How to Get Started
Don’t try to do Everything
I have so many materials, I can't possibly...
Start with Headings
People ask what is most important when making content accessible. If you do one thing,
give your documents and pages structure with headings. Every time you revise a document,
give it headings. This should only take an extra 30 seconds/minute to highlight text
and click the correct heading. When you create new documents, use headings. Better
yet, create a few templates so you can just copy and paste proper formatting in and
then add your text. Here are a couple:
You know your content better than anyone. If your materials are image heavy - tackle
adding alt text to your images. If you use a lot of videos, begin by captioning those
videos. If all of your materials come from a publisher or 3rd party - contact them
and ask about the measures they take to ensure their materials are accessible.
Implement Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
Faculty often ask how to implement UDL without creating a second set of course materials
and assignments. Chances are you won't "UDL-ize" your class overnight. Here are some
simple steps to incorporating UDL principles in your class:
- Add graphics or images to supplement text.
- If multiple choice quizzes/exams dominate your assignments, replace some quizzes with
discussion boards and short writing assignments. OR add in some matching and short
answer quiz questions.
- Give people choices for how to complete an activity/meet an objective. Give 2 - 3
different options for topics to research/write about.
- Sick of grading papers? Let them choose the format (just be sure to give them a clear
grading rubric from the start). You might be amazed at what they submit!
- No time to find extra videos, images, websites, etc? Let students/participants track
down and share resources they've found for extra credit.
Ignore Old Stuff
- Faculty often have hundreds of materials that were used once and never again. Those
materials should remain in folders - in their inaccessible formats. Don't spend time
making content you won't use again accessible. Focus on what you are using now, and
what you create in the future.
- If will be adopting a new textbook next term, use your time and energy to make your
new/updated/revised course materials accessible (unless you currently have a student
with a disability). Be strategic. Focus on one piece at a time. Don't let yourself
I don’t have time. No one is paying me to do this
- A common reaction. Guess what? You probably never asked to be given release time to
find un-captioned videos - you were probably excited to add videos to your course/presentation
and spent time during the evenings and weekends finding videos because you are committed
to producing high quality material.
- You probably never asked to be paid extra to add pictures to your Canvas pages and
use colored fonts, but you did it because you thought it looked nice and would make
for a more enjoyable experience for your audience.
- Making your content accessible will save you time, myou a better teacher and presenter
- meaning viewers/users/students will learn more effectively and efficiently, which
usually means you receive fewer questions and requests for clarification.
Put Pressure on Publishers
- If you really don't have the time to do this work, then don't use and require students
to buy inaccessible content.
- You often have a choice in what materials to use - put pressure on publishers and
refuse to use their materials unless they are accessible.
- There are laws in place that ensure students with disabilities have access to materials.
There are no laws in place protecting you from an OCR complaint should you choose
to require inaccessible materials (the liability is on you/the college, not the publisher).
- Academic freedom is not an excuse and will not hold up when dealing with the Department
of Justice or the Office of Civil Rights.