Recommended Resources: Online Learning Accessibility & Policy
We may be accessibility experts, but we certainly didn’t get here without doing our research. That’s why we’ve compiled this industry-specific resource guide on the implementation of online learning accessibility policies & best practices at institutions of higher education. Read through our recommended resources below:
University accessibility assets
One of the most useful resources for writing online learning accessibility policies in higher education is the University of Washington’s compilation of accessible IT policies. Review policy examples from institutions such as:
- Michigan State University – Web Accessibility
- George Mason University – Accessibility @ Mason
- San Francisco State University – Accessibility Technology Initiative
- California Community Colleges – Accessibility Center
Higher education professionals interested in accessibility should also reference the Section 508 Tools & Training for a glossary of terms, training classes, and example playbooks.
Online learning policy aides:
Michigan State University
Though MSU disclaims their tutorials for creating accessible documents are not comprehensive, they are a great place to start! MSU’s tutorials include guidance on creating accessible PDFs, Microsoft documents (like Word and PowerPoint), and how to correctly structure headings.
California Community Colleges
California Community Colleges’ Accessibility Center contains a treasure trove of guidance for making online education accessible in a variety of ways. Some helpful highlights include:
- Web evaluation tools to scan sites & identify accessibility issues
- Guidelines for creating accessible alternate media (including the use of braille, audio readers, & electronic documents)
University of Washington
The DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center at UW provides “20 Tips for Teaching an Accessible Online Course,” which gives recommendations on instructional methods, as well as how to design, select, and/or use accessible IT.
For guidance on procurement policies in higher education, we recommend reviewing the University of Washington’s example compilation of accessible IT policies, which provide outlines for procurement at institutions such as:
Universal design aides
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
W3C is an international community of experts working to develop web accessibility standards, and are responsible for the WCAG guidelines that are now held up as precedent. Check out their guide to Accessibility, Usability, and Inclusion for more on accessible design.
Penn State’s checklist
Penn State University’s Quick Accessibility Checklist is a resource for anyone who wants to create or edit web-based course materials. The list offers specific tips for adjusting text elements, multimedia elements, and HTML tags.
University of Washington
Another resource from their DO-IT center, UW provides guidance on incorporating universal design principles in specific educational environments, including instruction and student services.
One of the best ways to learn how you can improve online learning accessibility is to consider your user’s experience – we recommend consulting user experience guides like the ones from A List Apart magazine and the Nielsen Norman Group.
This post was originally published on February 6, 2013 by Shannon Murphy & has since been updated for accuracy, freshness, and clarity.
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