Accessible Course Design
Pro-actively designing your course to meet accessibility standards not only benefits students with documented accommodations, but also students who are English language learners, students working in loud or quiet environments, students with limited access to private working environments, students with visual impairments, and students who may have undiagnosed or invisible diagnosis such as dyslexia and ADHD.
Did you know that designing your course for accessibility is a civil rights issue? Specific laws that reference disability rights include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 (revised 2008), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (reauthorized 2004). Designing your course for accessibility ensures that ALL of your students have equal access to achieve their learning goals.
The Center for Faculty Excellence is here to help you take a proactive approach to designing your course content to meet accessibility standards. Begin by exploring our resources below!
Principles of an Accessible Course:
Instructor-Created Course Documents
All course documents (Word, PDF) distributed in-class or virtually must be formatted correctly for all students to access the content. As a general rule of thumb, we suggest that instructors DO NOT use PDF documents. Students using any adaptive technology, such as screen readers, are unable to read documents that have been scanned and saved as PDFs. Remediating PDF's for accessibility is also very time-consuming. For these reasons, we suggest that instructors default to Microsoft Word for all course documents.
The key components of an accessible document include: proper heading styles, alt-text for images, properly formating tables, links and hyper links, and lists. Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat Pro DC also includes an accessibility checker that you can run after formatting your document to check for any outstanding accessibility issues.
Refer to the following steps to create an accessible document in Microsoft Word.
Found Course Documents and Articles (PDF)
Many instructors use found PDF documents and articles in their course. The majority of these documents are in PDF format and need accessibility remeditation. For these documents, we suggest that instructors reach out to an accessibility professional in the Office of Accessibility Services to check for any accessibility concerns. Instructors can also reach out to the University Libraries and work with a librarian to source articles that are already in an accessible format. If your document will be posted on a BGSU website, you can submit your PDF for remediation via the Office of Marketing and Brand Strategy.
Is My PDF Document or Article Accessible?
How to test: Try selecting text using a mouse, or select all text using Edit > “Select All” from the Acrobat menu.
If No, this is an image file and is not accessible. Covert to text using View > Tools > “Recognize Text.”
Refer to the following steps to check for PDF Accessibility in Acrobat Pro
- Creating Accessible Course Documents in Microsoft Word (19:45 minutes)
- PDF Remediation Basics (24:31 minutes)
- PDF Accessibility - Reading Order and Color Contrast (3:03 minutes)
- PDF Accessibility - Lists (3:05 minutes)
- PDF Accessibility - Blank Artifacts (2:19 minutes)
- PDF Accessibility - Tables (3:58 minutes)
- PDF Accessibility - Alt Text (3:55 minutes)
- PDF Accessibility - Headings (8:36 minutes)
Ensuring that your course videos are enabled with accurate captioning is an essential component of accessible course design. Accurate captioning not only assists students who have hearing impairments, but also students who are English language learners, students working from a public space, students working in a loud environment who are unable to hear the video, and students working in a quiet environment who are unable to use video sound.
Captioning Your Own Videos
When recording your instructional video, it is important speak clearly and slowly, only one speaker at a time, and use a headset with a good microphone. Doing so will allow for a higher likelihood that the auto-generated captions will be accurate. We also suggest that if you are using longer terminology or jargon in your lectures or instructional videos, to say the word and then spell it out before continuing on, which could help minimize editing later.
As an instructor, you have access to record or upload videos (MP4, YouTube, Vimeo) into Canvas Studio. Once you have loaded your video into Canvas Studio, you will need to review the auto-generated captions for accuracy. Watch this short Canvas Studio Closed Captioning Tutorial to learn how to edit your captions.
If you choose to record and upload your MP4 video on YouTube to share with your class, YouTube will auto-generate captions. Before you share the YouTube video with your class, you will need to ensure that the auto-generated captions are accurate. If you need to make edits in your auto-generated captions on YouTube, you can follow the YouTube captioning directions to make those changes.
