Ros Walker

…learning, education, technology and stuff

Academic Referencing for blind or visually-impaired students, using NVDA or JAWS

Ros Walker & Samuel Kacer

This year I have worked with several blind / visually-impaired students who have found academic referencing hard work – actually, who doesn’t?

I have produced a short guide to using the Referencing Tab in Word with NVDA and JAWS – it seems to work in both. I couldn’t find this information anywhere else in a simple format. I produced a first version and this has been revised by Samuel Kacer, an NVDA user. I would add that this is best taught with a librarian who can also discuss and explain referencing as a whole, but these are the buttons to press to bring up the sections that you need.

Aims:

  • To create and manage a list of your academic sources.
  • To use your list in citations or as references in you work in Word.
  • To create a Bibilography at the end of the work, showing your sources.

Introduction

Using sources correctly is an important part of academic work and collecting your sources as you read is important. We reference academic work so that others can see accurately where our ideas have come from and so that they can revisit the original work or contact the author if they need to. Please note that this guidance is not designed to teach you everything you need to know about referencing. You should still work with an academic tutor or librarian about your referencing needs, but this guidance will give you a good way of recording your sources and using them in your work. Word has a good, basic tool for managing referencing, which is on a tab called the References tab, although we should think of it as being the Sources tab, as it is accessed through the letter S.

Summary of most important keys:

Alt+S gives access to the references tab in Word

Then M gives the Source Manager

C gives the list of references for citations

B gives the bibliography.

 

Detailed Guidance

1.     To open the references tab in Word

To get to the references Tab in Word:  alt+S

2.     To open source manager

To open a dialogue box called ‘Manage Sources’:  press M (Note, a dialogue box is a box which sits on top of your current page. You cannot use your page whilst it is open.)

This box contains your database of sources or references. It is made up of records. You will use one record for each source or reference. Each record contains fields. For example, you may have 20 sources or records, but each one has fields like author, title, date, publisher.

There are two areas in this box. The first is the Master list, which is all your sources. Once created, this is present in the background for every Word document. The second is the Current List. This is a list of the sources that you are using in the particular Word document that you are working in. When you add a new source, it appears in both lists in that Word document. If you move to another Word document, and you want to use a reference, you may need to copy it across to your ‘current list’ to use it in citations.

To close the source manager at any stage, you can press escape and the dialogue box will close.

3.     To add a new reference/source in the Source Manager

To create new source record: ALT+N

This opens on the field for the type of source (eg book, book chapter, journal article etc.) To select the type of source, use the up and down arrow keys. Press tab to move to the next field.

If you need to revisit your source as you are entering details, press Alt+Tab and select the source file. Use Alt+tab to return to your word doc and continue adding the details.

Depending on the source type you have chosen, you will then get different fields to complete the record. Press tab to move to the next field.

When you hear Author: type in the name of the author, with the surname, firstname or sometimes surname, initial (eg. Brown, Peter or Brown, P)

If your author is an organisation (eg Department for Education), you can tick the box that says Corporate Author. To tick the box, press the space bar.

Continue to Tab through the remaining fields, adding the information about the source as you go.

Towards the end of the record, there is a field that says ‘Show all bibliography fields’. If checked, this adds a lot of extra fields, which are, in general, not necessary – so ignore it.

The next is a field called ‘Tag Name’ – this is also not needed, so tab again.

When you get to OK, press enter to save and close the record.

Note: You can press enter at any stage of the entry process without going right to the end and the record will be saved and the dialogue box closed.

 

4.     To move an item from your Master List to your Current List, select it in the Master list

 

Note: an item added in a document will automatically appear in both lists for that document. You only need to do this if the item was added originally in another Word document.

To open your Source manager: M

It opens automatically in your Master List. Use the up and down arrows to find the reference that you want to use in this assignment. Press alt+C to copy it to your current list.

Tab to close button and press enter.

 

5.     To edit a source:

To open your Source manager: M

It opens automatically in your Master List. Use the up and down arrows to find the reference that you want to edit. Press alt+E to edit.

Move around your form using tab to move down through the fields (or shift+tab to move upwards) and make your corrections.

Tab to close button and press enter.

Note: You can press escape at any stage when editing and the dialogue box will close, without changing any edits. Or, you can press enter after making your changes and the box will close and save your changes.

 

6.     Choose your referencing style.

You will need to find out from your tutor which style they want you to use. APA and Harvard are the most common.

Open the Sources toolbar: Alt+S

Choose the list of possible referencing styles: press L

Use arrow keys to select your referencing style.

Press enter when you hear the style that you need.

 

7.     To add a citation in your work

Working in your Word document, add a citation. This can be in a couple of formats, either a direct or indirect quote.

“Researchers have found that most people like chocolate.” OR

In research, it has been found that most people like chocolate.

You will want to add where this information has come from.

After your direct or indirect quotation,

Type in your direct or indirect quotation.

