Disability Support FAQs are here to help you find the answers to the most common questions regarding serving students with disabilities.
What is Accessibility?
Accessibility, as far as students with disabilities is concerned, is creating course content and environments that can be easily understood and interacted with by students, regardless of disability.
Why be Concerned with Accessibility?
Accessibility is the responsibility of all parties at OTC. We ask faculty and staff to partner with Disability Support by helping ensure course material is created in formats that best suit student needs. We ask students to participate by self-advocating and letting faculty and staff know what they need, before or as they need it.
Online videos have proven to be a powerful tool in conveying content and enhancing student learning. However, some students may miss content due to disability, such as being deaf or hard of hearing. To help ensure these students have the best possible chance at success in the classroom, OTC strives for a 100% closed captioning rate for course material. This means we work to provide closed captioning on every video used for course material. OTC also works to provide captioning at the highest possible standard, meaning captions are;
1) Properly placed
3) Properly synced and ordered
4) Include nonverbal sound effects such as music, off screen sounds and speakers tone.
Our goal is not to over-burden faculty and staff, but to provide equal access to students. We encourage instructors to use whatever tools they think best convey their course information. Captioning can be done quickly and easily using a variety of tools and services. Instructors who require help are encouraged to contact Disability Support Services or OTC Online for more guidance and resources.
In the same way that closed captioning provides access to audio material for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, alt text provides access to visual material for students with visual disabilities. Students with visual disabilities often use text to speech software, referred to as “screen readers” to access digital material. These programs do an excellent job of reading text and identifying online elements when tagged properly. However, this software is limited in its ability to recognize the contents of an image.
Alt Text should convey the material present in the image, including any text, color, objects, or locations of what the image is trying to portray, being as specific as possible. Alt text is different from an image caption in that it is only accessed by screen reading software. Canvas requires images to be identified with alt text or declared as descriptive before being posted to course content. For more information please check out this Alt Text Tutorial or contact OTC Online for training and resource.
Hyperlinks are another concern for those students who require screen readers to navigate the internet. Screen readers traditionally read hyperlinks as “link” followed by the text present. Text like “Click Here” should be avoided, as well as simple pasting a full link as they can cause confusion. It is best to simply state the location on the link, and hyperlink that text.
Example: Visit Disability Support Services for more information concerning accommodations.
Contrast & Fonts
Guidelines concerning fonts and contrast are just that, guidelines. Accessible font and contrast design can ease eye strain while using the computer, helping students with a multitude of disabilities. Canvas has a built an Accessibility Checker that is available to instructors as they create content that can check their Canvas site for contrast issues, but OTC’s general practice can be found below.
1) Information is best presented in high contrast. I.e. Dark text on a light background.
2) 12pt font is good, but 14pt font is better.
3) Fonts should be simple sans serif style like Arial, Helvetica, Lucida Sans, Tahoma, Verdana or similar.
Accessible Documents (PDF)
In order to be considered accessible, PDF’s first go through a process called OCR (Optical Character Recognition). Pages that have simply been scanned and uploaded are not compatible with screen readers and will often return with an audio output of “blank”. The fastest and simplest way to create an accessible PDF is to first create the content digitally using Word, PowerPoint or similar products and then performing a “Save As” and selecting PDF. This automatically creates an accessible copy and will often solve many issues with inaccessible content.
If you do not have access to the material in its original electronic format or if it is not feasible to recreate it, please contact Corey Charle’ for assistance or more options.
Where Can I Learn More?
Besides contacting Disability Support or OTC Online, instructors and content creators can learn more about accessibility by exploring the WCAG 2.0 Quick Reference published by the World Wide Web Consortium, who help set international standards for the internet.
Instructors are also welcome to search Canvas commons for courses on accessibility. Many of these courses are self-paced and can provide a better understanding why accessibility and universal design are so important, as well as how-to training for providing content. OTC Online recommends “Accessibility 101: Principles of Accessible Design” by Jess Thompson, Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges.