Accessibility is frequently the last thing course and website developers want to think about when creating an online content. There is extra time involved up front, but it can help prevent problems down the line. I think most of us in higher education care about all students and want to help them to our best ability. There are also laws protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities to have access to programs and services that institutions of higher education offer. Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 says that public institutions receiving federal funds, this includes student financial aid, need to ensure that people with disabilities can participate in programs & activities and have the same benefits that people without disabilities have. It requires academic adjustments and accommodation to ensure full participation. Section 508 is an amendment that requires electronic information and technology, such as websites and online courses be accessible. The American with Disabilities Act of 1990 expands the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to private as well as public institutions of higher education. The newest is The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. It requires modern communications to be accessible to people with disabilities. This includes VOIP services, electronic messaging, video conferencing, video communications and mobile browsers.
One only needs to search Google to find names of institutions of higher education that have been sued for not having accessible online content and services. When we design accessibly from the start, we can attract a wider audience to our product or service, and protect our institutions from losing time and money in a future lawsuit.
I’m writing this book to help faculty and online site developers learn about best practices for designing and developing online content. Some of the instructions for document accessibility are based off of Office 2016, rather than Office 365 in browser apps. The menus should be similar.
This book is currently under development. So, please check regularly to see updates.
Thank you for your interest in making your content accessible and for caring about others!