Making progress on course content accessibility

Although most universities have just about mastered website accessibility, their efforts to make sure all course content can be accessed and used by students with disabilities have proved more challenging. “We have been fighting this uphill battle of content accessibility for years, and we have been fighting it without knowing what is actually out there,” said Jeremy Olguin, accessible technology manager at California State University, Chico. “If you can’t inventory, you can’t manage.”

But new tools are providing more transparency into classroom document accessibility and automating some steps in making more accessible alternatives available. For the past year, Chico State has been piloting Blackboard Ally, a program that automatically runs all course materials through a checklist of common accessibility issues. Ally, which works with several learning management systems, then generates a range of more accessible alternatives for the instructor’s original and will make these available to all students in the course. These alternative accessible formats include Semantic HTML, audio, ePub and electronic braille. “The faculty members love that, because they don’t have to take an extra step,” Olquin said.

[ Read the full article at Campus Technology. ]

 For more information on using technologies in your classes, contact the University Center for Teaching and Learning’s Teaching Support unit.