If you are recording a video using Zoom, it is important to enable the audio transcription for your cloud recordings. "Audio transcription automatically transcribes the audio of a meeting or webinar that you record to the cloud. After this transcript is processed, it appears as a separate VTT file in the list of recorded meetings. In addition, you have the option to display the transcript text within the video itself, similar to a closed caption display. The transcript is divided into sections, each with a timestamp that shows how far into the recording that portion of the text was recorded. You can edit the text to more accurately capture the words, or to add capitalization and punctuation, which are not captured by the transcript." (Zoom) You can then upload this transcript into YouTube or Canvas Studio to use as your captioning.
If you would like to pay to have your course videos captioned, the CFE suggests using Rev for your captioning services. English captions are listed as $1.50 per minute. Discuss payment options with your department.
Many times through out course instruction, you will need or want to provide links to external resources. When linking to external resources, there are a few best practices to follow:
Use Descriptive and Concise Text for the Hyper Link
Tell the student (visual reader or screen-text reader) where they are going and what they will be doing when they access the link.
- Accessible: Review resources on the Center for Faculty Excellence website for more information.
- Non-Accessible: For more information about the Center for Faculty Excellence resources, click here.
Hyper Linking Videos
Utilize descriptive and concise text, but also indicate to the student that the hyper link will redirect them to a video. It is also a good idea to note the length of the video for students before they open the link. Students are more likely to watch a video between 2 - 5 minutes in length vs. a long lecture.
- Accessible: YouTube: What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)? (2:52 minutes)
- Non-Accessible: Watch the following video to learn about UDL
Embedding Videos in Canvas
When incorporating content into your Canvas course, you can embed videos as well as include them as hyper links. Read the following directions to learn how to embed a video in your Canvas course.
Canvas is the Learning Management System (LMS) system used at BGSU. All members of the BGSU Teaching Community have access to a Canvas shell that is attached to the course they are teaching. Even if you are not teaching your course in an online or hybrid format, all instructors should be using Canvas as part of the teaching strategies and to post the course syllabus.
One way to ensure your Canvas course meets accessibility requirements is to download and use the BGSU Canvas Template. Employing a course template allows you to spend less time on course design so you can focus on your learning objectives and on interacting with students. Widespread use of this template will help ensure that students have a more consistent experience in Canvas, regardless of the courses they are enrolled in.
Key components of Canvas accessibility include: proper use of headings, alt-text for images, proper formatting for tables, color contrast ratios, and links & hyper links. Canvas also utilizes an accessibility checker called Ally that will notify you of any accessibility issues.
Canvas Video Tutorials
- Five Principles for Creating an Accessible Canvas Course (13:33 minutes)
- Introduction to Canvas Ally (2:42 minutes)
- Canvas Course Design with Accessibility in Mind (22:33 minutes)
Universal Design for Learning
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an educational framework that aims to remove barriers to learning that exist inside the learning environment or curriculum; creating an equitable learning experience to meet student variability. Learn more about Universal Design for Learning.
Students With Documented Accommodations
Students who are registered for services are required to contact their faculty at the beginning of each semester to share a Student Accommodation Memo and discuss approved accommodations. If you have any questions about a student's accommodations, please contact BGSU's Office of Accessibility Services.
A Guide to Disability Rights Laws. A guide to disability rights laws. (n.d.). Retrieved September 9, 2022, from https://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm
About idea. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (2022, August 10). Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://sites.ed.gov/idea/about-idea/
Alternative text. WebAIM. (n.d.). Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://webaim.org/techniques/alttext/ Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). What is Section 508? EPA. Retrieved September 9, 2022, from https://www.epa.gov/accessibility/what-section-508#:~:text=Section%20508%20requires%20that%20the,work%20for%20the%20federal%20government.
“Microsoft.” Present with Real-Time, Automatic Captions or Subtitles in PowerPoint, https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/present-with-real-time-automatic-captions-or-subtitles-in-powerpoint-68d20e49-aec3-456a-939d-34a79e8ddd5f.
New on ada.gov. ADA.gov homepage. (n.d.). Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://www.ada.gov/
Protecting students with disabilities. Home. (2020, January 10). Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html
“Typefaces and Fonts.” WebAIM, https://webaim.org/techniques/fonts/.
Updated: 11/08/2022 09:22AM