Open the Sources toolbar: Alt+S

Open the citation list (which gives your possible sources): press C

Use the arrow keys to move up and down until you hear your reference, then press enter.

This adds the reference to the source as, for example, Brown (2007

 

8.     To add your references list at the end of your work

Go to the end of your work.

Open the Sources toolbar: Alt+S

To open the bibliography menu: press B

You can choose whether you want Bibliography, References or works cited. Choose the one you want and press enter.

 

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Synonyms: easy, simple, straightforward

Academic writing can be a challenge! The language used sometimes feels so far-removed from what we speak, and if you have never had wide exposure to a range of texts, then finding those elusive, new words can be hard work.

Enter Word’s synonyms tool.

You probably never knew that it was there, because it hides away in the Review toolbar, or on a right-click menu.

Let’s have a go:

Researchers will look at several methods to solve this problem.

‘Look at’ is a phrasal verb (made up of two parts) and is not very elegant in this context. We tend to use a lot of phrasal verbs in speech, but there are often more sophisticated words that we can use. This is where a Thesauraus comes in useful. Originally, the word ‘Thesaurus’ came from Greek (θησαυρός (thēsaurós)) meaning a ‘storehouse’ or ‘treasure’ and what it contains nowadays is the richness of our language. English typically has several words that can all be used with the same or very similar meaning. (Roget’s Thesaurus, the most famous edition, was originally compiled in 1805 and published in 1852. It has never been out of print!)

So, let’s look at how Word can make my sentence sound better.

I am going to highlight and right-click over ‘look at’ and see what it offers:

synonyms

Now, let’s review the sentence:

Researchers will explore several methods to solve this problem.

Researchers will investigate several methods to solve this problem.

Both sound much more ‘academic’ than ‘look at’.

If we do not have any options within the drop-down list, we can go right down to the word ‘Thesaurus’. This opens up a full thesaurus at the side of the page. This even pronounces words for you, and let’s you move through a series of words and definitions. (If you intend to use this regularly, it is also worth installing the dictionary.)

So, no more bland, insipid, weak, plain, flat language! Get using the Synonym selector and brighten things up!

PS – If you find you like synonyms, have a play with thesaurus.com

 

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Mapping your University Course

Arriving at University can be totally overwhelming, with a huge amount of information to take in very quickly. One thing that can help is having a clear overview of what your course looks like. It’s important for the way you organise your studies and can be really helpful in guiding how your set up your digital resources, like folders on your computer.  This is also useful at the start of each University year. It is likely that you will be taking a number of modules and mapping these, with some key information about each one, can give you a visual reference point to help you understand your course.

You could begin with something really simple like this- just the title of your course and the modules that you are taking:

18_01_2018 13_51 Office Lens (003)

You may want to do a slightly more detailed one, which could involve looking at information like a Module Handbook, which is often given to you or stored in your VLE (UniLearn at Huddersfield University). These booklets are sometimes neglected, but looking at them at the start of the course will give you a real clear idea of what you will be doing, what is expected from you and many of your key dates.

handdrawn map of course v2

It took about 2 hours to pull out all this information, but it means that you know exactly where you are in your course. It is useful to cross-reference the dates straight onto a calendar or into your mobile phone calendar if you can.

You can then take this further if you want with software like MindView 7.

My Course BA Youth and Community Work

A map like this is ideal to print off and keep on your study wall, or on the front of a file. You can do more detailed ones for each module if you want. This does then help you with setting up your electronic filing system as well:

Folders for modules

With a folder for each module, you should keep all those documents in order. And, you can always add sub-folders inside each one – like:

  • Lecture notes
  • Assignments
  • Reading
  • Seminars

Hope this helps with your organisation and if you need any support with your file management or with MindView, and you are at Huddersfield University, you can contact me through HudStudy.

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Making your PowerPoints accessible to visually-impaired users

I think it is fair to say that PowerPoint is still a major part of teaching in Higher Education. Most lectures centre around a presentation, which has been prepared in advance on PowerPoint.

It is also widely known that many students find it useful, if not essential, to download these PowerPoints before the lecture so that they can prepare themselves for what they may hear – checking out unknown vocabulary, refreshing their knowledge of already-known topics that underlie the lecture or just making copies ready on their laptops or on paper for notes to be taken.

All well and good. Except, it’s not quite that simple for visually impaired students.

PowerPoint presentations can be empty for students who rely on screen-readers, if the content has not been added properly.

Let me explain.

PowerPoint can’t add things that are in text boxes to the outline view, which is what visually-impaired users rely on, because it can be read out loud to them from the computer.

This first image shows a PowerPoint presentation (yes, I know the content is basic, but stick with me!)

My cat_1

If I go to View > Outline View – this is what I see in an inaccessible version – and this is what a blind/visually-impaired student relies on.

My cat_2

If you go to View > Outline View in an accessible version – this is what you see – something that can be read easily with a screen-reader. It hasn’t taken any ‘extra’ work – it’s just used PowerPoint as it is meant to be used.

