Apr 4, 2014

Why do instructors need to know about accessibility?

Why is accessibility important? 

What are the top three higher education accessibility complaints? 
According to Judith Risch, Attorney, with the Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, (the speaker at a recent workshop, Distance Learning and Accessibility), the three primary complaints she receives are:
  1. Inaccessible [college] web sites
  2. Inaccessible course materials
  3. Inaccessible third-party course materials

Do instructors need to be accessibility experts? No, but...

If a student enrolls in your course, and provides you with their Durham Tech Accommodation Plan, you must make sure all of your required course materials are accessible to them.  

What can you do now in Sakai? In the text editor:

  • Use Format to create different sized headings, instead of using bold and font size
  • Provide alternative text for images, so it can be read by a screen-reader
  • Create a Link with a descriptive title, instead of "Click here"
  • If your text is hard to see if you printed it, it's too hard to read! Change the font color or font size to one your students can easily see and read. 
  • Don't use color alone to explain a concept, for example, instead of changing the word Stop to red, bold it too, so a colorblind person knew it was important, too

 How do you make your Word, Excel, PowerPoint and pdf files accessible?

  •  It's actually pretty easy in Office 2013. They have an accessibility checker, with step by step instructions provided so you can easily update your document
  • Office 2013, 2010 and 2007 all provide ways to save your documents as pdf's, and make them accessible (it would be better to use Adobe Acrobat Professional if you have it).
What about audio and multimedia (videos)?
  • If a student can't hear, they will need a transcript for your audio/video files
  • If a student can't hear, they may also need a caption for video files
  • Portland Community College provides excellent tips for finding captioned videos in YouTube and Google Video, and for creating transcripts and captions
Who can you contact to provide direction, when making your course accessible?
Contact Durham Tech's disability services at disabilityservices@durhamtech.edu ; for Sakai content, contact sakaihelp@durhamtech.edu

FYI: The workshop "Distance Learning and Accessibility",  was held on March 11, 2014, and was sponsored by the North Carolina Association on Higher Education and Disability (NC AHEAD) and the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) Office. 

What is Universal Design for Learning? 
From Penn State: Video Captions and Audio Transcripts
From YouTube: Captions

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