Colleges fix 100,000 files to make digital content accessible

The 24-hour Fix Your Content Day competition helps improve user experience for those with disabilities and impairments.

Students with disabilities often encounter challenges when accessing digital content, even on some of the most popular home pages.

From low-contrast text to empty links, users can have their web experiences greatly affected or rendered nearly pointless if site content is not adaptable and available. One of the best examples is “alt image text”, the words that accompany photos or graphics that can help the visually impaired. Two-thirds of all home pages are missing some of that text.

To address inclusivity issues on digital course content, colleges and university teams from across the country gathered last week to see if they could provide some solutions through Blackboard’s second-annual Fix Your Content Day Challenge. As part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, some 115 institutions faced off in a 24-hour race to the finish to see which could deliver the most fixes.

The champion – with 3.53 fixes for each student it has on its campus – was Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro, Ga., which found a total of 5,480 solutions for course files. The next five were also from the Georgia technical college system – Coastal Pines (3.30 per student, 6,284 fixes), Wiregrass Georgia (2.35, 5,966), Oconee Fall Line (1.52, 3,348), Augusta (1.49, 5,010) and Georgia Piedmont (1.28, 2,581) The institution with the most files fixed overall was Florida International University in Miami, which managed to provide more than 16,300 solutions.

All told, more than 108,000 total adjustments via accessibility tool Blackboard Ally were made by the teams, nearly twice as many as they managed in the first year of the event.

“We were so inspired to see that around the world, institutions took up the challenge and shined a light on digital accessibility in the classroom,” said Dan Loury, Senior Product Management Director at Blackboard. “As a community, we know one day and one competition isn’t the end, rather the beginning of an ongoing journey toward learning experiences that are more inclusive, equitable and accessible.”

Rounding out the top 10 by fixes per students were: Concordia University in Texas, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Central Georgia Technical College and Kansas City (Kansas) Community College. Teams from those technical schools and community colleges found more than some large institutions in the friendly competition in terms of total fixes and fixes per students – including several from the Cal State University system, the University of Florida and University of Alabama and institutions overseas.

Regional winners included: Asia PacificCharles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia (0.31, 2,504 fixes); Europe – York St. John University, York, England (0.20 per student, 1,229 fixes);and Middle East and Africa – British University in Dubai (0.71 files per student, 1,422 fixes).

The Fix Your Content Day Challenge was the culmination of a four-week course offered by Blackboard to improve user experiences, particularly for those who have disabilities or impairments.

“Course content that meets students where they are is a critical element of a more inclusive learning environment,” Loury said. “That institutions from around the world can join together in a friendly competition to demonstrate that need and commit to making their campuses more inclusive is a powerful statement and a mission we are proud to be a part of.”

Chris Burt
Chris Burt
Chris is a reporter and associate editor for University Business and District Administration magazines, covering the entirety of higher education and K-12 schools. Prior to coming to LRP, Chris had a distinguished career as a multifaceted editor, designer and reporter for some of the top newspapers and media outlets in the country, including the Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel, Albany Times-Union and The Boston Globe. He is a graduate of Northeastern University.

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