What is Accessibility?
The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) defines accessibility as “giving people of all abilities opportunities to participate fully in everyday life. Accessibility refers to the ability to access and benefit from a system, service, product or environment.”
When something is accessible we think of it as being available to a wide range of people. Accessibility involves designing content that removes barriers for all people, and especially for people with disabilities.
So, what does that mean?
Accessibility involves making content accessible to everyone regardless of their abilities. In terms of your online course, this includes access to content in LEARN, Word and PDF documents, and video and audio, language use and more.
For example, if you use a video that lacks close captioning it creates a barrier that prevents students who are Deaf or hard of hearing from understanding the audio content. This barrier prevents them from fully participating in the class. Providing close captioning makes the audio content accessible to them and allows for their full and equal participation in the class.
Everyone benefits from accessibility
While this guide focuses on making your course content more accessible to students who have disabilities, doing also provides benefits for everyone.
- International students learning English can benefit from close captioned videos and plain usage for better understanding of audio and written content
- Students watching a video in a noisy environment can read closed captions for better understanding
- Clear and simple language provides better understanding for students of content and assessment instructions
What are some common barriers?
There are many barriers to digital and web content for people with disabilities. For the purpose of this guide these common barriers to accessibility to course content will be addressed:
- Difficult to read fonts
- Improper use of HTML heading tags, lists and bold text
- Images with missing or inappropriate alternative text
- Text embedded in images
- Non descriptive link text (e.g. “click here“)
- Complex language that is difficult to understand
- Video and audio without text transcripts
- Video without captions
Accessible Online Course Content
The College has a legal obligation, under the Manitoba Human Rights Code, to ensure course content is accessible to all students.
This guide will assist you in making your online course content more accessible by providing solutions for the most common barriers. These solutions comply with the Web Content Accessbility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). WCAG 2.1 is a set of recommendations to make online content accessible to people with disabilities.
Accommodations are available for students with documented disabilities registered with Accessibility Services. Accommodations reduce or remove barriers a disability may pose on learning and the demonstration of knowledge.
Accommodations may include:
- Accommodations for test and exams
- Recordings of lectures
- Alternate format of course materials
Screen reader software
Accessibility Services promotes to use of Kurzweil 3000 screen reading software to all students. This software is free for staff and students to use. If you would like to test your own course content using Kurzweil 3000, contact Accessibilty Services to register a copy.
Learn more about disabilities and accessibility
The Disability Awareness Course in LEARN was developed by Diversity Initiatives, Accessibility Services, Deaf Studies, and Disability and Community Support. You can use this online course for your students to increase awareness of disabilities and accessibility. For information, contact Nora Sobel, Diversity Initiatives Coordinator.