Tips for making course materials more accessible

Quick tips

The links below provide some simple things you can do to increase the accessibility of your materials.

For documents

For video/audio

For presentations

Tools for checking accessibility compliance


Why are we worried about this?

Most importantly because it is only fair that all learners have access to the materials they need to be successful. Also, in March of 2017 the Section 508 standards of the Rehabilitation Act were refreshed. In particular the information and communication technology accessibility requirements were updated to require that they meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. The deadline for compliance with the new standards was January of 2018.

What is WCAG 2.0?

What does it mean to be WCAG 2.0 compliant? There are four components to WCAG 2.0 compliance.

  1. Perceivable –  Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
  2. Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable
  3. Understandable – Make text content readable and understandable
  4. Robust –  Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

These four principles are then expanded further to provide guidance for various types of materials.

If you want to do even more for students.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL is an educational approach based on the learning sciences with three primary principles—multiple means of representation of information, multiple means of student action and expression, and multiple means of student engagement. Most often you will see the aim of UDL represented by the following image.

The image has three panels. The first panel shows three people of different heights standing on equal height boxes trying to look over a wooden fence. Not all individuals can see over the fence. In the second panel the boxes are distributed in a such a way that everyone can see over the fence. In the last panel the boxes are removed and the fence is switched to chain-link so that everyone can see without having to use any assistance.
Image from the Food for Thought: Equality vs Equity vs Justice reddit thread

UDL wants the creator to design things in such a way that the broadest set of individuals can use the item without needing to do anything special. Explore what UDL principles would mean for course design.