An important consideration regarding accessibility to your online course, is whether the different features, functions, and resources are accessible by students with disabilities. You may have students with disabilities related to vision, hearing, motor, or cognitive impairments. Utilizing important tools such as closed captioning and ALT tags as well as other strategies can help you to create an accessible course. Creating an accessible course is not only an ethical obligation, but also a legal obligation.
- [Voiceover] Another important consideration regarding accessibility within your online course is whether the different features, functions and resources are accessible by students with disabilities. You may have students with disabilities related to vision, hearing, motor or cognitive impairments. Examples of things you must consider include, closed captions on videos for students with hearing impairments. For example, here's a YouTube video that I want to share with students from Bosman Academy. And this one, I'm confident I can use because it does have closed captions.
So, here I can click it and now when I play this a student can follow along with the closed captions. - From day one and so if you ever take your finger and put it up next to a baby's hand, the baby will grab on to that. - Okay, so they could follow along. Another one is if you have a student with a vision impairment it's important to have alt tags and a site that's set up with appropriate headers, image descriptions and links so that they can be read by a screen reader. For example, in a Mac computer, there's a built in program called Voiceover and I can access this by hitting Command and F5.
- Welcome to Voiceover. Voiceover speaks to... - So now that I have Voiceover on, as I press tab, it will help me to navigate the website and let me know what different functions are. So I'll start to press tab - Options button, all materials button, visited link, unit one, animal intelligence discussion click to toggle options, link who is in our class - And now I'm going to turn this off. - Voiceover off. - So as you can see it will help a student with a vision impairment be able to navigate the website.
But in order for a screen reader to work the website must be set up correctly. Also consider other situations such as color blindness. Make sure that you do not use unique colored fonts when creating course resources. Use easy-to-read fonts with a lot of contrast. Also in schoology we have the ability to create folders. Now, an instructor might say something, this week we're going to complete everything in the red folder and next week everything in the blue folder. But be aware that some students may have color blindness and if so, we can't take for granted that they'll be able to determine the color of the folders.
It's things like this that we must take into consideration. Now it's not only an ethical obligation to ensure that everyone has access to the course, but it's often a legal obligation. Make sure that your learning management system or online platform is compliant with accessibility laws. Most will be. Search for the name of your learning management system or online platform along with the word "accessibility" and you'll likely find documentation and resources in order to learn more. Let's look at a couple examples.
Here for Canvas, I can see Accessibility Within Canvas and they have a document telling me about the different features and how it's compliant with Section 508 guidelines. Can learn more about some of those features. This is a document inside of Moodle that will show me the different accessibility features and how it's compliant. And here's one from Blackboard showing me the different features they have for accessibility. Now, if you're not using an online platform, and you're developing your own resources including, say, a website, make sure that you know what you're doing with regards to creating an accessible learning platform.
Staff author Oliver Schinkten draws the connections between high-quality instruction and online education. He provides a framework for creating a digital classroom—with or without a learning management system—and guidance to get students interacting with the course material, the instructor, and each other. Collaboration is the key to making the learning experience more dynamic. Oliver also shows how to incorporate digital resources and the latest ed tech into your classroom, and make sure the lessons are accessible to students of all ability levels.
- What is online education?
- Why does online education succeed?
- Understanding learning management systems
- Incorporating technology in the classroom
- Setting guidelines and expectations about online courses
- Writing learning outcomes and learning objectives
- Sharing and curating files and resources
- Tracking student progress
- Engaging students
- Fostering communication
- Providing feedback
- Making learning accessible to students with disabilities