Online learning recommendations for digitally accessible content
Western Michigan University is committed to creating a working and learning environment where all members of our community can thrive. As an educational institution, we strive to promote inclusivity by providing awareness and access to resources that promote accessibility for our online educational content. This includes providing and implementing accessible content that ensures the student disability accommodations are met.
Faculty and students should be prepared to discuss accommodation needs that may arise. Disability Services for Students (DSS) is available to answer questions about implementing accommodations in your classroom.
What does accessibility mean to me as an educator?
Creating accessible educational content is the process of designing courses and developing a teaching style to meet the needs of students with various backgrounds, abilities and learning styles. With that in mind, designing your courses using a variety of styles, methods and formats can enhance the student experience for all learners while complying with and in the spirit of WMU's Institutional Equity Policy and Web Accessibility Policy, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or W3C and Section 508 accessibility laws and policies.
Accessibility is the right thing to do. Students with disabilities may be unable to access websites and course content critical to their educational engagement. When you design digital communications and content for accessibility, students can participate without additional modification to your course content. With that in mind, your commitment to developing and integrating accessible content is critical. Effective accessibility in instructional technology is dependent on accessible design, and it is our responsibility as educators to design our content within these parameters.
Ensuring Accessibility of Learning Materials and Digital Content
This is a quick start list and brief overview a of how to get started creating and publishing digitally accessible course content. This webpage is intended to be a starting point for making documents and other digital content accessible to students who require accommodations and have barriers to accessing digital content that is not accessibly formatted or captioned.
Please explore the additional resources in the Accessibility / Ally for Elearning Help Hub for creating accessible online course materials that ensure your students an inclusive learning experience.
Documents and content posted online require accessible formatting
As content creators and publishers in an Elearning environment, accessibility means using a logical hierarchical order of headings, correct table structures for data, providing descriptive text for hyperlinks, alternative text for images and captions for all video and audio content. Documents created and shared online should have:
Use descriptive heading styles to designate content organization. Using headings (e.g., Heading 1, Heading 2) indicates the hierarchy of content. Predefined style headings in text editors allow readers to more clearly understand the structure of your document or web page.
Use consistent text styles, sizes, and fonts. When using color, use additional shapes and patterns to emphasize or denote the differences.
Use more than color to denote differences, emphasis, and content meaning. In addition to contrasting colors, consider adding text, shapes, and patterns.
Check that text has a strong contrast against the page background. Providing enough contrast between text and the background enables content to be read by those with moderate visual impairments and in low light conditions. It’s recommended to use black text on a white background.
Use bulleted(unordered) or numbered (ordered) list styles to denote list structure.
Provide alternative text for images, graphs, and charts. Descriptive alt text explains what is being illustrated and is read when using non-visual browsers.
Do not use tables to control format or layout. Format and use simple tables with row and column headers. Split nested and complex tables up into simple tables.
All videos, audio, and interactive media posted online must be captioned. Supply multiple avenues for multimedia content (e.g., audio with a transcript, video with captioning).
If your class will be taking the exams on Elearning, please make sure that testing accommodations are reflected.
For now, DSS will continue to proctor exams as needed. If the class is taking exams via Elearning, accommodated students should have access to an accessible version via Elearning. If a student is requesting to take the exam at DSS, for assistive technology access or reader scribe access, DSS proctoring will be available for these specific request. Please note we are expecting reduced student staffing due to the universities recommendation. If a student no longer needs to take an exam at DSS, we are asking they cancel the exam room booking on the DSS-Accommodate portal. For exams that are not canceled, we will assume additional accommodations are needed and continue our regular testing processes.
If you have questions or concerns regarding testing, please contact DSS (269-387-2116) or the testing coordinator, Kellie Skiba (269-387-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org).