Mysteries of Accessibility: Creating Accessible Course Content

Accessibility has always been a critical piece of course design; however, the transition to online and remote learning has many instructors grappling with making their course material accessible to a wider audience. Once a document is published online, such as to an LMS, it must meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Section 508 standards.

Individuals often feel that accessible content is difficult to create and must have a sterile appearance, but this is not the case. If accessibility is considered from inceptioninstead of being an afterthought, creating accessible content becomes part of the process. Course content may be adjusted after it is created to make it accessible, but it is much more time-efficient to ensure it is accessible during course production.

Using Color and Composing Alt Text
Slides and Materials

Often when faculty hear “accessible content,” the first thing that comes to mind is boring—no pictures or colors. Content may be colorful and exciting and still meet accessibility guidelines. Careful consideration of a color palette at the inception of course production allows for finished products that are visually inviting and accessible. Images are easily transitioned into an item that will delight your typically-abled students while ensuring the success of your students with learning differences.

Constructing and Using Tables
Slides and Materials

Are you using tables properly when considering accessibility? Did you know you should not use tables for layout purposes? Constructing accessible tables in Microsoft and Google products can be difficult; however, with the right features and tools, you can make tables that will help all of your students achieve the desired learning outcomes.

Composing with Microsoft Word and Google Docs
Slides and Materials

Most instructors create course content in a word processing program. Making a Microsoft Word or Google Doc accessible will help you create clear, concise course content. Items may be visually interesting and meet accessibility standards. Font and color choices, outlines and headers, and other formatting standards must be considered when drafting an accessible document. Finally, learning to use an accessibility checker becomes part of the proofreading process.

Designing Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides
Slides and Materials

If you are providing a slide deck to your students, it is important to make sure it meets accessibility standards. You must make sure you set a reading order for the elements on your slides. Many of the items that make a slide deck accessible also help your typically-abled students succeed in your course. Finally, learning to use an accessibility checker becomes part of the proofreading process.

Recording Audio and Video
Slides and Materials

More instructors are recording their lectures than ever before. Did you know there are things you can do in your recordings to help your students be successful? Do you know when you need a transcript vs a SRT (or what a SRT is)? Learn tips and tricks your recordings can include to help students. After all, most students rely on things that are required for accessibility standards even if they are typically-abled.

About the Presenters:

Kristin White is an Instructional Technologist with the Center for Learning and Teaching at Old Dominion University; she is the university’s lead ZOOM trainer. Kristin has been an integral part of ODU’s transition to remote teaching during COVID-19 and continues to develop and facilitate faculty support on topics including ZOOM, Blackboard, VoiceThread, Kaltura and other instructional technologies via workshops, consultations, videos and support documentation. While building online interactive activities for faculty, she has noticed the absence of basic accessibility knowledge and does her best to inform and educate others on how to make content accessible to all learners.

Chrystal Trapani is an Instructional Technologist with the Center for Learning and Teaching and an adjunct instructor in the Department of English at Old Dominion University. Chrystal has crafted tech-forward activities in her composition courses for over twelve years. She blends her experience working with first-generation and non-traditional students, curriculum development, creating interactive and accessible online course content, and training and mentoring faculty in order to help them achieve positive student outcomes and success. In working with faculty, she helps her colleagues gain strong, working knowledge of how to make course content successful for students of all learning abilities. Chrystal continues her commitment to teaching so she can share personal classroom experience with faculty.