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Accessible Online Courses

Accessibility Resources for Teaching Online

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1

Making Accessibility a Priority

Consider you are a student with hearing impairments attempting to watch several lecture videos in an online class with no closed captioning. Imagine having this impairment in the classroom where videos are played with no closed captioning. Students with disabilities can face struggles both in the classroom and in the online environment. Accessibility is a priority in all course modalities at VGCC.

Accessibility is not just a best practice; it is the law (see ). Many reputable institutions have faced lawsuits due to negligence towards the needs of students with disabilities attempting to access online materials. Sections 508 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require federal and federally funded programs to accommodate all individuals with disabilities. An amendment to Section 508 was passed in 1998 due to the increase in growth and popularity of the Internet requiring institutions to provide equal access to electronic and information technology.

At VGCC, all instructors are committed to creating and maintaining accessible courses. Instructors can consult with the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Accessibility Committee to assist with course design to ensure all VGCC courses meet the requirements of the law.

Understanding Disabilities

Disabilities can affect people in a myriad of ways, some of which may not even be visible, but that does not make them any less valid or real. Here are some examples as they relate to a person’s visual, hearing, mobility, and/or cognitive abilities:

  • Visual – blindness, low vision, color-blindness
  • Hearing– Deafness and hard-of-hearing
  • Mobility – inability to use a mouse, slow-response time, limited fine motor control
  • Cognitive – Learning disabilities, distractability, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information

Identify and Close Accessibility Gaps

Considering all of the types of disabilities, instructors should work on identifying and closing accessibility gaps in their courses. Reviewing documents provided to students is a place to start to find solutions to accessibility issues and opportunities for improvement.

When reviewing your course, the questions below can be used to review course material. Instructors are also encouraged to use the accessibility checkers in Moodle and other tools, though no one thing should be relied on by itself to identify all accessibility issues in the course materials.

Questions to Keep In Mind

Have you included transcripts with all audio content?

Most tools used to create audio will include a function that will automatically create a transcript for your recording. Be sure to check the tool for this feature before making your recording.

Do all of your videos contain closed captioning and/or transcripts?

Faculty have access to YuJa in each of their Moodle courses to create lecture videos. Use the instructions provided by YuJa for adding closed captioning to videos. If videos are created using other platforms, upload the video in a mp4 format to YuJa and then request the video captions. Automatic captioning should always be edited for accuracy.

Do your images all contain alt-text with appropriate text descriptions?

In Moodle you can add an image using the “Text and Media Area” resource (formerly “label”). Select “insert” from the editing tool and select your image to link or upload. The menu option will provide a space to size and describe the image.

Can students with disabilities navigate all PowerPoints?

To learn more about creating accessible PowerPoints, visit Microsoft’s “Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities” support site to ensure accessibility with instructor-created and publisher’s PowerPoint presentations. You can also visit the Presentation section of the website for information about accessible presentations.

Do all pages and documents in my online course contain headings?

Headings are important for providing an outline of a document with large amounts of text, as well as making it easier to navigate the document, especially for students with disabilities. Visit the Web Accessibility Initiative’s tutorial on headings for more information. See this page from Microsoft on creating accessible headings in MS Word .

Is the text within my Moodle pages and documents easily readable to people with low vision?

When designing your documents, in addition to using headings, also consider how images, links, and lists are accessible. For example:

  • Images need to be marked as decorative or include descriptive text.
  • Links should be meaningful and not long website links and phrases like “click here” or “learn more” should be avoided
  • Lists should be made with the editor’s tools to include numbers for ordered lists and bullets for unordered lists. Use a numbering system for long, multi-level lists

The Microsoft Word portion of this accessibility training from Microsoft goes over how to format headings, images, links, and lists (Microsoft Training) .

B.S., M.A., M.B.A., Ed.S.
Director, Center for Teaching and Learning
MAIN CAMPUS - Henderson
(252) 738-3627