Helping Teachers Make Digital Learning Accessible to All

Recently, many districts have faced the reality of making significant overhauls to their websites in order to be ADA compliant. Some districts have been sued by parents, like the 2014 lawsuit against Seattle Public Schools and others, like mine, have received notices about pending action if changes aren’t made. The web compliance guidelines aren’t new. The WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) have been around since 2008 and were made standard in 2012. It’s taken the threat of legal action to light a fire under most organizations to actually get their websites into compliance.

This is good news, although it’s creating a lot of work initially for district webmasters. The changes to make our websites more organized, cleaner, and more readable will benefit everyone. The next step though, will be to make our learning materials more accessible as well. I’m hoping that all the publishers of digital learning tools, learning management systems and textbook companies with online materials will take a closer look at their structures and materials and do some of the work for us, or at least provide us with the tools. In the meantime, it will be up to teachers and district content developers to make their learning content accessible for all learners. This infographic on “5 Things to Know About Your Role in Ensuring Accessibility”  can help define the responsibilities of different state, local and district leadership in addressing the issue of accessibility for all of our students.

Since my responsibilities center around teaching teachers, I chose to focus on steps teachers could take to make their classroom web content more accessible to their students. The infographic* I created shows 5 tips teachers can start with. They are also areas that I’ll concentrate on creating PD around for this upcoming year.

* One point of irony – after just about finishing creating the infographic in Pictochart I realized that it doesn’t have the capability to add alt text to graphics. I did submit a feature request to them and suggested that they add that as an option in the future.

Resources: 

  • 5 pro tips to make digital learning accessible to all students [VIDEO]. (2017, June 4). Retrieved July 24, 2017, from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=943
  • TAKE A TOUR: LEARN ABOUT UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING. (2015, July 22). Retrieved July 24, 2017, from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/take_a_tour_udl
  • WCAG 2.0 checklist – a free and simple guide to WCAG 2.0. (2011). Retrieved July 24, 2017, from https://www.wuhcag.com/wcag-checklist/
  • 5 Things to Know About Your Role in Ensuring Accessibility. (2017, May 18). Retrieved July 24, 2017, from http://www.ctdinstitute.org/library/2016-10-11/5-things-know-about-your-role-ensuring-accessibility

2 thoughts on “Helping Teachers Make Digital Learning Accessible to All

  1. Karen – I think you have written a post that is very useful for all teachers and anyone putting content online. I was thinking about this as well, “I’m hoping that all the publishers of digital learning tools, learning management systems and textbook companies with online materials will take a closer look at their structures and materials and do some of the work for use, or at least provide us with the tools.” Do you know of any publishers who have made content accessible? Are they experiencing the same pressure districts are experiencing?

  2. Nice info graphic! Before the start of this module I didn’t know that “alt text” was a thing, and I’ve been going “how did I not know about this?!” It seems super important to the accessibility of websites. I have no idea how to add alt text to anything, but I definitely want to learn how. to I love that you submitted the feature request to Pictochart; let us know if they get back to you!

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