As more and more of our learning content is moved into the digital realm, it is increasingly important for us to make sure that all the content that we put online is accessible or usable for all of our learners. According to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education, the term accessibility means “when a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally integrated and equally effective manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use.”
So, you’ve probably been hearing the phrase “designing for accessibility” thrown around a lot and are determined to start making your course content more accessible, but you have no idea where to start. Many of the resources found online can be daunting and text-heavy and as much as you’d love to spend the time to sit down and read everything, it can be difficult to navigate through the information. Have no fear! After perusing countless resources trying to learn more about accessibility myself, I’ve singled out three exceptional visual resources that you can view at a glance to easily start making your courses and course content more accessible.
The first resource is a set of posters that visually portrays the do’s and don’ts of designing for accessibility. What’s unique about this resource is that each poster details design considerations that should be made when designing course content for learners with different types of disabilities. While some items may be beyond our ability to control, it’s still important for us to be aware of the potential issues that our learners may face. This set of guidelines is a great place to start when thinking about how to design accessible learning content.
2. Digital Accessibility Quick Cards by: Minnesota IT services
The second resource is a set of digital accessibility quick cards that you can reference when developing your learning content in Microsoft Office and Adobe. Each quick card has general guidelines and tips on how to format and structure your content on the different platforms to make it accessible for all learners. Remember you can always use the built-in accessibility checkers in Microsoft products and the built-in accessibility checker in Adobe Acrobat to help you check your documents for accessibility compliance.
3. Accessible Syllabus Example By: University of Cincinnati
Finally, the third resource I’d like to share with you is an accessible syllabus visual that points out what to be mindful of when you’re developing your course syllabus. From the visual, you’ll notice the importance of structuring your headers and paragraph text appropriately, adding alternate text to your images, formatting tables and graphs which includes descriptive captioning, and providing meaningful link text. For more detailed information and tips about developing an accessible syllabus visit the Accessible Syllabus Website developed by Tulane University.
About the Author:
Jennifer Foung, M.A.
Instructional Designer, Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI)
Jennifer Foung is an instructional designer at the Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation at UC Irvine. She received her Masters in Library and Information Science at Rutgers University and her Masters in Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design at Columbia University. Jennifer worked as a K-12 media specialist from 2010-2020. In 2017, she joined the DTEI team as an instructional designer. Jennifer has extensive experience in faculty training; particularly teaching faculty how to integrate educational technologies into their courses to engage students and encourage collaborative learning. Jennifer is an advocate of informal learning practices and believes the best type of learning occurs when students are given unstructured opportunities to think, discuss and apply. Jennifer also has experience in graphic and web design which she uses to enhance the usability, function and design of online courses. Jennifer values continual professional growth and is always on the lookout for innovative tools and ideas that can be used to motivate and engage learners.