Because making course materials ADA compliant is Federal Law.
- Section 508 of Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 states in part: "Electronic information and data must be equally accessible to individuals with and without disabilities."
- Section 504 Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by recipents of federal funds.
- Americans with disabilits Act (ADA) law was passed in 1990 to make American Society more accessible to people with disabilities and prohibits discrimination based on disability
While this may seem stern and frightening, realize that learners with disabilities are not the only beneficiaries of courses designed for accessibility. Designing resources with open accessibility in mind (such as providing written notes and PowerPoints in addition to a narrated lecture video, or providing a podcast in addition to reading notes) provides learners with options on how to access your course content. Learners should be challenged by a course's concepts and ideas, not by its design.
The simplest way to think about ADA compliance is to think about your course from a student perspective. Would a student without hearing or sight have the same opportunity for success as any other student? No blind or deaf students are enrolled in your courses now, there could be at any time, and scrambling to revise course materials two weeks before the semester begins in response to that email from Disability Services is a harrowing prospect.
Generating course materials that comply with ADA standards doesn't only benefit students with physical limitations. Wheelchair ramps accommodate for wheelchairs, but able-bodied people use those ramps as well. While the tradition of using stairs is storied, no service technician with an air conditioner strapped to a dolly turns refuses a ramp when it's available. Consider the improved asthetic of a gentle slope versus the brutal right angles of the stairway. Using a simple machine, the inclined plane, creates efficiency and reduces strain while improving access to facilities. ADA compliance at its heart aims to improve accessibility, and those improvements can make life easier not just for the physically challenged but for everyone.
Australia's Department of Social Services clears up misconceptions with web accessibility in this short video:
ADA compliance is more than including captions for videos or avoiding blinking fonts on your course home page. Compliance means considering every instructional element of your course for use and efficiency. Is it worth the time and effort to make a captioned lecture video when a Lesson module in Moodle would be equally as effective? Not all students learn well through reading, and not all students learn well through listening. ADA compliance provides options for content delivery, meaning your students can interact with the course materials in the way that suits their learning best. Is ADA compliance work? Yes, but that work is worth the investment, and not just because of the potential of one day need to accommodate for a student with a disability. Accessiblity allows for educational self-determination; students are still responsible for understanding the materials, but giving them delivery options allows for preference and comfort. Increased accessibility facilitates a better student experience, so compliance is in everyone's best interest.
Have you considered the following for your course?
- Accessible Design and Navigation
- Accessible Course Content
- Establish simple and consistent course design
- Consistent color scheme
- Avoid using color alone to convey important information
- Avoid using material with poor contrast of colors. Check color contrast resource below.
- Logical order of content
- Design for Ease of Use
- Keep main page simple and unlcuttered
- Provide unique and descriptive titles
- Video Lecture Captioning
- OIT highly recommends using a program called Camtasia for accurate captioning of video lectures. We provide laptops loaded with Camtasia as well as provide a serene facility and support services at our office in Kent Library (Suite 305). Camtasia workshops are offered periodically throughout the year.