Thirsty for a Strong Instructional Practice?
As creators of instructional content and designers of meaningful online learning experiences, establishing a consistent process for ensuring accessibility isn’t easy. At some point, we all encounter moments when we sacrifice universal accessibility for the sake of just getting things done. Beyond saving time, as humans, we’re also just inherently subjective. It’s difficult to conceive of the variety of perspectives that may exist beyond our own. As educators focused on accessibility, we are constantly fighting the arrow of time, as well as our own biology.
Take a SIP of This: Ensuring Online Accessibility: Three Best Practices
Focusing on accessibility and striving for universal design doesn’t have to be an anxiety-inducing practice. While we do have to establish intentional strategies and practices, once we do, ensuring online accessibility becomes second nature instead of an uncomfortable current we’re constantly fighting against. In looking to develop your own unique set of strategies, consider the following best practices:
- Best Practice #1: Utilize the overlooked tools that already exist. When creating content online, use the established formatting tools within your content editor (e.g. header presets — H1, H2, etc.), and provide alternative text for all images. This option is almost always available when embedding images into our online instruction, but all too often gets ignored.
- Best Practice #2: Ensure that all links make sense out of context. Every link should make sense if the link text were to be read by itself. Phrases like “click here” and “more” are ubiquitous across the web, but should be avoided when designing instructional material.
- Best Practice #3: Captions and/or transcripts should accompany all video and audio content. If this isn’t an option, then explore alternative means for conveying the information. If the video/audio is critical, then it’s time to get creative. How about using Google Voice Typing to quickly generate a transcript?
Still Thirsty? Take Another SIP of Ensuring Online Accessibility
- Utilize a checklist or reference guide to ensure accessibility, such as the Department of Health and Human Service’s Section 508 accessibility checklist
- Use an accessibility evaluation tool, such as Wave, to evaluate your websites and online content
- Use browser plugins to simulate impairments, such as the No Coffee vision simulator for Chrome
- WebAIM is one of the leading providers of accessibility expertise
- The Educational Technology Center (ETC) on campus is a fabulous resource! Make an appointment or visit during drop-in hours for information on accessible materials.
- When in doubt about the need for or means of providing accessibility, contact the MSU Denver Access Center!