The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) of 1990, Sections 504 and 508 are federal laws designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. In addition to making accommodations for students with disabilities (i.e., extended time on a test) UMass Lowell is required to adhere to accessible design standards. We refer to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1).
As a UML online instructor, you should do your due diligence to develop ADA-compliant courses. Design of an accessible course involves considerations related to IT, accessibility, and pedagogy. the Blackboard software is at WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliance. You should use Blackboard and supported UML platforms, like Echo360 and Zoom, for your online courses. In addition, there are some simple steps you can take to create accessible online course materials for all of your students.
GPS staff will provide training and assist you with these efforts. New online courses are reviewed by GPS for ADA compliance. Please contact email@example.com if you require assistance. The UML Disability Services Office handles all accommodation requests. You may hear from them and need to access the Accommodate platform to receive and sign off on accommodation requests.
- All videos have closed captions (video that you’ve created and external videos)
- All audio files have a transcript available for students to download (audio that you’ve created and external podcasts)
Documents and Blank Pages in Blackboard
- Start with the source - make your documents accessible before converting them to PDF
- If converting to PDF, use save as tagged PDF option so that content will be searchable and text can be selected
- Windows Users - Save Word and Powerpoint files as tagged PDF (.pdf)
- Mac Users - Save Word and Powerpoint files as tagged PDF (.pdf)
- Use high-contrast colors (eg: black text on white background)
- Use Sans-Serif fonts (eg: Arial, Helvetica)
- Use built-in templates and Headers to structure your content
- Don’t use color as the only visual means of conveying information
- Use Headings and an organized structure when using Blackboard's Blank Pages or the Content Editor
- All non-text content presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose. This may include ALT tags or image descriptions entered in all documents and Blackboard pages for all images, charts, graphs, and visuals.
- Add ALT tags or image descriptions to images with Blackboard's content editor, Microsoft Word, and Powerpoint
- The purpose of each link can be determined from the link text alone or from the link text together with its programmatically determined link context. Use descriptive language for your links instead of “Click here”. Do not use a long URL only for a link description.
- How to add accessible links in Blackboard's content editor
- If you are using publisher resources or an external software application that UML does not license, then it must be ADA compliant. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a review of 3rd-party apps you plan to use in your course.
- Send out any presentation materials beforehand
- Enable live captioning for your live sessions
- Course navigation should be consistent and predictable. Blackboard provides an accessible platform (WCAG Level, AA), so using their built-in tools and navigation will go a long way in developing an accessible course. Additionally, GPS strives to maintain a consistent experience
- Use the GPS standard Blackboard template, which includes consistent left-hand menu items and naming conventions, and a course homepage with weekly folders.