My cat_3

So, how do we do it? 

The key is DO NOT USE TEXT-BOXES. Use the layouts that PowerPoint gives you when you add a new slide. Although it may look like a text box, these are actually ‘content’ boxes and are included in Outline View. So, go to New Slide and add the layout that you want. Only type within those boxes. If you want to check your PowerPoint for accessibility, go to File > Check for Issues (which is a box under the Info heading) and then choose Check Accessibility. It will highlight any immediate problems.

You should also add ALT text to any images or graphs that you use. This article explains how to do that.

 

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Digital Accessibility

Last November, I took a course with FutureLearn on Digital Accessibility. It was a fantastic course – so good that I repeated it in February 2017.

You can read my review of it at the Association for Learning Technology’s blog.

A Review of the Digital Accessibility FutureLearn course.

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Sonocent and NoteTalker

Yesterday, I attended a day organised by the University of Derby’s Assessment Centre, where we had the chance to look at two pieces of software designed to help with note-taking. Both systems had some similarities. They both work on a mobile device, tablet or laptop in a lecture theatre, and to work well, both recommend an additional directional microphone to capture the lecturer’s voice. I was using an iPhone 7 and actually managed to get a good quality recording using the built-in microphone for Sonocent, but I was in the front row with only a few other people in the room. Both also offered a back-up battery charger pack so that the mobile devices could be recharged during the day. The one from NoteTalker was like a thick credit-card. The Sonocent was a bit chunkier. Both pieces of software can be recommended as part of DSA when the software meets the needs of the students. They can also be purchased  by individuals.

Sonocent was the first of these. In this system, you can colourcode the audio timeline as you are listening, import the presentation slides, add pictures by using the camera on the device and type text.  When I returned to the office, I downloaded and installed the software in less than 5 minutes and was really impressed with the clean interface and the way that the lecture had been ‘chunked’ for me. I was able to transfer the file I had recorded very quickly via Google drive. I then added additional notes, web links, images and finally, if I wanted print out my final version of my notes, giving a very ‘clean’ summary of the lecture. I still haven’t explored all the desktop version has, but it had enough that I could get to grips with it quickly.
Priced at £49.99 for an annual licence (or £149.99 for a perpetual licence.) Nov 2016.

Note-Talker was the second of the presentations.  The app was very easy to install on my phone. The audio quality was noticeably poorer and would have benefited from a directional microphone. You can vary the quality of the capture, but increasing this and changing it to CD quality resulted in the sound capture being like a gabbling alien. The software was very similar but in striking yellow, black and white colours. On this software, I was able to add photos taken with my device, and bookmarks. I could click during the talk, and add a named bookmark. Unfortunately, I wasn’t easily able to transfer off the files that I had recorded- it offered One drive and Dropbox, but I use Google Drive. So, I thought I would just record another file into the desktop version of the software. This failed twice. Had it worked, I would have been able to chunk up my lecture, and a feature not available in Sonocent is the Maths keyboard, allowing me to add equations. I did wonder how valuable this was, when I can use the built-in maths keyboard in Word and then take a snapshot to add to the lecture notes. For me, this software was garish and a bit ‘clunky’ – and the difficulties of installing and running the desktop version have put me off.

On leaving the sessions, our opinions were split with some preferring Sonocent and some Notetalker. Having tested them further, my personal preference would be Sonocent, but of course, we have to look primarily at the needs of our students.

I do have one big question, which relates to both pieces of software. At the University of Huddersfield, we have just introduced lecture capture. This means that students already have a good quality recording of the lecture. I am not sure what additional benefit the note-taking apps give in relation to making the audio recordings. Our students can now review, bookmark and add notes alongside the lecture, although the output from the Sonocent desktop software is superior in quality to that offered at present by the lecture capture software, but it did strike me that a student could take a slide set from a lecture, add Notes into the Notes section, whilst watching the video that had been lecture captured.

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Fancy a brew?

This is a real quickie, but I just had to share it. I’ve been doing quite a bit of work in primary schools recently and this came up on my Facebook today. It’s definitely right in our neck of the woods – and I’m impressed that the child recognised three sounds in this word.

broo

 

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Best student response systems

In my role as a Learning Technologist, I have just produced two articles, which discuss student response systems. The articles were compiled from my own knowledge, research and experience (Post 1) and from the ALT discussion forum (Post 2).

The first blog post these looked at the functions of student response systems and what to consider.

The second blog post looked at the systems available (as mentioned by other learning techs on the ALT forum) and their merits.

Written August 2014.

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Lecture Capture with Echo 360

In May 2014, I attended a conference in London on Echo360, the software (and hardware) solution that The University of Sheffield uses for lecture capture. It was a great conference and you can read about my experiences here:

http://learningtechnologiesteam.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/persistent-learning-learning-about.htm

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MELSIG – Smart Devices for Learning

You can see my work blog on this at: http://learningtechnologiesteam.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/melsig-over-easter-melsig-multimedia.html

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