How can I get started in making my distance learning course accessible to all students?
Be proactive in making distance learning courses accessible. Don't wait until someone with a disability enrolls to address accessibility issues; consider them from the start. Applying universal design principles benefits people both with and without disabilities.
- Think about the wide range of abilities and disabilities potential students might have.
- In promotional publications, include information on how to request accommodations and publications in alternative formats.
- Arrange accessible facilities for any on-site instruction.
- Make sure media can be accessed with sight or hearing alone.
- Be prepared to offer additional accommodations as requested.
Distance learning program administrators should adopt and enforce accessibility standards or guidelines (e.g., the Section 508 or W3C standards for web accessibility) for their course materials and strategies. They should also establish procedures for students with disabilities to request and receive accommodations. Administrators should provide information about standards, training, and support to key staff. Course developers should use the accessibility features of development tools they use (e.g., Blackboard™ ) and avoid including design features that are inaccessible to students with disabilities. Standards, procedures, and support issues should be reviewed and updated periodically.
For more information, consult Real Connections: Making Distance Learning Accessible to Everyone and IMS Guidelines for Developing Accessible Learning Applications.