Continuous Learning Support due to COVID-19

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has chosen to use the language “Continuous Learning” as opposed to “eLearning”, “distance learning” or “virtual learning” to help school leaders think holistically and progressively about how to best meet the needs of all learners.

The PATINS Project is providing increased support to Indiana educators through virtual meetings and resource guides as access and equity must be considered when developing and implementing continuous learning plans.

Daily Zoom Office Hours

Pop into one of the PATINS open office hours in Zoom to ask specific questions involving accessibility, assistive technology, Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) and/or Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and their application with continuous learning. These are held at 10 am and 2 pm EST each weekday through April 2020.

Accessible Digital Content

Are your lessons accessible for students and their parents/caregivers? With the move to continous learning, adults in the home have taken on a greater role in assisting students with school work. If the materials sent home or online lessons are not accessible for those with visual impairments, those who are deaf/hard of hearing, and/or for those have difficulty with reading printed text, your students may not have the same access to the content as other students. This can lead to both student and parent/caregiver frustration. Take a look at the Accessible Digital Content document or view the corresponding webinar recording for no-cost ways you can ensure the presentation of the content is accessible for a broad range of users.

Continuous Learning and Accommodations

When providing remote instruction and learning activities to students with Individual Education Programs (IEP) and Section 504 Plans, it is required to provide accommodations as stated within each student’s plan. The Indiana Department of Education - Office of Special Education, in collaboration with the Indiana IEP Resource Center (IEPRC), has developed a list of daily accommodations that are frequently used by students in the brick and mortar setting and examples of how these accommodations can be applied remotely when implementing continuous learning.

Described and Captioned Media Program

DCMP provides access to over 8,000 accessible educational videos through online streaming and DVD. Families, educators, and other professionals who have at least one student with a disability are eligible for a free membership. Registration is simple and easy.

Digital Educational Materials and Resources for Continuous Learning

Best practices are to create, maintain and support students with accessible educational materials. This will allow students to access grade-level content independently and access content at their comprehension level. While this is a resource for available audiobooks and other reading supports, please be mindful that students who need specialized formats of text (audio & digital text, braille, large print), should have access to those needed formats with all classroom materials.

Guiding Policy Questions for Your Continuous Learning Team

This resource can help guide your district's continous learning teams while constructing a comprehensive policy for providing digital instruction.

ICAM - Supports & Resources for Continuous Learning during COVID-19

The ICAM team would like to offer supports and resources to assist educators, parents, and anyone who will be assisting students while schools are shut down. Please let us know if you have any information that we can share with others. 

Professional Development Guide

PATINS specialists have scheduled extra no-cost webinars that will have strategies and tools for accessible continuous learning. Topics include captioning solutions, supporting students with emotional disabilities, working on core words/AAC at home, ways to use the Desmos online calculator suite, Windows accessibility, receiving digital formats of curriculum texts for students with print disabilities, and more. Register through the Calendar on our website. Webinars can also be requested for any time and on any topic to assist with the implementation of continuous learning. Complete the form to request a training.

Continuous Learning Resources for Students using AAC

Compiled by PATINS Project Staff and local educators, the "Using Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) while eLearning" document contains back up/low tech AAC boards* and core word and language learning activities that students can use in the home. 

*Note: The back up/low tech AAC boards are not necessarily an equitable replacement of the system(s) provided by a school for free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Twitter Chat

Join #PatinsIcam Twitter Chat Tuesdays at 8:30 PM EST to discuss accessibility, assistive technology, Accessible Educational Materials (AEM), and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), all with a focus on continuous learning. Indiana educators can earn 1 Professional Growth Point for attending and completing a short questionnaire. If you have never attended one of our chats before, we encourage you to try it and join our supportive personal learning network. Here are a few tips to help you get started with Twitter Chats.

UDL & Special Education Considerations for Continuous Learning

Find tools, strategies, guiding questions, and other resources to support universal design for learning (UDL) and special education while implementing continuous learning and instruction.

Video Conferencing Tool Support

This Table to Compare Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams, Skype & Zoom is provided to help compare three popular videoconferencing solutions used by Indiana Educators.  It will help you determine which platform is most beneficial for your students to use.  It is not exhaustive and if you need additional support, please reach out to a PATINS Specialist.

View Zoom instructions for students who use the video conferencing tool on Computer, Linux, Chromebook, iOS, Android, and Phone. Includes common troubleshooting support. View Keeping Your Zoom Rooms Safe and Private for suggestions on settings and habits for hosts.

View Google Hangouts Meet Instructions for students who use the video conferencing tool on Computer, Chromebook, iOS, Android, and Phone.

What about my Assistive Technology Lending Library Loan?

Please contact Assistive Technology Lending Library Managers, Carrie Owens or Sheri Schoenbeck with questions/concerns regarding loans and shipping policies.


