Sharing What I Find

Instructional Design and Technology in Education

ID2ID Accessibility: Fact or fiction webinar notes

Presenter: Kelly Hermann, VP, Accessibility Strategy @ University of Phoenix

Five most common statements heard on the road

The vendor told me that the product was ADA compliant so I don’t need to worry about this one.


  • consider whom message is coming from
  • ADA compliant
    • no such thing as ADA compliant when talking about educational technology or digital environment – it depends and not specifics are given
  • Law says, all programs, courses, and activities must be accessible to individuals with disabilities
    • no standard to follow this law –  Section 508   is really related to Federal funds for procurement of software and other activities. Some states have adopted this standard as law
  • Best to follow Web Content Accessibility (WCAG) 2.0 AA. often cited in resolution agreements by both Civil Rights and Department of Justice. Most likely if you follow these guidelines, you’ll be ok. Always best to consult to your legal services

Every piece of content I want to share with students has to be accessible or I can’t use it.

Both fact and fiction!

  • Good to see you’re paying attention. Bad to be so passive aggressive!
  • Be proactive rather than reactive
    • doesn’t make sense not to make docs, videos, and audio files accessible while you’re developing a course.
  • Not all accessibilities are the same – not all blind students are alike, you may still have to make accommodations
  • Prioritize what content has to be accessible before a request is made and what can wait for a student request.
    • those things that take a long time to make accessible that will need to be modified at some point
    • These should alway be done: captions, transcripts, descriptive hyperlinks, accessible PDFs, alt text for images.
      • materials that aren’t your own – make good effort to to content copyright holder and ask them to caption it or let you caption it (or accessibility it)
        • ex. Amara to run video through another platform to add captions
        • video files need both captions and transcript

I should develop my content first and then worry about accessibility.


  • Less expensive (and stressful) to build as you go rather than retrofit
    • Videos – start with a script to be used as a transcription and captions
    • Text documents – use build-in features esp. style headings to make document navigable
    • Slides – use layout template to allow screen readers to read text from an outline view
  • Accessibility Checker (Microsoft)

My institute just bought (insert whatever accessibility tool’s name here). We’re all set and I don’t have to worry about accessibility anymore.


  • tools are helpful, but shouldn’t be seen as an overall strategy
    • garbage in, garbage out
  • does not account for varying degrees of usability and user experience

Access is an institutional responsibility and everyone has a role to play in removing barriers.


  • it is the law
  • law doesn’t distinguish between who does what or hot
  • when we create and share content with students we should make sure that it is accessible
  • it isn’t that hard to improve accessibility that requires fancy programs or skills
  • it just make sense and is helpful to all students

Actions you can take

  • create committee to tackle issues
    • develop policy for course development, lines of responsibility (include procurement activities)
  • start a training program, find resources to supplement your expertise
  • ask your students – what works for them, draw on their experiences and ask them to share both formally and informally
  • develop a communication plan to raise awareness and point folks to resources.
    • get DS to share data to faculty and institution

Active learning is often hard to make accessible

  • might have to think about what we did before technology entered into our world.
  • Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality issues
    • what is the typical experience
      • if I can’t see, what will I miss? If I can’t hear, what will I miss? If my brain doesn’t keep up or if I need to a repeat, what will I miss?
  • What is the learning objective — what outcome are you expecting – what are you hoping will come out of the activity or what will it do.
  • What will it help that student learn
  • Consider something as equitable vs. quality

Look at accessibility as a chance to be creative or a challenge, not as a burden!



Author: Heidi Olson

Heidi enjoys working with content experts in developing eCampus courses to provide alternatives for students. Her other interests include faculty training in best practices for eCampus and researching eCampus tools to help fulfill learning outcomes. Having worked in the distance education arena for over 20 years, she has a wide range of experiences in supporting students and faculty as technology and pedagogy evolve.

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