Making Your Online Course Content Accessible

Plan Your Course | Build Your Course | Engage Students | Assess Students | Ensure Accessibility

There are many ways to create a more accessible, equitable and inclusive learning community in the online environment. Small changes to your course materials and structure can address barriers for all your students, as well as the ones who may require individual accommodations. To help all your students learn course content, it is important to make all of your course materials accessible.

Key Concepts:

Make your documents and slide decks accessible
Give consideration to the formatting and structure of your Word documents before converting them to PDF. This will help all your students navigate the information contained in these materials.

Try this:

  • Use of proper layout and organization of content supports students who use assistive technology (e.g., add proper headings, lists, columns).
  • Help students identify relevant linked content (e.g., describe the destination in link text rather than using “click here”).
  • Create alternative text for all images, graphics and complex tables/charts.
  • Choose styles and templates with high contrast and simple fonts.

How to:

Make your videos and screencast lectures accessible
When creating video content for posting in a course shell for online/remote instruction please provide captions or transcripts as your time and skills allow in order to improve usability and access of digital content for all learners. Please note that Accessibility Services will assist in the provision of alternative formats, including captioned video, for students registered with their office requiring this accommodation.

Try this:

  • Provide captions of video recordings.
  • Transcripts are also helpful as an alternative.
  • Describe complex visual content over the audio track.

How to:

Make your Quercus course content accessible
There are many features and strategies that can enhance the accessibility of the content in Quercus.

Try this:

  • Add alternative text (i.e., tags) when embedding external images.
  • Include text headers and use indention within modules to help guide student navigation.
  • Use a meaningful naming convention in modules and items within modules (e.g., name the module “Chapter 1: Introduction to Sociology,” not just “Chapter 1”).
  • Ensure materials posted to Quercus are accessible (see previous Key Concepts)

How to:

Make your online webinars in BB Collaborate accessible
Blackboard Collaborate is a useful tool for delivering real-time online teaching. Synchronous online sessions offer greater flexibility to bring students together by removing the barriers of distance or circumstance and enables them to engage in an interactive online learning environment. However, this learning environment may still present barriers or challenges for some students. To minimize these barriers, it is important to include accessible and inclusive practices in your session.

Try this:

  • Ahead of the session, invite participants to make you aware of any requirements that will help them participate, where possible
  • Keep the design of your session simple and provide easy ways for your students to interact

How to:

Make your videos and screencast lectures accessible
When creating video content for posting in a course shell for online/remote instruction please provide captions or transcripts as your time and skills allow in order to improve usability and access of digital content for all learners. Please note that Accessibility Services will assist in the provision of alternative formats, including captioned video, for students registered with their office requiring this accommodation.

Create video content with accessibility in mind (pre-recording)

Try this:

  • Create a full script for what you will say during your video. This is useful for your preparedness to stay focused on talking points with the added benefit that you can share the script with learners along with the video content.
  • Include in your script and communication in advance that fosters an inclusive environment where students feel comfortable bringing concerns to you. Reassure your students that participation in the session is welcome and indicate how you would for them to participate (e.g. via comments function)
  • Describe complex visual content while creating the audio track. This is helpful for when complex items (charts, graphs) need to be elaborated on for transcription services.

How to:

Use automated captioning services and self-correct (during or post recording)

Try this:

  • Upload video content you have already created to YouTube and use the automated captions provided (edit as needed).
  • Use PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 to transcribe your words as you present and display them on-screen as captions in the same language you are speaking.
  • Generate captions using automated speech-to-text software.

How to:

Outsource captioning support (during or post recording)

Try this:

  • Record a live webinar in Bb Collaborate and ask for volunteers and crowdsource captioning of your content. These captions are captured when the webinar is recorded.
  • Use a third-party service to create transcripts and/or captions of audio and video content you have already created.

How to:

Glossary

Script: A script is the creation of a document with the words you are going to say for your audio/video recording. If you are creating a script to share for accessibility purposes it is best to speak verbatim the words you have written.
Transcript: A transcript is the result of when speech or audio is converted into a written, plain text document. Transcripts are the output of transcription, and because they are plain text there is no time information attached to it.
Caption: A caption is the result of dividing transcript text into chucks, known as “caption frames,” and time-coding each frame to synchronize with the audio of a video. The output of captioning are captions which are typically located at the bottom of a video screen. Captions allow viewers to follow along with the audio and video or captions interchangeably.

References:
Transcription vs. Captioning – What’s the Difference? October 10, 2018 By Jaclyn Leduc
Accessed June 09, 2020 https://www.3playmedia.com/2018/10/10/transcription-vs-captioning/#:~:text=Transcription%20vs.,each%20have%20different%20use%20cases.

 

Developed collaboratively by the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation and Online Learning Strategies – Information Technology Services in consultation with the University of Toronto’s AODA officer (June 09, 2020).