Learn@UW - Creating Accessible Courses

Learn@UW is committed to ensuring that high quality educational experiences are available to all individuals, including those with special needs. The US Department of Statistics estimates that 20% of the population has a sensory, physical, or learning disability. Legislation in both the USA and Canada reflects the importance of establishing accessibility standards for Web-based resource development. Additionally, you may find that good accessibility practices bring improvements for all users.

For more information on Web accessibility, see the accessibility resources provided by DoIT.

Instructors are expected to comply with the UW Madison Campus Accessibility Policy as much as the technology allows . This means the manner and method used to design a course, as well as the content delivered in a course must be accessible.

The following design strategies will help ensure that a Learn@UW course is accessible to the widest possible audience. These strategies are based on the guidelines provided by the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), at http://www.w3c.org/WAI

  1. Images and animation
    To describe the function of all images for users who cannot access visual elements, use the ALT attribute. An ALT text equivalent describes the function or purpose of visual content. A good test to determine if a text equivalent is useful is to imagine reading the document aloud over the telephone.

    Example: <IMG src="bookshelf.gif" alt="Resource Materials">

    Learn@UW will automatically use the text description of icons provided by ALT tags on the course Homepage and Tool pages. HTML documents uploaded to the Learn@UW Manage Files utility should include ALT text for all images.
  2. Multimedia
    When including multimedia components such as video clips or audio files, provide alternative formats for users who cannot use movies, sound, or audio enhancements directly.

    Example:
    • QuickTime authoring tools allow easy addition of captioning to video clips.
    • Supplementary text can be added as an alternative to video clips or animation.
    • Transcripts of audio files can be included.
  3. Note: Embed multimedia components as well as any of the text equivalents of the multimedia content into a single HTML document to be added to a Content Module.

  4. Hypertext links
    Users who access Web content with audio output use the Tab key to move from link to link. To improve accessibility for these users, ensure that link text is meaningful and makes sense when read out of context.
  5. Page organization
    To allow content to be effectively interpreted by non-visual browsers, use consistent course page structure and correct use of HTML markup. Use outlines at the beginning of long documents, and label and structure lists carefully. When creating Web pages to be uploaded to a Content Module, use standardized HTML markup.

    Example: Sections should be introduced with the HTML header elements (H1-H6) headings:
    • <H1>Cooking techniques</H1>
      ... introductory text here ...
    • <H2>Part 1: Cooking with oil</H2>
      ... text of the section ...
    • <H2>Part 2: Cooking with butter</H2>
      ... text of the section ...
  6. Graphs and charts
    It is helpful to summarize the information in text form when ALT text does not adequately convey the function or role of an image presented in the Learn@UW course content. Additional supporting text may be included within content pages, or may be uploaded as a separate file and linked to the page.
  7. Tables
    Unless line-by-line reading is possible, avoid using tables for column or page layout. Make sure the table cells are read in a logical order.
  8. Point of contact
    Make sure there is a point of contact on each page of content in case someone needs an alternative way of accessing material.

    Example: <p>For questions regarding accessibility, please email: <a href="mailto:webmaster@website.wisc.edu">the Webmaster</a></p>

Validating Work

Validate HTML pages with one of the validation tools available online. By using validation methods in the early stages of course design, problems can be noted before the course begins.

Some of the validation tools available online include:

See Also:




Keywords:learn@uw learnuw d2l desire2learn accessibility disability universal access   Doc ID:8925
Owner:Margene A.Group:Learn@UW Madison
Created:2009-01-26 19:00 CDTUpdated:2016-08-05 14:37 CDT
Sites:DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Tech Store, Learn@UW Madison, School of Education
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