Accessible Classrooms provides education and resources for college faculty who want to learn more about making their classrooms accessible for students of all abilities. Accessibility matters. Whether we teach online or face-to-face, digital technologies are becoming a more common component of our instructional practices. As we post course materials online, develop screencasts, and recommend YouTube videos to our students, we have an opportunity to ensure that this digital content is flexible and accessible for all of our students, regardless of ability.
This guide will help you to get started creating accessible digital content!
Why should I care about accessibility?
1. It’s the law (as established by the ADA and by Sections 508 & 504 of the Rehabilitation Act). You can learn more about the legal aspects of accessibility from The National Center on Disability and Access to Education or The National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education.
2. Developing course materials with accessibility in mind is not only the law but also a sound pedagogical approach.It makes the learning experience better for everyone. Focusing on accessibility allows for flexibility, ensuring that all students are more able to access the materials we produce. A student who is deaf needs captions or transcripts for all audio-based content. These text alternatives allow the student to understand materials that might have otherwise been inaccessible, but the benefit doesn’t stop with this one student. Another student may not have speakers or may be in a noisy room where sound is obscured; a text-based version of the content would provide this student with flexible access.
3. Further, students increasingly access content on mobile devices or from multiple platforms; designing instructional materials with accessibility in mind allows this content to be more flexible. For instance, the mobile version of Facebook is the format preferred by many blind users because of its simply structured interface. As we increase accessibility for a wide range of users, we also increase flexibility for a range of formats and devices.
Won’t making my course materials more accessible take a lot of time?
Accessibility is process, not an all or nothing endeavor. If you design course materials with accessibility in mind, the increased workload is minimal. There are many tools and resources available to assist you in the process of making accessible course materials. As with most endeavors, the more you focus on accessibility the easier the process becomes. Because a focus on accessibility can provide a better learning environment for all students, the extra time required is worth it.
I have a question that isn’t covered by this site. Where can I learn more?
Who created this website?
Accessible Classrooms is developed by Melissa Helquist, a professor, phd candidate and accessibility advocate. Her specific research focuses on blindness and sound-based accessibility tools.
I am continually working to improve the accessibility of this site. If you have questions, recommendations, or would like to request specific information, please contact Melissa Helquist: melissa (dot) helquist (at) slcc.edu