Creating Accessible Presentations in SMART Notebook
Post in News by Skyla Lilly on 30th October 2019
Last month, we discussed ways to make your SMART board more accessible for students in your classroom. That post focused on ways to make it possible for your students to have physical access to the board. But having physical access to the board is not the only factor in accessibility. You also have to be aware of the needs of your students right from the get-go. Below are some things to keep in mind when you’re creating accessible presentations in SMART Notebook.
Keep objects low and consistently placed
Even if it seems like your classroom has a great accessibility set up, it’s still a good idea to consider what might limit access to your presentation. Say you have a vocabulary exercise and the word bank is along the side of the screen. Students can come up and drag words from the side into the correct space on the board. If a student in a wheelchair comes up to the board, though, half of the words may be out of their reach. That problem is easily solved by moving the word bank to the bottom, making everything interactive accessible to them. You will have to play around with the positions of interactive elements and see what works best in your classroom. Once you have something that works – stick to it. Keeping your layouts consistent will help make accessible presentations easier for you and your students.
There are so many reasons that students might need or benefit from having extra written instructions or references built into the presentation. This is especially true for when presentations are shared with students and they are working on them solo. However, writing out all your instructions in each slide can make things cluttered and do the opposite of clarifying the task at hand. To solve this problem, you can add a pull tab to your pages. Adding a pull tab allows you to write instructions, vocabulary, or any reference material you want onto a tab that can be hidden from the page. If a student needs help, they can then pull the tab out at any point.
Pull tabs are kept in the gallery on the left side of your SMART Notebook screen. Open the Gallery and type “pull tab” into the search bar. When the results come up, open the Interactive and Multimedia folder and drag the pull tab from the side of the screen out onto your page. From there you can edit the title, the text inside the tab, the color, and which side of your screen it will snap to.
The visual medium of the SMART Board is a helpful tool if you have deaf students in your classroom, but there are still things you must consider to make your presentations accessible to all. SMART Notebook has the ability to add YouTube videos directly into the page. This is great for adding content directly into your presentation. One thing to consider, though, is that when you add your videos this way, there is no option for closed captioning. Instead, consider linking to the YouTube video via the browser instead.
To do this, select the text or object you’d like to click to bring you to the video and open the drop-down menu. You will see an option called “Link” close to the bottom of the menu. When you click this option, a new screen will come up asking for a web address. Paste the URL of the YouTube video you want into the text box. Before you click OK, be sure that next to “Launch by clicking” you have the object button selected. This will ensure that when you click the object or the text, it will open the browser.
Design and color
The font and color choices for a presentation are often trivialized as less important than the rest. But for students with visual impairments, color and font can make a big difference.
When choosing a font, be sure to go for one that is sans serif. These fonts are typically easier to read as they don’t have any extra lines or flourishes. Be sure to also make the font big enough to read! 32-point is a good baseline to start at, though don’t be afraid to go bigger.
The color of your fonts and backgrounds is important for readability as well. Having a high contrast of brightness between the two is especially important. For example, if you decided to put red words on a green background, it may look to you that the red words pop out. But certain types of color blindness cause people to see both red and green as different shades of brown. Therefore, if your red and green are both the same brightness level, that colorblind person may just see a plain brown slide. There are a number of resources online that outline good and bad color combinations for different types of colorblindness if you want to be specific. This simulator is also great if you have existing pages that you’d like to test out. Just upload the page or picture and click through to see how it looks for different kinds of vision.
These are just a few of the tools you can use to make your interactive lessons more accessible and fun for everyone in your class. As you gain more familiarity with SMART Notebook, creating accessible presentations will become second nature. Soon, you’ll be doing this (and so much more!) with the SMART Board in your classroom.