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.
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 captioned 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 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 captioned video, for students registered with their offices
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.
Developed collaboratively by the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation and Online Learning Strategies – Information Technology Services at the University of Toronto (April 14, 2020).