Online classes can present unique challenges for students with disabilities. Here are twenty basic guidelines for making your online courses more accessible:
- Use clear, consistent layouts and organization schemes for presenting content.
- Use the built in features of Canvas, Microsoft Word, and PowerPoint to present a logical order within course materials
- Caption videos and transcribe audio content.
- Use descriptive wording for hyperlink text (e.g., "Lecture 19 Resources" rather than "click here."
- Avoid using PDF documents, especially those presented as images (i.e., the text cannot be copied and thus inaccessible to someone using a screen reader); if a PDF is used, design it to be accessible or create an accessible HTML or Word version as the primary source and link to the PDF as a secondary source to the content.
- Provide concise text descriptions of content presented within images.
- Use large, bold fonts on uncluttered pages with plain backgrounds.
- Use color combinations that are high contrast and can be read by those who are colorblind.
- Make sure all content and navigation is accessible using the keyboard alone and choose IT tools that are accessible.
With respect to instructional methods, consult Equal Access: Universal Design of Instruction and follow these guidelines:
- Do not assume students have a wide range of technology skills and provide options for gaining the technology skills needed for course participation.
- Present content in multiple ways (e.g., in a combination of text, video, audio, and/or image format).
- Address a wide range of language skills as you write content (e.g., spell acronyms, define terms, avoid or define jargon).
- Make instructions and expectations clear for activities, projects, and assigned reading.
- Make examples and assignments relevant to learners with a wide variety of interests and backgrounds.
- Offer outlines and other scaffolding tools to help students learn.
- Provide adequate opportunities to practice.
- Allow adequate time for activities, projects, and tests (e.g., give details of project assignments in the syllabus so that students can start working on them early).
- Provide feedback on project parts and offer corrective opportunities.
- Provide options for communicating and collaborating that are accessible to individuals with a variety of disabilities.
- Provide options for demonstrating learning (e.g., different types of test items, portfolios, presentations, discussions).
University of Washington and DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology), which serves to increase the successful participation of individuals with disabilities in postsecondary education and careers. More information can be found at washington.edu/doit.