By Barry Dahl – October 3, 2016
First post in a month-long series around accessibility of online courses.
This is the first blog post in a series of posts intended to help you improve the accessibility of your online courses. In this context, the word accessibility relates to making your online courses better for students with various disabilities. To help set the stage for this series of posts, let’s start with a couple of videos.
Portland Community College: To Care and Comply
In their 11-minute video created in 2015, Portland Community College (PCC) employees talk about their web accessibility guidelines and how supporting students with disabilities is a shared responsibility across the college. Also included are tips and techniques that faculty and staff can use to improve their online course materials to make course components more accessible. It is embedded below, or you can open it separately.
A couple of things that jump out at me from that video include:
- The intro examples of navigating online courses with assistive technology
- The various students’ stories about their needs for accessible learning materials
- Mission of PCC, and there is no success without access (10:30)
You can learn more about the various accessibility resources provided by PCC at their website.
University of Washington DO-IT: IT Accessibility: What Campus Leaders Have to Say
A second video that I highly recommend comes from DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) at the University of Washington. DO-IT provides many excellent resources for educators and students. This video highlights the importance and strategies for making Information Technology accessible on a campus-wide basis.
Highlights for me in this audio-described video include:
- Tracy Mitrano clarifies that making an accommodation was a good starting point, but only the start of the conversation about dealing with accessibility (1:37)
- Pablo Molinda states that just like privacy and security, accessibility needs to be designed from the initial conception, not an afterthought. (2:32)
- Gerry Hanley shows that his state system requires all vendors provide equally effective access to the services provided by the vendor. (3:58)
The rest of this series will concentrate more on the question of how to improve the accessibility of online courses. I thought it was important to start with this post dealing more with the question of why improved web accessibility is important in online learning.
Much of the content in this series of posts comes from WAMOE, the Web Accessibility MOOC for Online Educators; co-created by Karen Sorensen of PCC and Barry Dahl of D2L.
The PCC video is shared with express written consent from PCC, and the University of Washington video is shared under the license of Creative Commons Attribution. The accessibility keyboard graphic is shared under Creative Commons Attribution by creator Poakpong.
Twelve Posts in this Series:
- Setting the Stage for Improving Accessibility of Online Courses
- What is a VPAT and Where Can You Find Them?
- What Value Can You Find in a VPAT?
- Alt Text for Web Page Images
- When Simple Alt Text is Insufficient
- Finding Captioned Videos for Your Online Courses
- Creating Captions for Your Online Course Videos
- Four Easy Wins to Make Your HTML Content Pages More Accessible
- Three More Ways to Improve Accessibility in your Brightspace Courses
- Creating Accessible Course Content in Microsoft Word
- Creating Accessible Course Content in Microsoft PowerPoint
- Six More Tips for Making Online Courses Accessible