Preparing for an Accessible Semester: Where to Start
Are you a faculty member wondering how to make your course accessible? Knowing where to start can be overwhelming. First, look at what’s in your course. Check course pages, documents, videos, and third-party links. Identify what needs to be accessible.
Steps to Follow for Preparing an Accessible Semester
After checking your course, follow these steps:
- Follow Rules: Use WCAG, Section 508, and PDF/UA guidelines. Make sure all content, not just course pages, is accessible.
- Learn Tools: Understand your tools like MS Word, PowerPoint, and PDF. They have different accessibility needs.
- Use Closed Captioning: Videos need captions. Otter AI can help generate SRT files for this.
- Test Content: Use screen readers like NVDA to test your content. Make sure it reads well.
- Get Feedback: Contact accessibility pros to check your work. Adjust your course based on their feedback.
- Keep Updating: Don’t stop after initial fixes. Keep your course updated to stay accessible.
Step 1: Understand the Rules
Familiarize yourself with important guidelines and standards. These include the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and PDF/UA standards. These rules apply to every part of your course, not just the web pages.
Step 2: Master Your Tools
Before diving into making changes, understand the specific accessibility features and requirements of the tools you’re using. Software like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Adobe PDF have unique accessibility settings. Learning these will help you effectively use each tool to its full accessibility potential.
Step 3: Closed Captioning
All videos in your course should have closed captions. There are various tools that can help you create these captions. For instance, Otter AI can generate SRT files, which can be used for adding captions to your videos.
Step 4: Testing
Testing is crucial. Use assistive technologies like screen readers to test your content. NVDA is a free screen reader for Windows that can be used for this purpose. This will give you insights into how accessible your content is.
Step 5: Seek Expert Feedback
After you’ve made the necessary adjustments, consult with accessibility experts. This can help you validate the changes you’ve made and ensure you didn’t overlook anything.
Step 6: Continual Updates
Accessibility is not a one-time task. After your course is up and running, it requires ongoing checks and updates to ensure it remains accessible.
If you have a large number of videos, focus on captioning new ones first. Gradually work your way back to older content as time allows.
Bonus Tip: Monitor Your Progress
Keep an eye on the accessibility of your course. New tools and best practices emerge regularly. Staying updated will help you continue to provide an accessible learning environment.
Creating an accessible course is an ongoing responsibility. But the effort you put in ensures that everyone, regardless of their abilities, has an equal opportunity to learn.
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