Course Accessibility Guidelines

Goal of Checklist

The goal of this checklist is to help instructors identify common accessibility blockers in their courses and provide them with techniques that will make the content more accessible to a diverse audience.

Rationale

Using these relatively low cost, low effort techniques will facilitate compliance with Purdue University's Web Accessibility policy and will reduce course preparation time should an instructor receive notice from the Disability Resource Center or student of a documented disability.

Audience

The primary audience for this document is instructors who may only have minimal access to accessibility support resources. This document can also be used by instructional design and support staff.

Checklist of Blockers

This checklist identifies the most prominent accessibility blockers along with methods to ensure accessible content. Techniques are identified as either Fix/Add, meaning you (the instructor) should begin to address that issue proactively, or With Notice, meaning that you should be aware that the blocker must be addressed when notice is received from the Disability Resource Center or student of a documented disability.

Note: A student enrolled in any course providing notice from the Disability Resource Center must receive the specified accommodations regardless of whether the technique is listed in this checklist.

List of Blockers and Recommend Solutions

ItemDescriptionBenefits/Notes
Accessibility Statement
Fix/Add
  1. Mandatory: All course syllabi must include the syllabus statement on accommodating disabilities.
BENEFITS: All students become aware of the Office for Disability Services and the process for requesting accommodations.
Audio/Video from Purdue
Fix/Add
  1. Audio files should be transcribed.
  2. Videos should be transcribed and captioned.
  3. Visual demonstrations need a text or audio description.
  4. Make sure media files don’t play automatically when a user enters the site.
BENEFITS: Captions also benefit non-native speakers or students experiencing audio glitches.
Audio/Video from Outside Purdue
With Notice
Transcripts or captioned videos must be provided to students requiring an accommodation. However, the distribution of the content may be restricted because of copyright.

See https://www.digitaleducation.purdue.edu/faculty-resources/accessibility.html for captioning information.
N/A
Color Contrast for Legibility
Fix/Add
Ensure good color contrast for text/graphics/charts and backgrounds. Content should be legible in black and white. BENEFITS: This fix improves legibility for all students.
Document Types
Fix/Add
The following formats are recommended and are supported through Purdue's Assistive Technology Center
  1. Web files (e.g. ANGEL HTML Editor, Sites @ Purdue, other HTML documents) can be the most accessible file type.
  2. Word and PowerPoint files can be made accessible as well.
  3. If you create a PDF, provide the same information in some other accessible format unless verified by screen reader.
  4. Tools which allow you to insert Flash content typically result in inaccessible content.
BENEFITS: PDF and Flash are not easily readable on mobile devices, so avoiding them will enhance mobile usability.
External Documents
With Notice
The content of any non-Purdue resource such as a Web site, PDF article from a journal, slides from external sources or other non-Purdue informational resources must be provided in an accessible format to students requiring an accommodation. In some cases, it is permissible to copy and reformat content just for students with a documented need.

For additional information on addressing different scenarios see Purdue's Assistive Technology Center  or links elsewhere in this document.
 
Image ALT Text
Fix/Add
  1. Use ALT text for all content images. ALT text should describe the meaning conveyed by the image in the context of the course material, and it should be up to 150 characters.
  2. Give the image file itself a descriptive file name.
  3. Include a descriptive reference to the image within the surrounding text.
BENEFITS: This allows any student unable to view the image to understand its content.
Image Long Description
With Notice
  1. A complex image requires ALT text significantly longer than 150 characters.
  2. For complex images, consider including a description in the text or a link to the description to the text in another location.
BENEFITS: Not all sighted students process visual information in the same way. If this can be addressed, then all students could have different options to process data.
Link Text
Fix/Add
Avoid vague or repetitive link text such as “click here” or “read more” BENEFITS: Improved link text is often more visible and increases student confidence in finding content.
Math Equations
Fix/Add
Equations should be created with a technology such as LaTeX or an equation editor (e.g. MathType) which allows rapid conversion to MathML.   BENEFITS: This will facilitate conversion of equations to MathML should an accommodation request be received.
Section Headings
Fix/Add
  1. Documents with section headings should include semantically tagged headings
  2. Use descriptive heading text to enhance page navigation and readability
BENEFITS: Headings also enhance legibility and ability for all students to scan online content.
Table Captions and Column Headings
Fix/Add
  1. Do not use tables for layout and design purposes. Restrict tables to presentation of data.
  2. Use the simplest table possible, preferably without merging cells. It is better to use several simple tables rather than a complex table with merged cells.
  3. Use table headers to identify row and columns.
  4. Use a caption to display the table title.
  5. Consider alternatives to tables such as lists for complex tables.
BENEFITS: Accessible table design includes additional information for all students to use.
Technologies
Fix/Add
Use Purdue technology options (e.g. ANGEL, Sites at Purdue) for course work whenever possible.

Note: See Purdue's Assistive Technology Center for information on specific Purdue tools.

Investigate the accessibility of all non-Purdue technologies or materials and make a decision about continued use based on your findings.
BENEFITS: There is more support for accessibility accommodations within Purdue supported tools and materials.

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