The growth in online enrollments is now outpacing the growth of traditional enrollments. The 2013 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group reveals that the number of higher education students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 7.1 million (http://www.onlinelearningsurvey.com/highered.html). With the advent of online instruction at the postsecondary level, people with different levels of ability are taking online courses. All online courses should be designed from the beginning with accessibility in mind.
Take a SIP of This: Accessible Documents
- Microsoft PowerPoint is not always accessible, especially for individuals using text-to-speech software. Many researchers recommend encoding all information into HTML format, which is more accessible. However, not everyone can do this. An alternative is to convert the information into MS Word. If your PowerPoint contains visual information be sure to add descriptors.
- Scanned documents must be run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. OCR is the translation of scanned images of text to the text itself. By applying OCR to a PDF, we take the image of the text and make it searchable, editable, compatible, and accessible to people who use text-to-speech devices. Adobe Pro has this capability (the free version does not). However, faculty members at MSU Denver can request Adobe Pro be installed on their office computers for free. Documents that run through OCR software are cleaner and easier to read for everyone. For more information see this site: https://acrobat.adobe.com/us/en/how-to/ocr-software-convert-pdf-to-text.html
- Remember that all video and audio must be captioned. The Educational Technology Center on campus will arrange for any videos (even YouTube videos) and audio files to be captioned. In addition, if important information cannot be gleaned by just listening to the sound, audio descriptions will need to be added. Videos with flashing lights, rapid movement can be problematic for those with epilepsy. For more information and assistance with adapting video and audio to meet the needs of your students, please see the Educational Technology Center website: https://www.msudenver.edu/etc/
- If you are using chatrooms in your course, using a moderator can slow down the generally rapid pace. Another option is to provide transcripts for students who may not be able to participate due to a disability, or use the Forum Discussion option instead of chatrooms.