This page uses javascript to help render elements, if you have problems please enable javascript.
You are now inside the main content area


Why Is Accessibility Important for Student Success?

Identifying and removing learning barriers from courses, such as creating accessible course materials, supports the success of all students, not just those with disabilities. Below are top resources compiled by the FDC to get you started and learn more about accessibility.

Also, CSUF provides assistance to faculty in ensuring accessible course materials via a free service offered by Titan Accessible. They will fix accessibility issues (called remediation) for most course materials (e.g., documents/files, videos).

Providing Stable Links to Articles and Other Resources

Permalinks are a way to include permanent links to eBooks, streaming video, journal articles and other items in your courses (which can alleviate the need to scan documents or fix broken links). The Pollak Library Permalinks page explains how to find and use these links correctly.

Bulleted versus Numbered Lists

Using a bulleted list for unordered items and a numerical/alphabetical list for ordered items provides orienting information to screen reader users. When assistive technology encounters a properly marked up list, it will notify the user of the list and announce how many bullets or items are in the list. This List Orienting Information webpage from Deque University gives techincal details on this topic.

Use Accessibility Guides

Topical accessibility guides as well as accessibility guides specific to certain software products and are available through the FDC as follows:

Formatting Headings Correctly

Formatted document headings on written text are essential to students who use assistive technologies to navigate and read your content. This applies to PDFs, Word, Google Docs, Canvas, blogs, web pages, email, etc.

Without formatted headings, your written text comes across jumbled together and is difficult to navigate for those students. These headings also improve readability for everyone and save you time later when making style changes to your content. This tutorial demonstrates how to use and customize headings in Canvas.

It is important to plan your heading structure early to ensure all content and design fits into a logical structure. To read more about accessible headings visit the University of Minnesota's Accessible U Tutorial page.

Images Need Alternate Text

Meaningful images need alternate text (or alt text) to convey information. Screen reader programs cannot determine the meaning of images and depend on the alt text to make them accessible to users who are visually impaired. Decorative images can be marked as background or given an empty alt attribute for web pages. Visit WebAIM's Alt Text page for more information.

Making Font Choices for Digital Text

When you type digital content, such as documents or the text portion of presentations, or any other online learing the text choices you make can determine how easy it is for your students to read what you've typed.  A few important considerations:

  • Avoid using all caps. All caps can be difficult to read and can be read incorrectly by screen readers.
  • Font size can vary based on the font chosen, but 10 point is usually a minimum.

This video from NC State addresses how to make good font choices for digital text.

Consistent Layout, Navigation, and Reading Order

Consistent navigation and page layout allow abled and disabled people to navigate a document or website more quickly. Complex navigation because of inconsistent design makes it difficult and may cause frustration for all types of users. Read this article from the Bureau of Internet Accessibility titled Why Consistency is Important to Accessible Design for more information.

Set the Language of the Document

Assistive technology such as screen readers can read multiple languages. Identifying the language of the document will ensure that it will be read correctly to the user. In Microsoft Word, set the language by going to the Review menu and selecting the Language setting as shown in this video titled How to Change Microsoft Word 2010 Language.

Use Accessibility Checkers

In Canvas you can use the built-in accessibility checker. For more information, visit the Accessibility Checker Canvas Resource Center. You can also use Anthology Ally which CSUF implemented to   help faculty improve the accessibility of course documents . The main functions of Blackboard Ally are to:

  • automatically check course documents (NOT media) against WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards
  • provide students with accessible alternative formats, such as mp3 audio, electronic braille, HTML, ePub, and optical character recognition PDF
  • offer guidance to instructors on how to improve document accessibility

To learn more about Anthology Ally visit the Anthology Ally in the Canvas Resource Center. You can also view resources covering Ally Resources and Support for Faculty and Ally Help for Students.

Accessibility checkers such as the Adobe Accessibility Checker perform a thorough scan of the tags in a PDF for missing alt text and proper tagging of the headings, lists, tables, and links.

Sufficient Color Contrast

For individuals with visual disabilities, sufficient color contrast is vital to accessibility. Use an online color checker from a11y or an online color checker from Level Access to find the contrast ratio of two colors (usually the text and background colors).

Avoid Using Colors to Exclusively Convey Information

The use of colors only to convey meaning creates problems for people with low vision, color perception deficiencies, and color blindness. For accessibility, use:

  • Text with color such as, "select the green start button to begin reading the chapter and the red back button to go to the previous chapter"
  • Identifiers with colors such as adding an asterisk (*) to required fields
  • Patterns/textures with color on a graph
  • Shapes with colors such as a circle for green and a square for red

You can read more about this in this Use of Color article by W3C.

Enable Live Captions in Chrome

Captions make videos and audio files accessible. The Google Chrome browser can now caption audio and video by enabling “Live Captions.” To turn this setting on, update to the newest version of Chrome, go into Settings > Advanced > Accessibility > Live Captions. Chrome will automatically generate real-time captions for files on your computer hard drive as well as online content from social and video sites, podcasts and radio content, and most web-based video and audio. For more infomation watch this video titled Enable Live Caption in Google Chrome.

Make Data Tables Accessible

Data tables are used to organize information with a logical relationship in grids. Designate row and/or column headers by using a tag for data cells and a tag for table header cells. Assistive technologies use this information to provide context to users. Avoid using tables for page layout when possible. For information view this page on Creating Accessible Tables by WebAIM.

Use Descriptive Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks that open a web page should be descriptive to give users a general idea of the information on that page. Avoid using "Click Here" links because they do not convey any information of a web page. For more information, visit the descriptive hyperlinks page from W3C.

Additionally, differentiate links in the body of the page with underlines or something other than color alone. Most products do this automatically now, but it is a good thing to keep in mind.

Vendor Accessibility Statements

Best practices in online instruction (e.g., online teaching rubrics, such as  Quality Matters) recommend instructors to provide their online students with a list of vendor accessibility statements and support links for various technologies which students are required to use in a given course.

Cal State Fullerton instructors can link to this page of vendor accessiblity statements within their course or syllabus to provide students with those necessary resources.