So how do you ensure that online courses are accessible? With help of course! There are many institutions that have been discovering and sharing best practices for how to design online courses to be accessible from the ground up.
View this great presentation by Colleen Fleming shares some ways in which you can ensure accessibility in your online courses. Be sure to also read the accompanying notes.
There are also many checklists and guides that colleges and universities use to guide faculty when designing and developing online courses. Review the following checklists and note similarities and any differences.
- Accessibility Checklist Example 1
- Accessibility Checklist Example 2
- Accessibility Checklist Example 3
Web accessibility is another concern in online courses. Because the materials and interactions are online, there are standards across websites that are necessary to meet in online education as well.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is a community of developers worldwide that develops open source standards for web development. The standards they publish for accessibility are widely used when evaluating the accessibility of websites.
Accommodations in Online Environments
It is important to note that accommodations can be used if internet media cannot be made accessible proactively (Patrick, 1996; U.S. Department of Education, 2011). Where accessible technology is not available, colleges and universities can still comply by providing “accommodations or modifications that permit them to receive all the educational benefits provided by the technology in an equally effective and equally integrated manner” (U.S. Department of Education, 2011, p. 7). Note that the accommodation or modification can be provided “where accessible technology is not available” – it does not refer to cases wherein accessible technology is available but is simply not utilized.
Throughout the field there are some common accommodations that are used in online courses.
Read this 2 page document from Sam Houston State University that explains what common accommodations are within the field.
JAWS is a type of screenreader; screenreaders are a common accommodation used for learners with sight challenges. Wonder what experiencing a website or an online course is like for someone who uses a screenreader?
View this video example that shows what it’s like to navigate the internet through the use of JAWS.
That concludes our module on accessibility!