Imagine navigating a website... mouse-less. Give it a try. How about watching an instructional video without sound or captioning. Does it make sense?

We’re committed to offering equal access to electronic and information technology for everyone. Implementing accessibility practices is not difficult, but it involves the entire campus community of faculty, staff and professional partners.

Look around – it’s not always obvious, but we’re all working, teaching and learning among colleagues and students who benefit from improved accessibility. Maintaining equal access is the law, but more importantly, it’s the right thing to do.

What is Accessibility?

People with disabilities often use assistive technologies (such as modified mice and keyboards, screen readers and screen magnifiers) to navigate and discern information from emails, web-based services and electronic documents. Accessibility and Section 508 compliance standards work in conjunction with these tools and other methods to offer everyone equal access and the ability to independently succeed in their roles as employees and students.

Major categories of disability types

  • Visual – blindness, low vision, color-blindness
  • Hearing – deafness, hard-of-hearing
  • Motor – inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control
  • Cognitive – learning disabilities, distractibility, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information, auditory processing disorders

Explore these resources and examples of accessibility and assistive technology compatibility experiences faced by students with disabilities.

Benefits for everyone

We all appreciate professional technology that enhances our efficiency and implementing Section 508 standards benefits everyone. Here are some examples:

  • Electronic documents with properly organized content
  • Clear navigation on web-based services
  • Video captioning that also assists multi-lingual students
  • Visual and auditory considerations that aid those with age-related impairments, or temporary disabilities due to injury or illness
  • Specifications to reduce flashing elements that benefit returning veterans with acquired brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder and those with seizure disorders
  • Clear organization and appropriate tagging that make web pages more searchable

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Improving Accessibility

Here’s how you can improve accessibility for all and increase compatibility for use with assistive technologies.

Ensure classroom materials and technologies are accessible

  • Search accessibility information from the Brightspace by D2L Resource Library.
  • Provide accessible downloadable electronic documents, including syllabi (see information in next section).
  • Choose hyperlinks to external learning that support Section 508 compliance.
  • Discuss Section 508 compliance and equal access options with publishers, and request assistance from the Office of Educational Technology for any software decisions before purchasing.

Learn to create accessible electronic documents, emails and web content

  • Provide alternate text equivalents for all non-text content in web pages, emails and electronic documents.
  • Use styles for headings, lists and other structural features to facilitate keyboard and screen-reader navigation, a necessary option when jumping to specific content in text-heavy online course materials, downloadable documents and web pages.
  • Avoid reliance on color alone to convey meaning.
  • Ensure hyperlinks make sense out of context.
  • Design tables to organize tabular data in a meaningful order, and identify appropriate column and row headers.
  • Make your Word document accessible with help from Microsoft support.
  • Explore LinkedIn Learning (login required through MyCourses) to increase your knowledge of software features that improve accessibility.
  • Download the document checklist for accessibility (PDF).

Purchase compliant software and application development services