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Accessible Digital Content

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 

Guiding document created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Widely accepted and adopted into policy around the world. The U.S. Department of Justice has consistently required compliance with WCAG 2.0 in many judgements. This document has broken down accessibility into four areas, P.O.U.R - Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust 


  • Alt text - no images of text with the exception of logos
  • Closed captions or transcript
  • Sufficient contrast
  • Legible fonts & proper spacing
  • Meaning not solely conveyed by color
  • Meaningful sequence


  • Clear headings / info structure
  • Descriptive links
  • Keyboard operation
  • No flashing content
  • Sufficient time to respond / interact


  • Clear directions / models
  • Consistent navigation
  • Plain language
  • Define abbreviations
  • Indicate document language
  • Error identification


  • Test for accessibility
  • Test for use with basic assistive technology

Design & Accessibility Elements


  • Use Heading 1 for the topic of the page or document 
  • Only one Heading 1 per page or document
  • Headings 2-4 follow
    • Most web pages won’t use headings past level 4
  • Don’t skip heading levels

Color & Contrast 

Images & Alt text - Image Description

  • Keep all images “In Line with Text” and use the alignment buttons to change the location of the image. Images not inline will not be read by a screen reader.
  • All images conveying meaning should have alt text added to the description field of the alt text dialog box
  • Decorative images do not require alt text
  • Avoid images of text
    • If using an image of text, it must be given alt text to the description field of the alt text dialog box
  • Detailed images should have detailed descriptions
    • Add long descriptions as a caption or in a separate doc or appendix that is hyperlinked to the image caption or adjacent text
  • Ensure inserted text boxes images, shapes, SmartArt, videos, charts, and embedded objects also have alt text

Videos: Captions & Audio Descriptions

  • All video content must be captioned
  • Videos should not automatically start playing or loop
  • Video command buttons must be present
  • Automatic captions are available for live presentations in Google Slides & Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Additional captioning resources
  • Audio descriptions describe nonverbal content in a video

Recognizable Links That Are Clear

  • Links should be visually distinguishable
    • (Typically) blue & underlined
    • Reserve all underlines for hyperlinks
  • Hyperlinks should be descriptive describing where the link goes or what it does
    • Avoid “click here” or "read more" as these are not descriptive
  • Use shortened links when URL must be given
  • Links should open in the same window or the user should be alerted when opening a new window

Font & Writing

  • Write between 5th-8th grade reading level
  • Use true text (avoid images of text)
    • Logos are the exception; still need alt text
  • Avoid justified & centered text
  • Avoid using all CAPS & Italics
    • If needing to bring attention to your text, consider adding an asterisk or text like, "Please Note" to indicate importance to users of screen readers in addition to any visual indicators like bold or highlights
  • Use basic Sans Serif fonts like Arial, Verdana, Helvetica
  • Be mindful of line length (60-70 characters per line)

Charts & Tables

  • Don’t use tables for layout
  • Avoid merged cells
  • Tables should have headers
    • Use a simple table structure, and ensure that you have a header for each column. You must also specify column header information. *Grackle will assist with this. In Word, you’ll want to make sure that Header Row is checked on the Table Tools Design tab (this is the default setting)
    • If a table spans more than one page, you’ll need to ensure the header row is repeated on each page:
      • Right click on table > Table Properties > Row > Check “Repeat as header row at the top of each page
    • Verify table structure with tab key
  • Charts should be given alt text 
    • Info displayed in chart should be described in narrative form or included in a table

Lists & Spacing

  • Use provided buttons for bulleted or numbered lists & indentation
    • Don’t create lists with shapes or symbols & spacebar or tab key
  • Create white space with Paragraph & Spacing (Line spacing) button (if available) rather than Enter

Slide Accessibility

Layouts & Titles

  • Use the provided slide layouts; creating your own layout causes disruption in the reading order for use with a screen reader
  • All slides need unique titles:
    • When information continues onto a new slide, make it unique by adding numbers to the titles (i.e. Accessibility 1, Accessibility 2, etc…)
    • If you don’t want a title to be shown, you can adjust its visibility in PowerPoint from the Home tab > Select > Selection Pane > turn off visibility by clicking the eye icon

Videos & Captions

Alt Text

  • Ensure inserted text boxes images, shapes, SmartArt, videos, charts, and embedded objects have alt text by right-clicking on the image and selecting “Alt text / Edit Alt Text”
    • The alt text should be added to the Description field
    • If you are adding a logo to all of your slides, add it to first slide with alt text and then insert it into the rest of your slides via the slide master

