Accessibility in the Classroom - Text Version

Text version of Infographic available online

Accessibility in Online Courses

The Internet is increasingly becoming the primary way for students to access their course information, content, and materials. But can ALL students, including those with disabilities, access the same information? “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” Quote by Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.

U.S. Population with Disabilities

Americans with disabilities occupy a far greater percentage of our nation’s population than one might think. According to a 2015 American Community Survey, 12.6 percent (39.9 million) of non-institutionalized civilians in the U.S. live with at least one disability. Furthermore, 1 in 9 people in the U.S. have a hearing, visual, or cognitive impairment which can affect their ability to access certain information online.

Students with Disabilities at EFSC

Here at Eastern Florida State College, we have a diverse population of students with hearing, visual, or cognitive impairments. There were 976 EFSC students that registered with the Student Access for Improved Learning (SAIL) office in 2016. Of those 976 students, there were 1.6 percent (16 students) with a hearing impairment, 2.7 percent (26 students) with a visual impairment, and 32.3 percent (315 students) with a cognitive impairment. Keep in mind, these are just the number of students who self-report. Based on national statistics, our “actual” number of students with disabilities is likely much greater!

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life – including education. On February 12, 2015, Harvard University and MIT were sued over a lack of closed-captioning in their online courses. It is important that our institution make every effort to adhere to the laws that are designed to protect or students.

Accessible Course Design

“Just as buildings without ramps hinder people who use wheelchairs, online content designed without accessibility in mind excludes individuals with certain disabilities.”

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an approach to curriculum that minimizes barriers and maximizes learning for ALL students. Here are some UDL best-practices to be aware of when designing your online course to ensure maximum accessibility for all of your students.
1. Provide equal alternatives to auditory and visual content. This includes only using close-captioned videos and providing Alt-Text for all images.
2. Use high-contrast colors and don’t rely on color alone. Be mindful of students with visual impairments and color blindness when choosing graphics or font colors.
3. Format headers and sub-headers using Text Styles. Formatted text is easier for students using screen-reader software to follow.
4. Avoid using scanned PDFs. Avoid unnecessary distracting graphics or sounds. Ensure users can easily pause or stop movement, blinking or scrolling content.