Winthrop University: Online Learning - Accessibility Information for Instructors

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Accessibility Guidelines 

Accessibility Information for Instructors

All digital instructional materials (e.g., syllabi, presentations, handouts, and multimedia) and digital documents (e.g., PDFs, PowerPoints, and Word Docs) used in Winthrop University courses must be accessible for all users. To be considered accessible, your materials must meet the guidelines outlined on this page.

Use the menu below to navigate through these guidelines. Clicking on a tab will reveal additional information.  You can also click on an opened tab to close it again.

If you have questions or would like additional accessibility support, contact Winthrop University's Office of Accessibility at 803/323-3290 (V/TDD) or review Winthrop University's Accommodations and Services for Students with Disabilities policy.

Should you require assistance creating accessible digital materials, please contact Winthrop University's Office of Online Learning at 803/323-2212 or blackboard@winthrop.edu. You can also browse the Center for Professional Excellence for professional development sessions.

 

    Blackboard Ally scans documents (Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft PowerPoint) on your course content area pages and provides them with an accessibility rating.  Instructions for updating documents to meet accessibility standards are provided alongside each rating.  Alternative formats for each document are automatically generated and provided by Ally.  

    Contact the Office of Online Learning to enable Ally in your course at instructionaldesign@winthrop.edu.

    Overview of Blackboard Ally (Video)

    Using Blackboard Ally (Video)

      When creating accessible content in Blackboard, you should use a Heading Structure whenever possible. A Heading Structure is used to chunk information, organize it, indicate a hierarchy of ideas, and enhance page navigation. Think of it as a formal outline that persists after publishing a document's final copy.

      Create Headings in the Content Editor (PDF-186KB)

      Text is the backbone of online instructional materials. Much, if not most, of the content you create for your courses will be text-based--and for good reason. Text is cheap to produce and easy to update.

      It is simple to create accessible text, but there are many considerations to keep in mind while you create text-based content for your course.

      Create Row Headers in the Content Editor (PDF-237KB)

        • Bold/Strong - Bold text is useful when you want to draw visual attention to a term or section of material, but it is generally not recognized by screen reading software. Some screen readers will add intonation for the use of Strong text, which is visually identical to bold and automatically substituted in Blackboard Learn, but you should find other ways to convey important information to students with visual impairments. 
        • CAPS - Like other font variants, CAPS is not recognized by screen reading software, and it will not convey any added meaning to a student with visual impairments. It is also considered rude, akin to shouting the information, so the use of ALL CAPS is not recommended.
        • Color - Using color and highlights to differentiate text from its surrounding context is visually appealing and can help some students see a relationship more clearly, but you should not rely on color formatting alone to separate or signify important content. Aside from the obvious disadvantage blind students have when interacting with colored font, some students may suffer from color blindness or have difficulty differentiating colors on a screen.

        Always use Blackboard Learn's built-in list features. From any Content Editor, you can create a list by selecting the text and clicking the Numbered List or  Bulleted List icons on the toolbar. Do not manually create lists using hyphens, dashes, asterisks, bold, italic, or any other character or font variant. Screen readers rely on code to identify lists, and this code is automatically added if you use Blackboard Learn's list options.  

        There are two types of lists you can use in Blackboard Learn:

        1. Numbered - A numbered list displays a chronological or progressive relationship between ideas, topics, or concepts. Use ordered lists when creating procedures, indicating a degree of importance, or showing a relationship between items in time.
        2. Bulleted - A bulleted list displays equal value between ideas, topics, or concepts. Use unordered lists when creating content that lists ideas of equal importance, interchangeable value, or equivalent characteristics.

        It is recommended to use lists instead of tables whenever possible.  If you find a table is necessary, the table must be formatted appropriately.  

        Create a Table (PDF-237KB)

        Graphs should be treated as if they are an image. Provide a description of the graph along with any visual trends that are being displayed, or present the graph in tabular format. See the Images section of this page for additional instructions on handling complex images.

      Images can help you represent complex information, but they should not be the only way of presenting that information.  Alt Text must be provided in order for Screen Reader software to describe an image.  Images like dividers and borders are considered decorative and do not require alt text.

      To create effective Alt Text, briefly describe the overall image.  If you are using complex images such as images with text, charts, or graphs, describe the image in the text proceeding or following the image or inculde a caption.

      Add Alt Text to Images in Blackboard (PDF-273KB)

      Make Complex Images Accessible (PDF-241KB)

      For each hyperlink you create, make the link self-describing. A self-describing link explains where the link will take the student or what they can expect to find after clicking it.  Here are a few guidelines for creating self-describing links.

      1. Avoid generic phrases like "click here" and "see more." These are not helpful for a Links List and provide no context for the link. Instead, consider each hyperlink as an independent unit of content.
      2. Web addresses or URLs, especially long ones, are not informative. Do not use URLs in the body text of a document, as screen readers will read each letter individually, making them confusing.
      3. When applying color to links, ensure there is high contrast between the text color and background color. For students with color blindness or difficulty reading on screens, this can help reduce eye strain.

      Detailed instructions for creating self-describing links are in the following tutorial.

      Create an Accessible Link (PDF-244KB)

    Before you use audio in your course, consider the following practices:

    1. Prepare a script - divide your lecture into short segments and write a script for each segment. 
    2. Record with high quality - avoid ambient noises (lawn mowers, trains, phone calls, etc.) and use a quality microphone.
    3. Contact the Office of Online Learning for assistance with timestamped transcripts.  Every audio file posted in an online course must include a transcript.

      Faculty members may request assistance from the Office of Online Learning to obtain a timestamped transcript for any length of audio file. The service requires at least two business days to complete. For example, if a transcript is needed by Monday, the request must be completed on or before the previous Thursday during regular business hours.

      To request a transcript, complete the Request for Transcripts or Closed Captioning Form.

      Students are expected to submit a transcript with their audio files if the activity requires peer review of the audio. If the assignment is being submitted to the instructor only, a transcript is not required.

      1. The script should include descriptions of any visual elements.
      2. The script should include section headings to make it clear where transitions are being made.
      3. Students should upload the script with their audio file to Blackboard.

    Before you use video in your course, consider the following practices:

    1. Break up long lectures into shorter, more digestible chunks that can be linked separately in your course. Most videos should be shorter than 7 minutes.
    2. Every video file posted in an online course must include closed captions.

      Faculty members may request assistance from the Office of Online Learning to obtain timestamped, closed captions for any length of video file. The service requires at least two business days to complete. For example, if the closed captions are needed by Monday, the request must be completed on or before the previous Thursday during regular business hours.

      To request closed captions, complete the Request for Transcripts or Closed Captioning Form.

      You can Create Captions with TechSmith Relay (PDF-241KB). TechSmith's process is simple and will generate an ~80% accurate caption file.  The caption file is generated typically in less than 30 minutes and will likely require minor editing.

      YouTube videos offer automatic closed captioning.  However, the quality of the captions may vary and require minor editing.

      Edit Caption Text on YouTube Videos (Link)

      YouTube's Closed Caption Search Filter allows you to search for videos that have already been edited for accuracy.

      Search for YouTube Videos with Captions (Link)

      Students are expected to submit a transcript with their video files if the activity requires peer review of the videos. If the assignment is being submitted to the instructor only, a transcript is not required.

      1. The script should include descriptions of any visual elements.
      2. The script should include section headings to make it clear where transitions are being made.
      3. Students should upload the script with their video file to Blackboard.

    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra sessions include a live closed captioning feature. The following steps are necessary for live captioning.

    1. Identify a person who will serve as a captioner for the session. This person would need to be skilled in both typing speed and accuracy. 
    2. Plan to have the captioner join the session at least 15 minutes before the session is scheduled to begin. Once the captioner joins the session, the moderator assigns that individual the Captioner role via the Attendees panel. 
    3. The captioner will type what is being said during the session. All attendees are alerted that captions are available. Attendees have the option to turn on the captioning to view what is being typed in real time.
    4. Captions entered during the live session are included in the session recording and the transcript can be downloaded.

    Closed Captioning in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (Video)

    Tips for Writing Accessible Content (link)

    WebAim - Tutorials for creating accessible documents and media.

    DIAGRAM - Resources developed by the DIAGRAM Center to address issues in accessible math.

Last Updated: 7/1/20