Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Accessibility in Online Courses

In 2011, the PCC Accessibility Guidelines for Online Course Content were developed and implemented in collaboration with Instructional Support, Online Learning, Accessible Ed & Disability Resources, 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.

For frequently asked questions, please see our Web Accessibility FAQs.

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)

The PCC Accessibility Guidelines for Online Course Content

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 documents, web pages 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.
  • Don’t require inaccessible applications be used.
  • Optional materials must include a balance of accessible options.
  • Write math and science equations accessibly.
  • Include the Accommodations Statement in your syllabus and link to accessibility or assistive technology user information for software or web applications that are required in the course.

The Legal Stuff

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
Legal Settlements related to IT Accessibility

Keep abreast of the Office of Civil Rights Settlements on the ATHEN (Access Technology Higher Education Network) website.