Most of the tips provided are web content standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium. For more information, review their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
When possible, use HTML topics to create your unit content. TAFE Queensland has accessible HTML templates to streamline the content creation process. If you need to use other file formats, such as video files, choose formats that are recognized by most
browsers or offer the material in multiple formats.
Use a simple layout that does not use tables or columns to organise information. When information is organised simply, it is easier for students to read and understand. Simple layout is also easier for assistive technology devices to interpret and present,
and for mobile and handheld devices to resize.
Use headings to communicate the relationships between sections. Use Heading 1 for the title, Heading 2 for major sections, Heading 3 for subsections, and so on. If headings are used correctly, screen reader users can quickly search a page by heading and
participants with cognitive disabilities can understand how sections and content relate easier.
Make sure each heading, item, and file name are unique.
Include a table of contents that links to each section. Ensure that there are Back to top links at the end of each section for longer documents.
Include alternative text descriptions (alt text) for all graphics. Use double quotes (null) as the alt text if the object is a decorative element that does not add meaning to the topic. If the graphic is a link, begin the alt text with "Link to". The
HTML Editor in Connect automatically prompts you to include alt text when you insert an image.
Include detailed captions below tables and graphs. These captions should explain what information the objects convey, including important trends and statistics. For tables, include a caption using the caption element that explains how the table is organised.
Check that tables make sense when read from left to right. Screen readers often have difficulty conveying information that reads from top to bottom.
Use the same text on-screen and in the alt text for links. Make sure that the text describes the action that will occur when you click the link. Do not use text such as Click Here as the link. Screen readers often use a list of links to quickly navigate
actions on a page. This is not possible if links are not descriptive.
Include text alternatives of multimedia content, such as audio or video files. If you do not have the time to create a complete text alternative, include a descriptive label that summarizes the content.
Do not use blinking or flashing multimedia, as it can cause seizures in individuals with photo-sensitivity. Use animation when it helps convey a concept, and not to draw attention to an unchanging object. Use a combination of color, size, and prominence
to draw attention to objects.
Do not use color to convey meaning. If you want to show how concepts relate to each other, use a combination of size, color, and text labels.
Ensure that there is a strong contrast between the text and the background colors in your unit materials.
Use relative font sizes and make sure that the text and page layout adjusts when a user changes the font sizes. Users should not have to scroll horizontally.
If you use PDF files for content, scan them with optical character recognition (OCR) to the text can be read by screen readers. Scan pages with multiple columns one column at a time so that the optical character recognition functions as expected. Add
bookmarks for major sections to make the content easier to navigate.
If you create PDF files from Microsoft Word or another word processor, format titles and sections using heading so they are correctly tagged in the PDF.
If learners use text-to-speech software to read text aloud or highlight text as they go through it, test the software to ensure it functions correctly for specific tools and settings that you want to use. For example, if you turn off right-click in quizzes,
it can prevent some text-to-speech software from tracking text.
An accessibility checker is now available within the HTML Editor for use within Content, Quizzes, Assignments, Calendar, Assignments, and any other tools where you can access the HTML Editor.
The accessibility checker is available on the HTML Editor bar. After you add content to the HTML Editor, you can click the checker to ensure that the HTML page meets conformance to WCAG and Section 508 accessibility standards.
The accessibility checker reviews content for the use of the following items:
Use of paragraphs as headings
Ordered list structure
Unordered list structure
Contrast ratio of text to background colors
Image ALT text
ALT text filename
Complex table summary
Table caption and summary
Table heading scope, markup, and headers
The checker indicates if the content is free of accessibility issues, or offers suggestions to fix them.
Note that the accessibility checker does not check multiple files at the same time and does not check files that you have imported into a unit. Also be aware that the accessibility checker is only available for HTML files in the HTML Editor tool; it cannot
be used to check any other file type, such as MS Word, PDF, PowerPoint, and so on.
The accessibility checker gives you a way to ensure that the content you author in the HTML Editor conforms to WCAG and Section 508 accessibility standards. The accessibility checker is available within the HTML Editor for use within Content, Quizzes,
Assignments, Calendar, Assignments, Discussions and any other tools where a user can access the HTML Editor.
Enter HTML content in the HTML Editor.
Click to start the checker.
If there are any compliance issues, read the report for suggestions on how to fix the issue.
For many students, an online unit marks a big change from a traditional classroom. This change can be even more challenging for students with physical or learning disabilities, as they can feel disconnected from their educator and other support systems.
Connect provides learning designers and educators with flexibility in how they set up and organise content, however it can still be daunting for students who rely on assistive technologies to navigate Connect, find unit materials, and find
and complete assignments.
