I have posted before on what Digital Accessibility means (Power, 2018), and why it is important for educators and instructional designers to do whatever they can to meet basic digital accessibility standards. This is especially important when technology is used to distribute educational resources, and to mediate the teaching and learning experience (i.e., online or distributed learning).
Making Documents More Accessible
- Properly "tagging" headings
- Adding ALT text to images
Learning Technologies at College of DuPage (2018, July 3) has a good overview of additional tips for Creating Accessible Word Docs. They also have a wealth of additional resources on The Accessibility Cheat Sheet (2018, November 13) page.
Making Web Content More Accessible
- Properly "tagging" headings
- Adding ALT text to images
- Checking the Color Contrast Ratio
When it comes to properly "tagging" headings, I recommend sticking to the pre-formatting heading tags, which can be found on the toolbar at the top of the content editor. Just like with a Word document or PDF, anyone using a digital screen reader can easily navigate your page using their keyboard, or a digital switch, by "tabbing" through the pre-formatted headings. If you manually format your text, users won't be able to do this. (Sticking to the pre-formatted headings has an added advantage for you, because it allows site administrators to globally apply updates to organizational styles, including fonts, sizes, and colors, without you needing to update all of your previously created content!)
eLearningBTC (2014) has an excellent video that demonstrates how to properly tag heading levels in the Canvas LMS. While the specific interfaces may look different for the various LMS platforms (such as Brightspace / D2L, Moodle, Blackboard, etc.), the concepts and principles are essentially the same in all of their content editor tools.
Making Images Accessible
If you are going to embed an infographic -- as with any images that you embed -- you should include ALT text that describes what the image portrays. You should also provide an alternate means of accessing the key points, such as listing or describing them in paragraph format either immediately before or after the embedded image. On the other hand -- sometimes you might embed an image that has no real content value. It is simply decorative (such as the accessibility icon at the top of this blog post). If users do not actually need to access the image to comprehend the content you are creating, many web authoring tools, and many LMSs, will allow you to check a box to "tag" the image as "decorative." If you do that, digital screen reader applications will skip the image altogether -- avoiding frustration for many users.
I recently created a short video (2020, February 3) to show a group of my students how to add ALT text to their images when building a content page in the Canvas LMS.
You can use the The Paciello Group's (n.d.) free Color Contrast Analyzer tool to check your content for compliance with basic digital accessibility standards. Also, check out Interaction Design Foundation's (2018) Web Fonts are Critical to the Online User Experience - Don’t Hurt Your Reader’s Eyes.
Adding Captions to Videos
For my Two Basic Steps to Make Your Documents Digitally Accessible video, I taught myself how to use Screencast-O-Matic's (2019) new Captions feature to add closed captions. The following video (Screencast-O-Matic, 2018) shows how to do that yourself:
A Quick Workaround
If you are not able to add closed captions when creating the video, one quick alternative is to prepare a document with the video's transcript, and post a link to a PDF of the transcript along with the video. It is not an ideal solution -- but for some, it is at least a basic means of providing a machine-readable way to access the content.
Digital Accessibility Cheat Sheet
More Detailed Digital Accessibility Cheat Sheets
- Comrade's AA Compliance Cheat Sheet
- Digital A11Y's WCAG Cheat Sheets & Checklists
- Learning Technology's The Accessibility Cheat Sheet
The following sites have even more resources, including full digital accessibility toolkits:
Coolidge, A., Doner, S., & Robertson, T. (2015). BCampus Open Education Accessibility Toolkit. [eBook]. Victoria, BC, Canada: BCampus. Available from https://opentextbc.ca/accessibilitytoolkit/
Council of Ontario Universities (2017a). Accessible Digital Documents & Websites. [Web page]. Accessible Campus. Available from http://www.accessiblecampus.ca/reference-library/accessible-digital-documents-websites/
Council of Ontario Universities (2017b). Accessibility in E-Learning. [Web page]. Accessible Campus. Available from http://www.accessiblecampus.ca/tools-resources/educators-tool-kit/course-planning/accessibility-in-e-learning/
Digital A11Y (2020). WCAG Cheat Sheets & Checklists. [Web page]. Available from https://www.digitala11y.com/wcag-cheat-sheets/
Described and Captioned Media Program (2018). Caption It Yourself. [Web page]. Available from https://dcmp.org/learn/213
eLearningBTC (2014, June 26). Canvas Tip #18: Using Heading tags to improve Accessibility. [YouTube video]. Available from https://youtu.be/EN6M_Ksthms
Giessmann, M. (2019, October 18). Accessibility Cheat Sheet. [Web page]. Available from https://moritzgiessmann.de/accessibility-cheatsheet/
Google (2020). YouTube. [Web page]. Available from https://www.youtube.com/
Interaction Design Foundation (2018). Web Fonts are Critical to the Online User Experience - Don’t Hurt Your Reader’s Eyes. [Web page]. Available from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/web-fonts-are-critical-to-the-online-user-experience-don-t-hurt-your-reader-s-eyes
Learning Technologies (2018, November 13). The Accessibility Cheat Sheet. [Web page]. Learning Technologies at College of DuPage. Available from https://www.codlearningtech.org/2018/11/13/the-accessibility-cheat-sheet/
Learning Technologies (2018, July 3). Accessibility Series: Creating Accessible Word Docs. [Web page]. Learning Technologies at College of DuPage. Available from https://www.codlearningtech.org/2018/07/03/accessibility-series-creating-accessible-word-docs/
Matheson, G. (2017). 5 Reasons You Should Caption Your Videos. [Web blog post]. Access Innovation Media. Available from https://blog.ai-media.tv/blog/5-reasons-you-should-caption-your-videos
The Paciello Group (n.d.). Colour Contrast Analyzer (CCA). [Web page]. Available from https://developer.paciellogroup.com/resources/contrastanalyser/
Power, R. (2018, June 12). Accessibility in Online Teaching and Learning. [Web log post]. Power Learning Solutions. Available from https://www.powerlearningsolutions.com/blog/accessibility-in-online-teaching-and-learning
Power, R. (2020, February 3). Adding ALT text in Canvas. [YouTube video]. Available from https://youtu.be/5wAR9OMWK78
Power, R. (2020, February 12). Two Basic Steps to Make Your Documents Digitally Accessible. [YouTube video]. Available from https://youtu.be/AKzuXghQFnc
Screencast-O-Matic (2018, July 19). Adding Captions on your Screencast-O-Matic Videos. [YouTube video]. Available from https://youtu.be/vMW4qrrFc0g
Screencast-O-Matic (2019). Video Creation for Everyone. [Web page]. Available from https://screencast-o-matic.com/
Slade, Tim (2017, February 26). 250+ Free Stock Photos for eLearning. [Web log post]. Timslade.com. Available from https://timslade.com/blog/stock-photos-for-elearning/
VidIQ (2019, February 1). How to Add Subtitles to YouTube Videos [New Method]. [YouTube video]. Available from https://youtu.be/qfJthDvcZ08