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Ioana -Uncovering the depths of accessibility testing in the Digital Learning Internship

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Programme of Study and Year: Astrophysics (MPhys), going into 3rd year

Hobbies: Reading, listening to music, taking walks, watching TV series

Intern Position: Digital Learning Intern within Learning, Teaching and Web (LTW)

Fun fact about your internship: I have become knowledgeable in Accessibility testing, even though this was not the plan initially

Describe your role in 4 words:  Challenging, rewarding, technical, awesome

The internship experience in a nutshell

I have found out about these internships from the Unitemps website. I kept checking it in March, as I knew that was the time when the summer roles would be advertised. I have also received notifications over e-mail regarding the roles and how to apply. My role requires me to become familiar with a variety of learning technology applications, and do the accessibility testing based on a specific script and using assistive software. The most enjoyable part is that I get to see, learn, experience and test a lot of the University’s platforms, applications and integrations, and I have the chance to see these from a developer point of view. Additionally, it is just enjoyable to collaborate with my team members and socialise with other interns when we are in the office. Speaking of socialising, the Unitemps social events for interns are the best – the food is great and I always get to meet and talk to lots of interesting people with various experiences.

Highlights of Digital Learning – Creating documentation and conducting accessibility testing

I find the 9-5 life surprisingly relaxing, especially when I work from home. Office days can be a bit more tiring, but they are the most fun as almost everyone is there on certain days. My team is welcoming and friendly, even in busy and stressful times – for which I admire them greatly. I really enjoy that communication is very efficient within the team, both when we are in the office and when we are working remotely.

My role so far has helped me overcome certain ‘fears’, for example listening to my own voice. I had to create some videos with instructions on how to use one of the applications within the University. I already had the script, I just had to record my screen while navigating the application. Even though it seems like a simple task, the idea of recording my own voice felt strange. After talking to my manager and some of the members of my team about this, I found that my feeling was quite common – no-one likes to record and listen to their own voice! Therefore I was a bit more confident that nothing could go wrong and I recorded the videos. Listening to my own voice while doing the captioning was not that bad – especially since I was focused on the quality of the sound and the content itself. The feedback I received for the videos was good, which boosted my confidence for this type of task.

As my work requires me to do accessibility testing, I had the opportunity to discover how complex this field is, and how many regulations need to be taken into account for a webpage/application/platform to be considered accessible. As an example, I was aware of captioning being needed for videos, but I wasn’t aware of the exact ratios needed for colour contrasts within a page. In addition, I could see how certain types of assistive software interact with the University platforms and applications, and which issues are encountered. While I still have some training sessions to do, I have developed an awareness for accessibility and I feel that this subject should be promoted more.

The internship has been a great experience so far. I feel lucky that I am a part of a lovely team (DLAM TEL – Digital Learning Applications and Media, Tech Enhanced Learning) where everyone is friendly and willing to help. I have a lot to learn from all of the team members, and also the other interns. The working environment is very good and inspiring, and it allows me to develop valuable skills that will certainly be beneficial in future assignments.

Through this blog post, I would like to wish all the other interns the best of luck in their internships and projects, and to thank all the staff members for being welcoming and supportive in every matter. And last but not least, I encourage every student to apply for a summer internship within the Information Services Group – it’s definitely a fantastic experience!

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