Panel Presentation Summaries

Promising Practices for Making Online Learning Accessible to All Students and Instructors, Including Those with Disabilities

Canvas Accessibility Checklist

Ana Thompson, University of Washington, Bothell

All students need to be able to access the same course content to achieve success. Access issues can occur while interacting with the physical infrastructure, the digital infrastructure, teaching methods, and the course content itself.

On our branch campus, we created a checklist to help content developers and instructors make sure their content is as accessible as possible, including using the Ally accessibility tool with Canvas.

This checklist covers creating and/or remediating accessible PDFs and Microsoft Office documents, captioning videos, and making sure images have alt text. It also covers how to make sure your Canvas webpage itself is accessible, how to use accessible navigation, as well as how to use the broken link checker. It includes resources on accessible teaching practices and a variety of other accessibility topics.

Accessibility at Tacoma Community College

Aaron Tran, Tacoma Community College

At Tacoma Community College, we have over 11,000 students. Our goal is for 100% of our students to feel included and welcomed at our institution. We have a very specific accessibility policy at our institution, and encourage all faculty to follow this policy. We use Ally as a tool for getting quick accessibility results in Canvas, but it is not the end-all-be-all for accessibility. We make accessibility a collaborative process, so all faculty can engage with multiple resources. We incentivize and gamify making courses accessible and promote using these tools within departments and classes. We assign different point values on an accessibility checklist in Canvas—for example, 25 points for all videos captioned, or 25 points for all accessible PDFs. Many professors are coming to our team to get help in making their courses more accessible to students with disabilities as well as from mobile devices.

UW Captioning Service

Doug Hayman, University of Washington

Many videos on our campuses are captioned only as an accommodation for a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, even though captions benefit many others, including English language learners, those with reading-related disabilities, and individuals who simply want to see the spelling of words spoken in the presentation. The ATS secured central funding, for this effort, justifying it as promoting a best practice in education as well as helping the campus meet its legal obligations.

Our ATS Free Captioning Service promotes proactive captioning of a limited number of high impact videos on campus, especially those that have a large viewing audience, many of which are seen by multiple classes. We also spend time looking through YouTube channels of UW departments to locate departments that need help getting their videos captioned accurately. By offering free captioning, the ATS is increasing the number of videos captioned on campus, educating stakeholders, and raising awareness of the importance of captioning and processes for adding captions to videos.

This service has worked on hundreds of hours of video content across the University

Question and Answer

What accessibility issues are you running into with virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR)?
VR and AR are quite new to the campus. We have one person on our team who specializes in VR and AR  accessibility. This colleague uploads the code using Zapper, which helps students with audio and/or visual disabilities access the same information.

How do you scout out different department’s uncaptioned videos?
Terrill Thompson created our YouTube Caption Auditor. Once we find the UW channels, we can run the auditor. It will show us which videos don’t have captions or are only using the automated captions. We may be able to share the Auditor with other campuses.

What is better for technology accessibility testing—in-house or out-of-house, and what sort of resources and trainings are available?
We struggle with getting companies to improve the accessibility of their software. Sometimes it can be easier to reach out to other users and find out about accessibility through crowdsourcing or posting a question on a discussion list such as ATHEN. Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs) required by federal agencies can be useful as well as company websites (check if they have accessibility pages). It can also be helpful to have companies sign a pledge as part of the contract to say they are responsible for the accessibility of their products (pointing to your policy/guidelines) and will continue to make their products more accessible. Just having an outside consultant tell you that your technology is inaccessible may have little value if you do not have plans for improving the accessibility of the products. Even after a short time the accessibility reviews will be out of date.