By Barry Dahl – October 26, 2016
Post #9 in Accessibility series. Improving the accessibility of D2L Content pages. #A11Y
Features built into the Brightspace platform can be used to enhance the accessibility of your online courses. In this post, we’ll look at three of those features.
Color Contrast Checker
There is a built-in color checker in the HTML editor used in the Brightspace platform. Select the text that you would like to check, and then click on the Text Font Color icon in the editor.
As you click on different font colors, the Contrast Ratio numbers will change to indicate the amount of contrast between the font color (foreground color) and the background color. In addition to calculating the contrast ratio numbers, the color checker will also indicate whether the color choices conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
There are three possible outcomes with regard as to whether the WCAG standards are met:
- Green check mark, indicating that AA WCAG standards are met with a minimum ratio of 4.5:1.
- Caution symbol, indicating that it is close to, but below the 4.5:1 minimum ratio.
- Red circle with white X, indicating poor contrast.
The graphic at the right indicates an acceptable contrast level of 15.4:1, which is achieved with black text on a light gray background. There are two additional graphics at the bottom of this post indicating the other two possible outcomes for meeting WCAG guidelines. Click any graphic to enlarge.
HTML tables were designed for tabular data, but they have been and still are occasionally used for structure and layout of web pages. These days CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) has replaced the need for table layouts, but you will still occasionally run across them or even need to use one now and again. Tables aren’t terrible in terms of accessibility as long as they maintain a proper reading order.1
Create Data Tables with Column Headers
Designating column and/or row headers in a table is essential to screen reader users understanding how information is laid out. Screen readers usually have a keyboard command that will inform the user what the column and/or row header is for the data cell their cursor is in, making it easier to navigate and understand the tabular data. Even still, tabular data can be daunting to a screen reader user. So it is best to keep tables small if possible. Consider breaking large tables into smaller ones. But always include column and/or row headers on all tables except layout tables.1
Karen Sorensen and the team at Portland Community College created this video to explain how to add table headers in the Brightspace platform.
Use Accessible Templates for the Content Pages You Create
D2L has developed and shared HTML template packages in an effort to make it easier for course instructors to create accessible, professional looking HTML content files. The templates use a cascading style sheet (CSS) to format the content in HTML files. The accessibility features are built into the CSS file, allowing the content developer to concentrate on adding text, images, and other course resources without concern for proper formatting.
You can download a treasure trove of free templates at the Brightspace Community. These templates are in the Public Domain, and can be used as you see fit. They come in a Zip file that needs to be:
- downloaded to your computer, then
- uploaded into the Manage Files section of the Brightspace Learning Environment, then
- unzipped into a files folder, and then
- enabled for use throughout the course in Content Settings
View the webinar archive
You can see a great demo of this CSS template process in the following Community Webinar:
Using HTML Templates for a Consistent Course Experience - by Jamie Buck & Robing Bloomfield, D2L Courseware Developers
The meat of the process starts at the 4:15 mark. You can learn more about why templates are a good idea, how they are built, and then a live demo of editing the Content Settings and then applying a template as you create a new Content file.
Here are a couple of images showing the same Instructor Info page using two of the many different template styles, with the Pixel Art Blue template on the left and the Elegance template on the right:
In the next post, we’ll consider some accessibility tips and tricks for Word documents, including specific ideas for those who use Word docs as content pages in Brightspace.
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 Portland Community College and Barry Dahl of D2L.
1 Written by Karen Sorensen for WAMOE module 4-1.
Below: Additional screenshots of D2L Color Checker
Accessibility Posts - October-November 2016
- 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