Partnership Results in New Service for Students with Disabilities
Beginning spring 2018, Western Washington University students, staff, and faculty will have a new accessibility service available to them. SensusAccess is a conversion service that makes documents searchable and accessible for individuals who use text-to-speech technology. This service allows users to convert inaccessible documents, such as course readings or assignments, into accessible versions at any time. You can learn more about and begin using this service by going here: access.wwu.edu/sensus.
In order to access documents used in everyday life, such as syllabi or admissions paperwork, individuals with specific kinds of disabilities may need to employ text-to-speech technology to read the document. However, the document first needs to be formatted to ensure that the assistive technology can read and deliver a coherent report of its contents to the person with a disability.
Historically, all requests for document conversion for accessibility purposes had to go through Western’s disAbility Resources for Students. But now with SensusAccess, students, staff, and faculty can create accessible versions of their documents as needed. Typical conversion rates vary due to a variety of factors but the usual turnaround time is less than 24 hours -- and the service is free for Western users! SensusAccess is intended as a self-service solution and complements existing accessibility services at Western.
Everyone at Western is encouraged to use this service when creating or reformatting educational or informational documents. Here are a few examples of how SensusAccess can be used:
● Faculty and Instructors: When you assign course readings that are formatted as scanned articles or PDFs, you can create an accessible version using SensusAccess. You can also learn more about PDF accessibility principles here: wp.wwu.edu/webtech/accessible-pdf/ and available training here: access.wwu.edu/.
● Staff: When you create informational documents, or if you need to convert an existing document into an accessible version, you can e-mail the newly accessible document to the student or colleague upon the completed conversion.
● Students: If you ever need an accessible version of your course materials, you may use the SensusAccess service.
Prospective users should know that SensusAccess is perfect for documents under 30 pages or so. However, if there are print-impaired individuals who require the conversion of large texts into accessible versions, these individuals should contact the disAbility Resources for Students office for assistance and support.
SensusAccess services at Western are made possible through an innovative partnership between Western Libraries, Web Communication Technologies (WebTech), and the disAbility Resources for Students office. SensusAccess is one example of several university-wide efforts dedicated to improving accessibility at Western in order to co-create an inclusive educational environment by providing a new tool to address a common problem. For more information, please see: Western Digital Accessibility.