Online Teaching

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Teach Online: Accessibility

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OSCQR 17-28OSCQR logo
OSCQR 34-37

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act require that all learners be able to fully participate in all of the services, programs, and activities of US education institutions. This includes any digital/online course materials, resources, content you may use in your instruction. While your learning management system (LMS) likely has built-in web accessibility features and functionality, and may have tools to help you check, or ensure the accessibility of your digital content within the LMS, it is important that you ensure and maintain the accessibility of any online content you use or create for your online instruction, regardless of where it is located.

Check with your campus-based help resources for policies, procedures, and guidelines for ensuring web accessibility compliance.

Tips to Improve the Accessibility of your Online Content

  1. Use UDL principles consider accessibility in your course design for the diversity of all learners in your course.

  2. Use headings tags to reflect the actual organization of the page for those using screen readers.

  3. Use high-contrast designs such as dark text on a light background, which is easiest to read, and software settings/options, to make online content easier to read for those with visual challenges.

  4. Use simple/descriptive alt-text for images to make online content accessible to people using screen readers.

  5.  Create, or provide a transcript for any audio or video content you may use in your course for those with auditory challenges.

  6. Create accessible PDFs to ensure that the online content is accessible via creen readers.

  7. Create accessible tables to ensure that the online content is accessible via creen readers.
  8. Use descriptive labels and links (not just “click here!”) for linked documents and resources, so that those using screen readers know what to expect when they click.

  9. Use accessibility checkers such as Bb Ally to help you identify areas in your digital content that needs to be addressed.

OSCQR provides a number of web accessibility standards that have been developed based on the recommendations of SUNY’s Office of General Counsel in their 2013 memo, “Accessibility Considerations in the wake of SUNY’s Online Initiatives.” The rubric has been reviewed by members of the FACT2 Accessibility Task Force, the SUNY Coordinator of Disability, Diversity, and Nontraditional Student Services, and addresses the legal considerations required to be compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, New York State Enterprise IT Policy NYS-P08-005, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

General Tips

  • Use live-caption features in LMS for synchronous meetings.
  • Create/use transcripts for audio/video media.
  • Make your content navigable by the keyboard.
  • Use bold /italic for emphasis, rather than just color.
  • Use sufficient color contrast.
  • No blinking or flashing content.
  • Make sure any materials you incorporate from other sources are accessible (videos/podcasts that already have transcripts and closed captioning).
  • Don’t use underline – it looks like a link.
  • Use an accessibility checker (such as Ally) throughout course content development. It is always easier to ensure accessibility as you go, rather than leaving it all for the end.
    • Start out with an accessibly designed templates for documents, or presentations, rather than using blank pages/slides.
    • Use Microsoft Word to create accessible documents and then convert to .pdf.
    • Adobe Acrobat Pro, Powerpoint, and Word have accessibility checkers.




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