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
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 principles outline the theory behind why it’s good practice to make a site (or course) accessible. They can be read in more detail via the WebAIM Constructing a POUR website. You may also access the full reference list of principles regarding how to meet WCAG 2.0 AA standards.
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 the 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.
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.
How does the learning environment present barriers and facilitators?
Flyer – DSPS faculty (instructors please refer students)
Instructional design considerations matrix
In this revised edition, two key new areas were added: a Conceptual Framework, and a FAQ section directly addressing real world, current issues that many of you are now facing. Also updated were the Glossary and the new Resources list. The other existing sections of the 1999 guidelines that remain in this version were reviewed thoroughly and updated, wherever necessary. Laurie Vasquez (Task Force member).
Experiences of Students with Disabilities
“From Where I Sit” – students share their experiences in the college classroom.
Introduction To The Screen Reader – For Visually Impaired
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