To help your students effectively use your online unit, consider the following design guidelines:
Create a news topic on Unit Home that introduces yourself (the educator) and any teaching assistants. Include contact information and encourage students to contact you if they have concerns, questions, or additional needs.
Include your unit study guide as a news topic, or provide a link in a news item to your Overview on the Unit Home. If possible, make each item in the syllabus a Quicklink to the actual item in your unit. Quicklinks provide a navigation shortcut to important
content and helps students with learning disabilities clearly see how unit content relates to unit expectations.
Include an Announcements topic on the Unit Home that highlights some of the personal tools available to students, such as Preferences and Class Progress.
Build redundancy into your unit by repeating unit information within different tools. For example, you can include all unit study guide information in the unit calendar, and include information on how much a quiz, discussion topic, or assignment is worth
in the description of the syllabus entry for the content item. When unit expectations are clearly communicated in the unit design, students can focus on learning content.
Set up a clear hierarchy in your unit content using enumerations. In Content settings, set up enumerations so that the unit structure is easier to navigate for users of screen readers and students with learning disabilities.
In some cases, unit designers may put users with learning and physical disabilities at a disadvantage without intending to. Usually, disadvantages result from users not having enough time to complete tasks or not having appropriately designed resources.
Consider using the following best practices to organise unit materials:
To encourage user participation and reflection, use Discussions instead of instant messaging tools. Instant Messaging can be difficult for users with visual, motor, or learning disabilities because they require users to quickly process and respond to
information, using technology that doesn't match their needs. Discussions areas give all users time to reflect. If you use instant messaging, be aware that some users may need an alternative solution such as phone or face-to-face contact.
Also consider how accessible the instant messaging interface is for the tool you are using. The D2L Instant Messages tool is specifically designed to be accessible by keyboard and screen readers.
Provide readings and assignments well in advance of deadlines so users can work ahead and prepare. Many students need the time to organise extra help and to read through the content more than one time. Use conditional release settings to release unit
content by module, and make sure you provide enough time to complete each component.
Be aware of the limitations that timed examinations place on students. Traditional examinations usually have a time limit in which students must prepare their responses. This can be difficult for students with learning or physical disabilities as they
often need more time to articulate or record their responses. Consider whether strict time limits are necessary for your unit material. If time limits are required, ensure that students are aware that they can request extra time.
To improve student engagement, one of the most effective unit design decisions you can make is to offer unit materials and assignments that appeal to more than one sense. For example, the same material can have an audio, video, and text component. This
type of redundancy helps engage students with different learning types, reinforces important concepts, and ensures that users with physical disabilities can access content in a suitable format. Consider adopting the following best practices:
Use Content for readings and unit material. It is easier for assistive technologies to interpret HTML code than application-based files such as Microsoft Word. When creating HTML content, follow web content accessibility standards.
If you are scanning documents to use as unit content or using PDF files, use optical character recognition (OCR) to ensure that documents with text can be read by screen readers. Also consider adding tags to your documents to ensure that screen readers
can navigate more easily. For more information about PDF accessibility, see http://webaim.org/techniques/acrobat.
If your readings and lecture materials contain many graphics, tables, videos, or audio recordings, provide a text-only alternative. Text-only material should supplement, not replace, other delivery methods. Videos, graphics, and audio files area great
way to generate interest in a topic, present material from different perspectives, and help students with learning disabilities through redundancy. Make the text-only alternatives easy to compile for print so that all the students can
use them as study aids.
Allow students to demonstrate learning through different assignments associated with the same grade item. For example, students might have the option of a written reflection, a recorded interview, or a slide show presentation.
Set up your discussion areas to encourage peer-to-peer support. Regularly review information in the forums and adjust your content according to the needs of the group.
Use the Equation Editor in combination with written descriptions of mathematical formulas. Although the Equation Editor supports accessible equations through MathML, these standards are not supported by all browsers or assistive technologies. Written
descriptions help all students interpret what they need to complete the equation.
Use a vertical layout for quizzes so that only one answer or concept appears on each line. Screen readers more easily interpret the order of the material, so most students can more quickly interpret their options. A vertical layout also reduces formatting
issues when a student adjusts text sizes.
Do not convert Microsoft PowerPoint presentations to images if you have any visually impaired students. Screen readers are not able to read the content of the images, and learners are not able to resize the text or graphics. PowerPoint slides are converted
by default; on the Create File Resource pop-up page you need to turn off the Convert Word documents to HTML and PowerPoint slides to images option. As an alternative, you can make it easy
for learners to request copies of the original content, and the learners can adjust and print them.