To engage all students in your course content, it's important to adhere to the laws related to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) so that all students can access your course content.
This Knowledge Base includes a separate section on alternative or ALT text for images. Below you can find additional information on making your course content accessible.
A Learning Technologies blog post provides resources for you to be sure that you are complying with ADA requirements.
Word documents - When adding a Word document to Blackboard, use Word's built in document structure. This includes use of styles and formatting. The Office Support Make your Word documents accessible site provides instructions for making your Word documents accessible. Word also offers an Accessibility Checker to help you to find and resolve issues with inaccessible items in your document.
PDF documents - When converting a Word document to a PDF, the Word document must be accessible prior to converting the document. Acrobat Pro includes an Accessibility Checker to help you find and resolve issues with inaccessible items in your PDF document. The County of Sonoma, California website has a great resource for Making a PDF File Accessible which includes information on making a scanned file accessible. Remember that it's best practice when using outside sources such as journal articles, to link to the source, rather than saving the article as a PDF in Blackboard. This practice can help to both avoid copyright violations, and may help to prevent issues with accessibility.
PowerPoint documents - When making sure that PowerPoints are accessible, it's important to determine that students using screen readers can access the content on slides, and the slides themselves, in the correct order. In addition, images, tables, charts, and graphs all need to include descriptive alternative text. Office Support provides a Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible site which can help you modify your PowerPoint documents to ensure they are accessible.
Tables - While tables can be a useful tool for displaying information, they must be properly formatted for use with a screenreader. When working with tables in Word (such as creating a course schedule) refer to the Create accessible tables in Word reference page for support.
Hyperlinks - When using hyperlinks in your course, don't write out the entire URL in the text editor for students to follow. For students reading a screen reader, the reader will read each and every letter and slash, including http, etc. This can add considerable time when reading a page. As an alternative, describe where the link will send students when they click on it, and use Insert/Edit Link in the content editor to create the link, pasting in the URL when asked. Additionally, do not make the words "click here" a link as it isn't clear where this link will take your students.
Use of Color - While it can be helpful to use color to emphasize select content in your course, make sure it isn't the only way this emphasis is communicated. Students who are colorblind, use a screen reader, or have low vision will be unable to see the emphasis. Additionally, be sure to use sufficient color contrast between the text and background so that it is sufficiently visible to students. The Tips for Getting Started Designing for Web Accessibility webpage from Web Accessibility Initiative provides information regarding use of color online.
Video and other Multimedia - Whether you have created video for use in your course, or link to videos from outside sources (such as YouTube), this content needs to be accessible to all of your students. Videos from any source must contain closed captions and, ideally, transcripts as well. At COD we encourage the use of YuJa to manage and share videos with your students. You'll start with request auto captions for your videos, and then edit these captions as the auto-captioning will not be completely accurate. You'll finally want to download a transcript of your text to provide to your students from the Accessibility option with your YuJa video.
If you use a video in your course that is not captioned, and it is not your video, contact the Learning Technologies Office at (630) 942-2490, or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. For other multimedia used in your course, if captions or transcripts cannot be added, it is important to still provide access to the information in a different accessible way in your course.
While these may seem like a lot of areas to me mindful of, making a course accessible for all of your students really benefits each of them, not just those students with disabilities. It's much easier to add content while keeping accessibility in mind, or update individual items incrementally, than to have to go back and update your entire course at a later date.
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