Accessibility in the context of online learning means that all populations of students, regardless of disability, are able to perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with their course materials and can contribute to the course without barriers. Courses and course content that are designed accessibly anticipate barriers and proactively remove them for all students in a course.
Accessibility is different than accommodations, which are reactive to a student disclosing their disability. Most often, these accommodations are created for an individual student and do not guarantee that all barriers to access are removed for others. Accommodations are very likely provided at your institution by something like a Disability Services Office. For example, you’ve ever received a letter from a student requesting additional time for tests, you have provided an accommodation.
Review Your Course
Quality Matters Standard 8 asks course designers to “utilize the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and reflect a commitment to accessibility.” The quality review will review your course for components of accessibility. Use the checklist below to best prepare yourself and your course for accessibility!
Specific Review Standard 8.1 asks that course navigation “facilitate ease of use.” A consistent course look & feel across all courses in a program and across all learning management system pages within a course can help maintain consistency and can help students easily navigate to where they need to go.
Review that your course is organized in a way that is “consistent, logical, and efficient.” The AP provided course template helps guarantee that a “consistent layout and design are employed throughout a course, making content, instructional materials, tools, and media easy to locate for students.” The Learning Design team with Academic Partnerships designed the template to use “design elements that are used repetitively, increasing predictability and intuitiveness.”
Major Learning Management Systems have built-in accessibility checkers that allow you to check the accessibility of your page content including the Canvas Accessibility Checker, the Blackboard Checker in the Rich Content Editor, and the Brightspace D2L Checker. Your institution may also work embedded accessibility tools Blackboard Ally or UDOIT which make it easy to run reports on the accessibility of your content.