The power of the web is in its universality.
Access by everyone, regardless of disability is an essential aspect.
Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and Inventor of the World Wide Web
The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, culture, location, or physical or mental ability. When the Web meets this goal, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability.
Thus, the impact of disability is radically changed on the Web because the Web removes barriers to communication and interaction that many people face in the physical world. However, when websites, web technologies, or web tools are badly designed, they can create barriers that exclude people from using the Web. (W3C)
Designing an Accessible Course
It is much easier to build your course with web accessibility in mind at the start of your workflow, rather than going back to retrofit problem areas later. Think of the user approaching your class, what “keys” will you build into the course for better navigation? By incorporating these simple steps , you’ll be creating a course with universal design in mind, no matter who enters your classroom on the first day.
The Web Content Accessibility guidelines (WCAG 2.0) standards is a stable, referenceable technical standard. It has 12 guidelines that are organized under four principles.
By adapting these habits, one’s workflow will not be dependent solely upon technology when making a course accessible, which therefore becomes easier to maintain over the duration of teaching a course.
WCAG 2.0 compliance is organized around the following four principles, which lay the foundation necessary for anyone to access and use Web content. Anyone who wants to use the Web must have content that is:
- Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
- This means that users must be able to perceive the information being presented (it can’t be invisible to all of their senses)
- Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable.
- This means that users must be able to operate the interface (the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform)
- Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
- This means that users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface (the content or operation cannot be beyond their understanding)
- Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
- This means that users must be able to access the content as technologies advance (as technologies and user agents evolve, the content should remain accessible)
If any of these are not true, users with disabilities will not be able to use the Web. These guidelines should be followed during the development of a new course. For existing courses, these guidelines should begin to take shape in the course at the point of redesign. In the case of a student with a disability enrolling in an online course, these guidelines become effective immediately and must be followed accordingly (2011 Chancellor’s Office Distance Education Accessibility guidelines).
Making these adjustments in your course will have a greater impact for long-term student accessibility.
HOW DO I START??
Cheat sheets made available by (NCADE)
Microsoft Word 2011 (Mac)
Added May 2013: This handout was created for Mac users and provides information for creating accessible documents in Microsoft Word 2011.
Microsoft Powerpoint 2011 (Mac)
Added May 2013: This handout was created for Mac users and provides information for creating accessible presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint 2011.
Microsoft Word 2007/2010 (Windows)
Added June 2012: Microsoft Word is currently the most common word processor on the market. Word files can also be the starting point for other files, such as PDF and HTML. Having the correct tools to create accessible Microsoft Word documents is imperative to improving your institution’s accessible content.
Microsoft PowerPoint 2007/2010 (Windows)
Added June 2012: PowerPoint is presentation software from Microsoft. Although typically used to display “slides” during face-to-face meetings and presentations, it is also used on the web and with distance education technologies.
PDF Conversion in Microsoft Word/PowerPoint 2007/2010 (Windows)
Added June 2012: After HTML, PDF (Portable Document Format) files are probably the most common files on the Web. PDF is usually used when a file needs to appear or print a certain way, regardless of the browser or technology. Microsoft Word and PowerPoint provide additional resources to properly create high-quality tagged PDF files.
Adobe Acrobat XI
Added August 2013: Adobe Acrobat XI features improved accessibility features from Adobe Acrobat X.
Adobe Acrobat X
Added June 2012: PDF files can be created in an assortment of programs, with varied results. Adobe Acrobat X is a valuable tool to insure your PDF documents are accessible to everyone, regardless of how they were created.
Adobe InDesign CS5.5
Added September 2012: Many designers use Adobe InDesign to develop print and web documents. This handout reviews the steps needed to create accessible PDF documents in InDesign CS5.5.
Fall 2012 – Faculty in-service workshop
Title: Student perspectives on designing accessible learning environments
Join DSPS students in a dialogue regarding self-disclosed learning profiles, related educational limitations, and a universal design approach for equal access.
Legal Landscape for providing access
SBCC Curriculum – Access and Compliance
How does the learning environment present barriers and facilitators?
Flyer – DSPS faculty (instructors please refer students)
Instructional design considerations matrix
Experiences of Students with Disabilities
“From Where I Sit” – students share their experiences in the college classroom.
Overview – Diversity of web users
@One course – Creating accessible online classes
(repeated minimum three times a year)
Introduction To The Screen Reader – Video (7:04)
Distance Learning Fact Sheets for Accessible Education
Tips, solutions, and summary of issues involved in making accessible distance education.
The Faculty Room - Univ. of Washington
Universal Design For Learning (Merlot)
Universal Design of Instruction (video)
Universal Design in Online Instruction
Powerpoint for Senate Committee Chairs 10/30/2009
Equal Access: Universal Design of Instruction - Univ. of Washington
Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool – WAVE
Application and Operating Systems Accessibility
Adobe - Accessibility training resources
Accessible web video – Flash video player w/ accessibility plug-ins
IN THE NEWS
Justice Dept. ruling: E-book readers and accessibility (1/13/2010)
FAQ’s – OCR guidance on legal obligations and use of technology in higher education.
Web Accessibility – No longer an afterthought (12/15/09)
Google Engineers – Tech Close-Up on Access to Google (11/20/09
YouTube – Automatic captions (11/19/2009)
YouTube videos – as more instructors make use of videos on YouTube, be aware the videos you incorporate into class activities should be closed-captioned. Link to a WEBINAR that describes the process for captioning videos that are housed at YouTube.
Resources From Other Campuses
Accessibility – University of Minnesota