Distance Learning: A Case Study on the Accessibility of an Online Course

DO-IT Factsheet #237
http://www.washington.edu/doit/Stem/articles?237

Background

My name is Maria and I am a distance learning instructor at a community college. A student who is blind enrolled in my course and told me that some of the content was inaccessible.

Access Issue

Specifically, the student pointed out that some course content was embedded in graphics images that she could not access using her text-to-speech system.

Solution

I added text descriptions for all of the graphics images in my course.

Conclusions

This case demonstrates the following:

  1. A student who is blind and using a speech output system cannot access content embedded in graphics unless text alternatives are provided.
  2. It is easy to provide text descriptions of the graphic content.
  3. The need for making accommodations for a specific student can be minimized if accessible design principles are employed when the course is being developed.
  4. Incorporating accessibility features when a course is being developed avoids the hassle of quickly making adaptations for a specific student.