Usability is a measure of how easy a system is to use. Accessibility means access to all, regardless of technological and physical means.
Readability – avoid using jargon and difficult to understand words or acronyms
Accessibility - In the context of the online learning environment Universal Design – an approach to creating courses and materials that are able to be used by all people without the need for customization, includes items we have all used before, like doors that open as you approach them
Speech for example: speaking in a live synchronous course or making a project in an audio medium only or presenting a project that requires speaking
12 - All people should see a number 12, including those with total color blindness – If someone said they can’t see something, or saw something else – they are fibbing:) 8 - Those with normal color vision see an 8. Those with red green color blindness see a 3. Those with total color blindness see nothing. 73 - Those with normal color vision see a 73. The majority of color blind people cannot see this number clearly. People with normal vision or total color blindness should not be able to see any number. Those with red green color blindness should see a 5. 26 - Those with normal color vision should see a 26. Red color blind people will see a 6, mild red color blind people will also faintly see a number 2. Green color blind people will see a 2, mild green color blind people may also faintly see a number 6.
Inconsistent or unclear course design and navigation. This may pose a challenge for all learners, but especially those who use a screen reader to navigate. Some common problems are labels inconsistently used throughout the course, such as interchanging the words, "modules" and "units.”
Unclear or non-descriptive content represents a challenge to all learners. Another example of non-descriptive content is the use of acronyms or jargon.
Videos and live audio must have captions and a transcript.
Do not rely on color alone to convey meaning The use of color can enhance comprehension, but do not use color alone to convey information. That information may not be available to a person who is colorblind and will be unavailable to screen reader users.
Structure: Headings, lists, and other structural elements provide meaning and structure to web pages. They can also facilitate keyboard navigation within the page.
Tables are used online for layout and to organize data. Tables that are used to organize tabular data should have appropriate table headers (the <th> element). Data cells should be associated with their appropriate headers, making it easier for screen reader users to navigate and understand the data table.
Every link should make sense if the link text is read by itself. Screen reader users may choose to read only the links on a web page. Certain phrases like "click here" and "more" must be avoided.
Ensure accessibility of non-HTML content, including PDF, Word, PowerPoint PDF documents should include a series of tags to make it more accessible. A tagged PDF file looks the same, but it is almost always more accessible to a person using a screen reader.
when documents are scanned, they are often saved as inaccessible images. Screen readers cannot identify the content in the image file.
Printed textbooks. Persons who are visually impaired may not be able to read the printed textbook.
Alternative text provides a textual alternative to non-text content in web pages. It is especially helpful for people who are blind and rely on a screen reader to have the content of the website read to them.
Make sure content is clearly written and easy to read There are many ways to make your content easier to understand. Write clearly, use clear fonts, and use headings and lists appropriately. Use real text rather than text within graphics.
Ensure users can complete and submit all forms Ensure that every form element (text field, checkbox, dropdown list, etc.) has a label and make sure that label is associated to the correct form element using the <label> element.
Flash content that requires the use of a mouse. With the prevalence of multimedia content, some course components developed in software such as Flash are designed with mouse over commands or fields that cannot be navigated with the tab key, which poses a challenge for persons with visual or motor impairments who do not rely on the use of a mouse.
Use a sans serif font, which is a typeface category that does not use serifs, or small lines at the front and end of characters
Use headers Alt text for images and tables Descriptive links Check for accessibility
Also, table headers
Use headers Alt text for images and tables Descriptive links Check for accessibility
Avoid image maps if possible because screen readers have a lot of problems with these types of files.
Many email applications are fully accessible to people with disabilities, so email is an accessible choice for delivering a syllabus or other course materials. If you're planning to use synchronous communication online, where people are talking live, you might need to make it optional; or you could offer an equivalent, alternative assignment for the student with a disability. Keep page layouts simple, clear, and consistent. This will help students with low vision or learning disabilities. Even if Blackboard or another LMS is accessible, an online course using it can still be inaccessible if the instructor fails to use accessible course materials.
With Accessibility in Mind
The Faculty Center
firstname.lastname@example.org | 212-346-1471
• What is Accessibility?
• Types of Disabilities
• Color Blindness
• Design with Accessibility in Mind
• Making Accessible Documents
• Designing an Accessible Blackboard
What is Accessibility?Definitions provided by W3C/WAI Research and Development Working Group (RDWG)
• Accessibility - the extent to which content in a course is available to all students,
meeting the needs of a diverse audience – help all students succeed
• Usability - ability of learners to easily navigate and interact with course components
• Readability - the ease with which a reader can understand a written text
• Accommodations - reactive approach of providing alternatives to students once a
disability has been identified through the disability office - help one student succeed
• Universal Design for Learning (UDL) - a set of principles for curriculum development
that gives all students equal opportunities to learn
Types of Disabilities
Videos/podcasts without correct transcripts or captions - voice needs captioning
Media players without volume controls
Text, images, and page layouts that cannot be resized
Long passages of text
Moving or blinking content
Insufficient contrast between colors
Websites that do not provide full keyboard support
Insufficient time limits to complete tasks
Assignments or tasks that only require voice activation/recognition
• Cognitive and Neurological
Complex navigation and page layouts that are difficult to understand and use
How to Design With Accessibility in Mind
Many faculty fear that creating an accessible course is going to be overwhelming. There are
many best practices that do not take extra time:
• Roman numerals are not accessible to screen readers
• Consistent navigation
• Ability to change font size
• Visual information that includes descriptions (alternative text, captions, text
• Avoid justifying margins because this creates inconsistent spacing between
• Color, Contrast and Document Structure
• Provide headers for data tables
• Descriptive hyperlinks (links like “click here” should be avoided)
• PDF, PPT, and Word accessible files
• Alt text, put the text in both the title and the description boxes
• Blue and/or underlined text signify links, do not use this if it’s not links
Video: difference between Accessibility and Accommodation
Select basic, simple, easily-readable fonts, sans-serif.
• Century Gothic
• Lucida Sans
Use a limited number of fonts.
Avoid small font sizes.
Limit the use of font variations such as bold, italics, and
ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
Don't rely only on the appearance of the font (color,
shape, font variation, placement, etc.) to convey
• Font Readability
• Color Contrast Checker
• From Pace, accessibility checklist
• How Five Web Design Principles
Boost Student Learning in an
Steps You Can Take to Make
Your Course Accessible
1. Develop a clear, consistent, and simple layout.
2. Inform students at the beginning of the course how it is structured, where to find materials.
3. Clearly indicate the hierarchy of materials in a page or document using heading styles.
4. Add closed captions to all videos, and provide transcript for sound clips and a text alternative to
charts and graphs.
5. Add alternative text to all images. Images used for decoration should have a "null" ALT tag
6. Provide descriptive links.
7. Use tables for data, not formatting.
8. Provide color contrast between the text and background and don’t rely on color alone to convey
9. Use white space to increase comprehension and reduce eye fatigue.
10. Proofread all your course materials to ensure you do not have spelling, punctuation, or