in kindergarten or first grade who should be recommended for Highly Capable Services.
  • our emphasis on increasing access to Highly Capable Services in alignment with Student Outcomes #2 and #4 and the commitments of our Board in our Recovery Plan.

Eligibility Reflection Questions

Do you know a student in kindergarten or 1st grade who:

  • Thinks up unusual ways to solve difficult problems?
  • Generates and comprehends complex and abstract ideas?
  • Exhibits feelings and opinions from multiple perspectives?
  • Thinks logically and wants things to make sense?
  • Prefers the company of intellectual peers?
  • Is an expert who abstracts beyond the field?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, please consider referring the student for identification for Highly Capable Services.

Referral Process & Timeline

Referrals may come from community members, teachers, other staff, parents/guardians and students. The referral window for students in kindergarten and first grade to be considered for Highly Capable Services is open now and will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, October 29, 2021.

  • Curious what the steps for identification and timeline look like for this process? Details can be found here.
  • To learn more about OSD’s highly capable services, go to Olympia School District’s Highly Capable Services webpage, where you will find information regarding identification and services, as well as links to the referral form.
  • Physical copies of the referral form are available and can be picked up at the front desk of the Knox Administrative Center located at 111 Bethel St. N.E. in Olympia. 

Who to Contact

If you have questions, please contact members of the Teaching & Learning team through our general email address: Knox-K12TeachLearn@osd.wednet.edu.

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