Best Practices | Basic Accessibility Checklist
Imagine you’re taking an online course as a student.
What is your main concern? Perhaps you feel distressed about consuming learning material from a computer screen, or maybe you are uneasy about interacting with your instructor and peers in a virtual space.
Now imagine you’re taking an online course, and in addition to your concern, your sight is severely limited. Or you have a hearing impairment. What if you have a condition that interferes with cognitive processing? Now what barriers to learning might you encounter? What adjustments would you need in order to fully interact with the course?
Accessibility isn’t about catering to a single group of students; it’s an instructional approach that benefits all learners by optimizing their learning experience and providing multiple avenues for interacting with the course content.
The key to an accessible course is a proactive instructor—being mindful from the beginning (i.e., the design and development phase) and designing course materials that are functional for all learners. In turn, your students will spend more time actively engaging with their learning, not trying to figure out the course materials. In addition, learners with disabilities can access the content, and you’ve alleviated potential learning barriers. As a result, you maximize your time on instruction and greatly reduce the work (and stress) of having to make last-minute changes.
To help create optimal learning environments, we’ve developed a Basic Accessibility Checklist that incorporates ADA and WGAC standards. This tool can help you check all of your boxes (literally and figuratively) in making course design approachable and accessible for learners. By using this checklist, you can confirm that a course is:
- Designed in accordance with federal law and university policy
- User friendly
- Accessible to students with different learning needs, styles, preferences, and interests
- Populated with frequently requested accommodations
So grab a pen (or mouse), and let’s check out your course! Keep in mind that there may be some unchecked boxes, and that’s okay. The checklist is intended to identify specific course elements and guide you in making them accessible. If you’d like assistance with your checklist analysis or adjustments, reach out to us at CIRT. We’re happy to support you with your accessibility goals!
We’ve also included a list of helpful resources below to help make your course more accessible. If you’d like to further explore these or any other resources, just let us know.
Best Practices for Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
General information and examples for supporting accessibility and UDL in your online course.
Online Course Templates
Adopting a CIRT Course Template is an easy way to support accessibility in your online courses.
CIRT Events Calendar
Check our Events Calendar for regular workshops on accessibility. Visit the Past Events page and search for “access” to view past workshops and download helpful resources and materials.
Basic Accessibility Checklist
- I have an Accessibility Statement on my Course Overview or Help/Support page, and it includes the following:
- The UNF accessibility policy. A hyperlink that is meaningfully introduced is sufficient.
- A brief description of the DRC, stating how students can receive disability services and accommodations and including a hyperlink to the DRC homepage.
- The Canvas accessibility policy. A hyperlink that is meaningfully introduced is sufficient.
- The accessibility policies for technology products that students are required to use in the course. A hyperlink that is meaningfully introduced is sufficient.
- The text I’ve created is easily read by students and screen readers.
- All text content is created using the Rich Content Editor in Canvas.
- All text content is selectable. It can be highlighted, copied, and pasted.
- All text content is searchable. Specific words or phrases can be detected using the Search tool (Ctrl + F or Command + F).
- Font size is at least 12-point.
- Bold font is used sparingly.
- Italics are avoided.
- Underlined text is only used for hyperlinks.
- Hyperlinks are semantically meaningful—each hyperlink provides a brief description about the linked content.
- The font color is in high contrast with the background color.
- Headings are used to organize the content and group related information.
- Headings are created using the Change Text Style tool from the Paragraph drop-down menu.
- Formatted lists are created using the Bulleted List or Numbered List tool.
Images and Multimedia Content
- The images and multimedia I’ve included are supplemented with means of alternative access.
- Images are populated with alternative text, commonly referred to as “alt text.”
- Videos include closed-captioning or a transcript. There are tools in Arc and YouTube for self-generation of captions, which typically require some correction. CIRT also contracts with a third-party provider to generate caption and transcript files. Please contact us for assistance in obtaining captions and transcripts.
- Audio files are accompanied by a transcript.
- Tables are created in the Rich Content Editor with defined cell properties.
- Canvas pages have been analyzed with the Canvas Accessibility Checker (available in the Rich Content Editor) or the Check Accessibility tool (when using Design Tools).
- Microsoft files (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel) have been evaluated with the Microsoft Accessibility Checker.
- PDF files have been analyzed with the Accessibility Checker (Full Check) in Adobe.
- If any issues were identified, they have been addressed, or I have reached out to CIRT for assistance.
More Best Practices
In addition to making your course accessible, here are some other best practices that help to make your course more user-friendly.
Course Design Navigation
- My course design is consistent.
- Each module (or week) follows the same structure, resulting in a familiar learning environment.
- My course is easy to navigate.
- Learners can easily determine where they can access the materials they need.