Lists & Spacing

  • Avoid “hard enters.” Instead of adding extra space by pressing enter, adjust your line spacing with spacing button in the toolbar, or simply accept the automatic formatting Office or GSuite offers you
  • When adding a bulleted or numbered list, use the bulleted or numbered list and indent icons only
    • Do not create lists with symbols and the space or tab keys; these are not read correctly by screen readers


  • Use meaningful hyperlinks that describe what the link does rather than adding long URL links
  • If wanting to show the link, create a shortened link at or

Font & Reading Order

  • Use sufficient font size and avoid the use of multiple fonts:
    • Approx. 36 point titles and approx. 18 point or larger font for text
  • Ensure that slide has a sensible reading order:
    • Reading order can be tested in both PowerPoint and G Slides by clicking on the title slide and using the tab key to move object to object. The order in which items are highlighted is the slide reading order
      • You can also check the reading order in PowerPoint from the Home tab > Select > Selection Pane. The Selection Pane also allows users to turn off the visibility of items while remaining in the reading order
    • Recommendation for fixing an illogical reading order - create a new slide and then copy and paste in items from inaccessible slide onto the new slide in the order you want them to be read starting with the title

Color & Contrast

  • Ensure slide backgrounds and font include sufficient contrast
  • Color should not be the only way you convey meaning
  • Avoid flashing content

Accessibility Testing Tools

Accessibility testers don’t find all of the errors; however, they do offer a good place to start. Website testing by an individual with disabilities and/or formal consulting company is preferred. AEM Center’s list of consulting companies.


  • *Download the Grackle add-on for an accessibility audit in G Slides, Sheets, and/or Docs

Office 365

  • An accessibility checker (“Check Accessibility” button) is built into Office 365 products on the Review tab 

Chrome Extensions


3 Things to Remember

  • Remember to run all of your pages through the checkers
  • Checkers won’t catch everything
  • Check pages when adding new content

Accessibility Statement/Policy

Shares the district’s or co-op’s commitment to accessibility 
  • The Department of Justice has consistently required compliance with WCAG 2.0
  • Good faith effort matters
  • Include steps have you taken & acknowledge the desire to correct errors
  • Can include list of assistive technologies or built-in features to help access content
  • Include grievance procedure with contact information
  • Examples
  • Campus Suite Policy Template helps create an internal district or co-op policy

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Each specialist serves the entire state of Indiana. Feel free to reach out to individual specialists with your inquiries based upon their speciality areas or email us for assistance getting started.  

NameSpecialty AreasPhone
Jessica Conrad Early Intervention, AAC, Communication Disorders, AEM Technical Specs/Formats/Conversion, Training Videos/Tutorials317-694-5317
Jena Fahlbush Intensive Interventions: Autism, Elementary Academics, Low Incidence, Microsoft/PC & Web Accessibility317-789-1691
Bev Sharritt Blind/Low Vision, Issues Concerning AEM and AT in Indiana IEPs317-518-5972
Kelli Suding Autism/Asperger's, AEM & AT: Secondary Age, Chrome Accessibility & Integration, SLD: Primary Age812-376-4557
Katie Taylor Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Primary Transition
Lisa Benfield AEM & AT Integration: Primary Age, Emotional Disabilities, Apple Accessibility & Integration(317) 572-5570‬

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Open Position: PATINS Specialist with a primary focus on Accessible Content Authoring (OEM), Google/Chrome Accessibility & Integration, SLD & Transition: Secondary Age

For more a full list of requirements, knowledge, skills, and abilities preferred and/or to submit an application, visit the Applitrack link.

Amongst other duties as assigned by the Director, responsibilities primarily include: Providing technical assistance, training, professional development, classroom observations/training/consultation, disseminating information and connecting regional administrators, teachers, service providers and parents with needed assistive technology, AEM, and UDL knowledge, tools, and resources as well as supporting all PATINS statewide initiatives.

Salary & Benefits: 
Exempt, salary employee
Partial Teleworking option
Starting at $45,000 annually, with flexibility commensurate with education, training, unique skills, and experience.
200 Contracted Days
Eligible for a standard benefits package, including insurance, PERF/TRF

Position Begins:
This position is scheduled to begin July 1, 2020, but may start earlier if possible, and may be filled at any time.

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PATINS Pages eNewsletter

Our monthly eNewsletter is called PATINS Pages. It features Starfish Award winners, success stories, new Lending Library items, training dates and registration links, as well as other project happenings.  

Check out past eNewsletter Stories!


Below are links to our most recent eNewsletters. Previous years' eNewsletters are available upon request by emailing Jen Conti.

PATINS eNewsletter

1May 2020May 2020 New! (Details)6 times
2April 2020April 2020 (Details)151 times
3March 2020March 2020 (Details)271 times
4February 2020February 2020 (Details)324 times
5January 2020January 2020 (Details)385 times
6December 2019December 2019 (Details)500 times
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11July 2019July 2019 (Details)848 times

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