The following suggestions are recommended in meeting the Americans with Disability Act.
“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability …shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance… (Section 504, 29 U.S.C. Sec. 794). ” Follow these basic guidelines for compliance:
- Describe images and hyperlinks with alternative text.
- Use San Serif fonts for online text.
- Check and repair all portable document formats (PDFs) for accessibility.
- Caption all audio and video.
Images. Alternative (alt) text helps people that use assistive technology (e.g., screen readers) as their learning accommodation. For example, screen readers like Microsoft’s JAWS (Job Access with Speech) read the description aloud to the user with vision impairment. Make sure you concisely provide alt text for each image in your online course. This included images on a course page, within a PowerPoint, or Word or PDF document. For eCollege, simply add the description for the image when you are uploading it—this is a required field called Descriptive Text.
Hyperlinks. When you add links to the Webliography in eCollege, it asks for the name of the link to display and the URL. Think about simplifying information by providing the specific name of the Website instead of a confusing Web address, also known as the URL (Uniform Resource Locator). The exact name of the Website will aid all learners in understanding where the link will take them. Additionally, the assistive technology will read aloud the long URL if you do not give it a name. Imagine listening to an entire URL reading: “h-t-t-p-semicolon-forward slash-forward slash-secure-period-ecollege-period-com-forward slash-shc,” et cetera. This would cause extra cognitive load on the listener. Here is a good and bad example:
- Good Practice Spring Hill College Online
- Bad Practice https://secure.ecollege.com/shc/index.learn?action=welcome
Fonts. Sans-serif fonts are recommended for online text to provide accessibility. Sans-serif fonts do not have the “hats and shoes” on certain letters that serif fonts include. eCollege provides the following San Serif fonts: Arial, Comic Sans, Microsoft (MS) Sans Serif, Segoe UI, Tahoma, and Verdana. Avoid using the following Serif fonts offered in eCollege: Courier New, Georgia, Garamond, and Times New Roman. This is because serifs in these fonts may waiver and be difficult to read on low bandwidth or poor Internet connections.
PDFs. Are your PDFs readable? Conduct a word search within the Find box of the PDF for a word you see in the document. Type Ctrl+F if you don’t see a Find box. If you receive the message, “No matches were found,” then the document is a scanned image, which cannot be read by persons who use assistive technology. Use Adobe Acrobat Pro XI to repair “unreadable” PDFs.
Ensure your MS Word documents are accessible before you save them as a PDF. MS Word 2010 and version 2013 have accessibility checkers that will highlight any issues your document has. Within MS Word, select File > Info> Check for Issues > Check Accessibility. Fix issues like missing alt text for images. See Adobe Accessibility Quick Reference Card for information on earlier versions of MS Word that you may have at home.
Captions. Caption all media. Closed captioning is the preferred format (instead of open captions), so the user can turn it on or off according to their needs. Use YouTube or other free captioning services. If you do not have your media captioned, at the very least, provide a script until you caption the video or audio file. However, transcripts do not provide equal access to the lesson because the words and images from the video are not in sync to enhance meaning.