Making Your Online Course Content Accessible
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.
For additional guidance on how to use video captions and audio transcripts, please see these detailed instructions on the Teaching Assistants’ Training Program website. For departments interested in Human Generated Captioning & Transcription Services, please visit the ACT site.
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.
- 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.
- Review recommendations for audio and video recording of lectures
- Use the Accessible Word Document Checklist to confirm accessible formatting for your existing and new documents.
- Explore the Creating Accessible PDF files to create content with tags that are hidden accessible elements which offer information for screen readers.
- Assess the accessibility of your documents using the Microsoft Accessibility Checker.
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 live, real-time captioning of video, for students registered with their office requiring this accommodation.
- Provide captions of video recordings.
- Transcripts are also helpful as an alternative.
- Describe complex visual content over the audio track.
- Use MS Stream to auto-generate captions and edit as needed.
- Use YouTube to auto-generate captions and edit them as needed.
- Use most recent version of PowerPoint for Windows to create captioned voice over presentations.
- Generate transcriptions using speech-to-text software (e.g., Otter.ai)
- Incorporate these tips on handling audio descriptions into your screencast lectures and create high quality audio.
- Familiarize yourself with the processes of your campus’ accessibility services for students with disabilities. These services will assist in the provision of alternative formats, including live, real-time captioning of video, for students registered with their offices.
- For guidance on how to use video captions and audio transcripts, please see these detailed instructions on the Teaching Assistants’ Training Program website.
Make your Quercus course content accessible
There are many features and strategies that can enhance the accessibility of the content in Quercus.
- 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)
- Review the General Accessibility Design Guidelines from Canvas (Quercus).
- Explore the Accessibility Checker in the Rich Content Editor.
- Accessibility and Accommodation Options for Quercus Quizzes (video 13:45)
- Examine detailed Accessibility Guidelines for Online Learning to review tips and strategies for course design.
- Review Ensuring Accessibility checklist on the CTSI Continuity Planning page.
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.
- 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
- Incorporate accessibility statement language from the CTSI website into your session invitations.
- Review this helpful BB Collaborate Accessibility Guide from the University of Reading.
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
- Use automated captioning services and self-correct
- Outsource captioning support
- 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.
- Add your script as notes to your PPT lecture slides and export speaker notes so you can print them in Word.
- Incorporate these tips on handling audio descriptions into your screencast lectures when describing complex content.
- 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.
- You can create a free account with YouTube. After uploading video content to YouTube automated captioning will do a fine job of creating a transcript. You may then edit the YouTube transcript and also export the transcript if needed.
- Review and use the tools made available from Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) Captioning Key – Tools for Creating Captions
- All faculty and staff have access to the most recent version of PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 to create captioned voice over presentations.
- A quick search online for automated speech-to-text software will return many results. Many of these will come with a cost associated with them (e.g. otter.ai).
- 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.
- Bb collaborate allows a captioner role for a user or users to type out captions live. Follow the full instructions for using live captions in Bb Collaborate.
- A quick search online for captioning services will return many results. Many of these will come with a cost associated with them (e.g. 3playmedia).
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.
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).