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Center of Online Learning

Course Accessibility

Guidelines for Building Accessible Courses

  1. Documents
    1. HTML (ideal option) - follow the WCAG 2.0 guidelines
    2. Word - follow the MS Office accessibility guide
    3. PDF - follow the Adobe accessibility guide
  2. Media
    1. PowerPoint - add alternative text to graphics and images
    2. Narrated PowerPoints and video
      1. Provide a transcript of audio.
      2. Add transcript or notes to each slide.
      3. Add captions.
  3. Accessibility Checkers
    1. Microsoft's Accessibility Checker
    2. WAVE
    3. Adobe's Accessibility Checker
  4. Captioning 
    1. Camtasia (CSU has a site license - submit an eQuest to UITS)
    2. Center of Online Learning Captioning Services
    3. Center for Accommodation and Access

Accessibility FAQS

Q: Why is the accessibility of online course materials important?

A: The answer comes in three parts:

  1. It's the law: The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Amendment in 1998 specifically says that we must provide equal access to all students including electronic materials. There is also language in the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act regarding ensuring educational resources are accessible. WCET provides a summarized version of what each law covers.
  2. It helps all students: We have many different types of students with different learning styles. Making a course accessible often means providing alternative methods of accessing material, which can benefit all your students who have multiple ways to be exposed to the instructional materials.
  3. It's the right thing to do: As educators it is our goal to provide the best educational experience for all of our students to help them be successful.

Q: Does my course have to meet the accessibility requirements if I don't have a disabled student in my course?

A: Yes. The law states that courses must be accessible from the point of creation. Making a course accessible for an accommodation can require a significant amount of time. This can cause delay for the student in getting the materials they need to be successful in the course and will often mean they will be behind all other students in the course.

Q: What if I'm using a 3rd party tool (e.g., publisher pack)?

A: Any instructional materials used for the course must be accessible. If the vendor who is providing the materials is not willing to make it accessible, it's best to try and find an alternative.

Q: I am only using CougarVIEW as a supplement to my face-to-face course; do the materials I post online have to be accessible?

A: Yes. All electronic materials and media must be made accessible or alternatives must be provided.

Additional Resources

USG Accessibility site

Introduction to Web Accessibility

WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) Accessibility Issues

National Center on Universal Design for Learning

U.S. General Services Administration Tutorials, Guidance, and Checklists

Section 508 Checklist

Section 508 Summary Requirements

Higher Ed Accessibility Lawsuits, Complaints, and Settlements