Online Course Accessibility

Accessibility is the degree to which a person is able to perceive, understand, navigate, interact with, and contribute to an online course. An accessible online course provides equal access and equivalent opportunity for people with disabilities.

This course will help you understand the principles of accessibility in online courses based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), including the standards they address, how they are used to evaluate conformance with WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 , and how you can use them to make your own online courses more accessible.

Why Accessibility Matters in Online Teaching and Learning - Center for  Innovative Teaching and Learning

The Digital Accessibility Handbook is an accessible training resource designed to help course designers and authors create, revise, or assess fully accessible online courses, learning objects, and modules. The five-module guide encourages you to apply universal design for learning principles to your content and materials with the goal of making them more inclusive, usable, and engaging for all students.

This course will enable you to learn and appreciate the need for making information accessible over the Internet. You will be introduced to various technologies and programming tools that can be used to create an accessible design. You will also work with varying levels of accessibility based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) and the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

List of web accessibility online course

Accessibility is Key to Arkose Labs' Enforcement Challenges

Tip 1: Plan Your Online Teaching-Learning Strategy

Be consistent: Online course design should follow a consistent structure throughout the entirety of the course. The image below outlines clear steps for students. For each module there is a lecture, a video, slides, assignments (online discussion and a task) and a quiz.

Learning styles: Every student has a unique profile of abilities, strengths, learning styles, and previous experience. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework guides educational practice, flexibility in presenting information, and reducing barriers in instruction. To learn more about UDL about visit CELT’s Universal Design for Learning Overview website. Provide adequate time: How am I ensuring students have adequate time to complete activities and assessments? To determine if students have adequate time to complete activities and assessments consider using Rice University’s Course Workload Estimator website tool.

Build in course feedback: You can learn a great deal about how your students are learning in a course, and what adjustments both you and your students might make, by asking your students to give your course a mid-term evaluation. One way to do this is by using a PLUS/DELTA feedback tool. The beauty of this tool is that it asks students to focus on what is working to advance their learning in the course and what could be improved by the teacher and by the student. This tool is available through the CELT’s Mid-term Formative Evaluation: Using a PLUS/DELTA Assessment Technique website.

Tip 2: Constructive Course Alignment

Constructive alignment in teaching links the constructivist theory of learning (where students link new material to previous knowledge and experiences, and extrapolate to future understandings) with outcomes-based teaching. Implementing constructive alignment in course design results in explicitly linking teaching and learning activities, to classroom assessments and evaluation, to course learning objectives, and ultimately to course learning outcomes. How: Visit CELT’s Basic Course Design: Aligning Course Objectives with Class Assignments and Your Teaching Approach website.

Tip 3: Developing Assessments and Evaluation

Once learning objectives are established, the next step is to create assessment and evaluation tools that will allow you to determine if students have achieved a learning objective.

Using a combination of assessment (not graded) and evaluation (graded) approaches provides students a variety of opportunities to show their mastery of the course content. For a broad range of evaluation methods visit CELT’s Classroom Assessment Techniques website.

Tip 4: Use the Quality Matters (QM) Framework

Quality Matters is a learner-centered course framework with a faculty peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses. All of the 8 QM course components (listed below) work together to ensure that students achieve the desired learning outcomes. When aligned, each of these components is directly tied to and supports the course learning objectives.

  1. Course Overview Introductions
  2. Learning Objectives (Competencies)
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Instructional Materials
  5. Course Activities and Learner Interaction
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility and Usability

To become a part of the QM professional development cohort visit CELT’s Quality Matters Tracks for Faculty Development website. For more information about QM or to access the full rubric visit the Quality Matters website.

Tip 5: Use Consistent Page Titles and Headings

For users who rely on screen readers to interact with content, this step is crucial. Consistent and clear page titles help to orient visually impaired users who are unable to see the full layout of the site. For examples of this practice view the Section Headings/Structure – Do it Yourself Digital Access website.

Tip 6: Use Alt-Text, Captions, or Long Descriptions on All Images

Every image must have alt-text, which can be set in Canvas, visit the How do I embed images from the web in the Rich Content Editor? web guide. This alt-text should be a concise description of the information conveyed by the image. Visit the Alternate (alt) Text – Do It Yourself Digital Access website.

Tip 7: Account for Users with Visual Disabilities

Ensure color is not the sole means of conveying important information. The examples below show the differences between not accessible and accessible color-coding.

Use a color analyzer to see if the colors you are choosing for your website or PowerPoint will pass the contrast ratio.

Tip 8: Use Descriptive and Unique Hyperlinks

This is another strategy to help users who use screen readers. When providing a hyperlink, the link text should describe what is being linked to. Learn how through the Links that do the job web article from Inside Iowa State.

Tip 9: Create Accessible Media

PDF, MS Word and PowerPoint

PDF files, MS Word documents and PowerPoint are all popular tools used when presenting information to students. These files need to in an accessible format, or content must be provided to students in an alternative format. One-page accessibility resources, or “cheatsheets,” have been developed to assist in creating accessible content. View the Accessibility Cheatsheets website (National Center on Disability and Access to Education).

Audio/Video Transcripts and Captioning

Provide transcripts for audio clips and synchronous captioning for video clips. Captions also benefit non-native speakers or students experiencing audio glitches. How: Visit the Captioning, with an assist from YouTube on the Inside Iowa State website or Captioning, Transcripts and Audio Descriptions WebAIM website. Example: Create a syllabus overview using a combination of different media

  • Instead of using class time to read through the syllabus on the first day of class, consider creating a video that explains your syllabus. Your students can watch and re-watch the video as many times as they need. And you can be certain that everyone hears and reads the same message, even students who add the class later.

Tip 10: Include the Accessibility Statement in the Syllabus

Include the university’s syllabus statement on student with disability accommodations. Consider placing the information towards the start of your syllabus to emphasize the importance of the information. How: For the appropriate wording visit CELT’s Faculty Senate Recommendations for Syllabus Inclusion website.

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