Any educational materials purchased by the university must go through an established process to ensure accessibility. If your unit has not established that process, work with your department for the next steps. This will do a lot to alleviate future headaches of trying to fix things after-the-fact.
Universal Design (UD) is “design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.” Classroom space should follow the rules of Universal Design and allow all students access to resources within the classroom environment.
One of the first places students and parents will go to find out information about the university and classes is the web. Communication via the web is ubiquitous; therefore, it is critical that your websites and webpages, which you control, be made as accessible as possible. There are many ways to improve the accessibility of your web presence. Here are some questions to help you identify those ways.
If you are supplementing your course with interactive course materials such as fillable PDFs or E-text, you'll want to make sure disabled students are able to complete these items independently. The materials must be made accessible before sharing or assigning to the class. Most materials can be made accessible relatively quickly so that all students have the same material at the same time.
This category includes such things as Google Docs, Clickers, PDFs, and E-text.
When using images in your course, ask what role the image plays? Is the image purely decorative or does it convey meaning? Is the image composed of text or of pictures, or both? Is the image also a link? Images must be tagged either through alt-text, captioning, surrounding text, or by including a link to a description. Alt-text provides a textual alternative to non-text content in webpages. Alt-text is read by screen readers in place of images allowing the content and function of the image to be accessible.
Some software products are chosen by the university and are requirements or standards of the university; other software products required for your courses may be at your discretion. When using these software products, it is important to keep accessibility in mind as you develop your course plans. This category of required software includes Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Blackboard, Moodle, Compass, and D2L. Course software includes: Aleks, CatME, Packback, Digication, Mathematica, and Zoom.
Videos cannot be shown without captions and audio descriptions in classes where a student with a registered disability is enrolled. Videos must be checked for captioning/audio-description or an appropriate accessible copy purchased prior to the start of the course. Captioning must be proofed because auto-captioning usually is not sufficient for deaf/hearing impaired students. Further, students who are deaf or hard of hearing must have text descriptions of all video content, not only the dialogue; students who are blind or visually impaired must have audio descriptions of all video content.
The key to having accessible textbooks is to identify them early. Conversion takes time! The law states that all students should be able to access their textbooks at the same time, that a book be in a format the student can use, and the accessible book is as close to the original as possible.
As you create your syllabus, it is important to keep in mind that the syllabus is larger than documentation of the semester’s activities. Since the syllabus is usually the first information a student receives from you, it is important to set the accessibility bar high from the beginning.
Accessibility can be defined as the "ability to access" the functionality, and possible benefit, of some system or entity and is used to describe the degree to which a product such as a device, service, environment is accessible by as many people as possible. The concept of accessible design ensures both "direct access" (i.e. unassisted) and "indirect access" meaning compatibility with a person's assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers).