Topic outline

  • General

    Course completion badgeAs online learning has become mainstream, more students with disabilities are enrolling in online courses. This course will discuss challenges these students face, analyze assistive technologies, and explore ways to make your course more accessible. The relationship between the Americans with Disabilities (508) and Web-based learning will be synthesized for your own online courses

    The course is divided into four Levels for a total of 11 CPE hours upon course completion.

    *This course was originally written for the Information Technology Technical Assistance and Training Center, funded in support of Section 508 by NIDRR and GSA at Georgia Institute of Technology, Center for Rehabilitation Technology. It has been completely revised. http://jimthatcher.com/webcourse1.htm

    • Level 1: An Introduction to Accessibility

      As common technical and physical barriers are removed, or at least lowered, people are turning towards designing courses so that students with the widest range of abilities and social circumstances can participate successfully.

      Level 1 badge - 3 CPE hours credit at completion

      In order to understand the adjustments that are needed to make online learning accessible, it is important for you to know what tools disabled students are likely to be using.

      It is a fact of life that even in the most carefully designed course, not all students engage with the material in the same way. This may be because of differences in learning styles or it may be because of a disability.

      The key is to take a learner-centered approach: "You cannot expect to always meet all the needs of every learner, but reasonable steps can be taken to ensure the widest participation."

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    • Level 2: Perceivable & Understandable

      As you are developing your online course and/or a Web page that will be used by your students you will want to be aware of the Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 standards but we are going to focus on the WCAG standards. More specifically we will explore principles 1 and 3 of the WCAG standards for this module.Leve 2 badge - CPE credit hours upon level completion

      The Internet has been described as the great equalizer because it allows people with disabilities to access materials on the Web without others “seeing” their disability. When you are teaching face-to-face, a student’s disability may be more obvious to you. For example, a student with a hearing impairment may come to class with an interpreter. A student who has a visual impairment may be accompanied by a seeing-eye dog. However, in the online environment, a student’s disability may not be as obvious. There are also some individuals with disabilities, such as a learning disability, that may not be obvious in either the face-to-face or the online environment. A student with this type of disability may have difficulty if materials are not well organized in either learning environment.

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    • Level 3: Operable

      In this module, we examine in more detail the design decisions that affect accessibility for different groups of disabled students. The module will help you to create accessible resources. Specially we will look to:Level 3 badge - 2 CPE hours credit for completion of level

      • Make all functionality keyboard accessible.
      • Give users enough time to read and use content.
      • Do not use content that causes seizures.
      • Help users navigate and find content.

      We introduce the process of including accessibility considerations in the specification of online learning resources.

      Even if you are not the person who actually implements the design or writes the code for a course resource such as a website, it is useful to understand the requirements of different users and the implications of these for the designer or programmer. If you are able to construct your specification with a clear understanding of what is reasonable, you will have a more satisfactory ‘product’. It is also cheaper to get accessibility requirements included at the specification stage than it is to fix them when a disabled student registers for a course and the designer or programmer has moved on. If there is no more funding for further development, an inaccessible resource will remain a barrier to disabled students.

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    • Level 4: Assessing and Action

      When developing or redesigning a site, evaluating accessibility early and throughout the development process can identify accessibility problems early when it is easier to address them. Simple techniques such as changing settings in a browser can determine if a Web page meets some accessibility guidelines. A comprehensive evaluation to determine if a site meets all accessibility guidelines is much more complex.Level 1 badge - 3 CPE hours credit at completion

      Accessibility can be evaluated in different ways.

      1. Testing with disabled users.
      2. Testing by accessibility experts.
      3. Assessing conformance to checklists/guidelines, including the use of automated checkers.
      4. Testing with assistive technologies.

      There are evaluation tools that help with evaluation. However, no tool alone can determine if a site meets accessibility guidelines. Knowledgeable human evaluation is required to determine if a site is accessible.

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    • Resources

      We have prepared this listing of resources to help you dig deeper in your exploration. Look over this list, and you will find organizations that provide information, referral, and/or direct services. Browse for resources that seem appropriate to your needs.

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