Mainly because it’s the right thing to do, you will need to ensure that the materials you post in Canvas are accessible to all of your students, including those with disabilities. You might have noticed in the news that many colleges and universities have been sued in recent years for running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
To ensure you are on the right side of the law, you will want to follow “universal accessibility” principles when creating online materials. This results in posting content that all of your students can access and comprehend easily.
Universal accessibility ensures that courses are developed to serve the largest possible audience, using the broadest range of hardware and software platforms, and that the needs of students with disabilities are considered. Universal access means the ability to navigate a web site using various methods, such as mouse, keyboard, voice input or, screen reader.
Commonly used items that might create barriers for students with disabilities include:
- tables used for formatting purposes
- text (font choice and size)
- color (poor choice of text and background colors)
- images missing alternative text description
- multimedia that lacks captioning and/or text description
Regarding the final bullet point above, all videos to be viewed by students must be close captioned. If you post, or link to, an audio file, that file must be accompanied by a written transcript. The California Community Colleges offer faculty free access to 3C Media Solutions, which includes a multimedia repository and an option to caption videos posted to it. Videos posted to YouTube that use YouTube's automated captioning service are not acceptable because of the high amount of errors. Also, make sure your videos are not set to auto-play.
According to the director of the High Tech Center Training Unit, which is the lead accessibility agency for the CCCs: If online content is not accessible to students with disabilities, a question that needs to be asked is: Can those students be accommodated? If they cannot be accommodated, instructors cannot require its usage.
Finally, whether or not you have students with disabilities in your class is irrelevant; all materials must be made accessible.
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