Accessibility in Online Courses
For help, contact: Karen Sorensen
In 2011, the PCC Accessibility Guidelines for Online Course Content were developed and implemented in collaboration with Instructional Support, Distance Education, Disability Services, the Web Team, the Library and multiple faculty members. The PCC accessibility guidelines are based on the WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) AA standards which are internationally accepted, web accessibility guidelines.
Definition of Accessible
“Accessible” means 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 effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally and independently as a person without a disability. Although this might not result in identical ease of use compared to that of persons without disabilities, it still must ensure equal opportunity to the educational benefits and opportunities afforded by the technology and equal treatment in the use of such technology. (Office of Civil Rights in the Resolution agreement with South Carolina Technical College System, 2/18/13)
These guidelines are based on internationally accepted, web accessibility guidelines WCAG 2.0 AA. Follow these guidelines or the step-by-step document-specific instructions to keep your course content accessible.
- Use properly formatted headings to structure the page.
- Format lists as lists.
- Write meaningful link text.
- Create tables with column and/or row headers
- Maintain a proper reading order in tables, forms and slides.
- Use sufficient color contrast.
- Don't use color alone to convey meaning.
- Ensure that any action that uses a mouse, can also be completed by keyboard alone.
- Provide alternative text descriptions for images.
- Design clear and consistent navigation.
- Eliminate or limit blinking / flashing content to 3 seconds.
- Label form fields and buttons clearly.
- Caption video.
- Transcribe audio.
- Don't require inaccessible software applications be used.
- Optional materials must include a balance of accessible options.
- Write math and science equations accessibly.
The Legal Stuff
Check out this great webinar presented by the EDUCAUSE IT Accessibility group. It reviews what every CIO and campus leader should know about accessibility. And though a few years old, this lecture by Tim Spofford (retired Office of Civil Rights attorney) is very good and still relevant.
Legal Regulations (and one report) for Higher Education
- Letter & follow up Q & A’s sent to every college president by Departments of Justice & Education, Civil Rights Division:
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, subpart E: Post Secondary
- Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
- Accessible Instructional Materials Commission Report
Legal Settlements related to IT Accessibility
While there are other lawsuits and OCR complaints pending, these are the legal settlements that have been made regarding IT accessibility::
- Youngstown State University (2014)
- University of Cincinnati (2014)
- University of Montana Resolution Agreement (2014)
- Miami University lawsuit (2014)
- Lawsuit brought by student regarding inaccessible online materials and lack of equally effective content.
- Louisiana Tech University (Department of
- Partially due to inaccessible publisher (Pearson) materials
- South Carolina Technical College System (Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights) (2013)
- University of California, Berkeley - Settlement Agreement
- Private lawsuit brought against the university regarding turn-around time and responsibilities for the creation of alternate formats.
- Florida State University Settlement (2012)
- Penn State Settlement with National Federation of the Blind
- Office of Civil Rights complaint filed by the NFB against Penn State for inaccessible electronic and information technologies.
- Arizona State University, Reed College, PACE, Darden School of Business and Case Western- Settlement Agreement (2010)
- Lawsuit brought against university due to an Inaccessible Kindle pilot program