Students are in need of more accessible course offerings. If your institution doesn’t make your content accessible to students with disabilities, you may be susceptible to legal action. Although the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not provide specific standards for course content accessibility, it remains a federal requirement to be in compliance to those with disabilities.

“Institutions that have an accessibility policy and dedicated resources, and who are acting in good faith are less likely to be sued. Institutions that are not implementing policy are vulnerable.” – Eve Hill, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice

We’ve compiled 6 accessibility resources below to help you stay ahead of compliance with Section 508, despite the current refresh to the policy that may cause some hiccups.

  1. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 – Covers a wide range of recommendations for making web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, cognitive limitations, and others.
  2. Universal Design for Learning Series – Offered by the National Center on Universal Design for Learning (UDL), the UDL Series provides web-based rich media presentations and resources to increase understanding of the UDL framework, enhance utilization of UDL tools, processes, and resources, support effective UDL implementation, and inform UDL advocates, families, and communities about professional development and policy initiatives.
  3. CAST – A nonprofit education research and development organization that works to expand learning opportunities for all individuals through Universal Design for Learning. CAST pledges to work to understand the full extent of human learner variability and to find transformative approaches that make education more effective for all.
  4. Quality Matters – A faculty-centered, peer review process that’s designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses. Submit a course for review and receive feedback.
  5. Section508.gov’s list of Accessibility Programs in the Academic Community – A list of institutions offering a wide array of expertise and opportunity for enhancing the implementation of Section 508.
  6. The National Center on Disability and Access to Education – Addresses issues of technology and disability in education policies and practices to enhance the lives of people with disabilities and their families.

We here at Blackboard offer valuable resources, too. In fact, we have a section of our Help Center devoted to Accessibility. Are you in need for more than just great web accessibility resources? Our Accessibility Consultants are ready to partner with you to develop, review, or refine online accessibility strategy and content. You can contact us here and/or connect with me directly on LinkedIn. While legal frameworks are an effective mechanism for establishing change in our industry – let’s not forget that our primary motivation is the students themselves. When we build accessibility into the learning environment, everyone benefits.

 

Playbook: Is your higher education institution accessible for all?

 

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  • Gal A.

    You are so right! We still have a long way to go to break the technological wall. Fortunately the web accessibility world has made huge strides in bettering our access.

    Take User1st for example (www.user1st.com) They have uncovered breakthrough technology by creating an overlay which does not change the original code of the website and is cost effective.

    My sincere thanks to all those bettering our worlds accessible user experience!