Disability Specific Tips
This section provides instructors basic tips for creating accessible web pages for students who have specific disabilities.
Text-to-speech software is a popular device used by people who are blind. Text-to speech software reads whatever text appears on the screen. People who have blindness can use a text-only browser to navigate the World Wide Web, or can turn off the graphics-loading feature of a multimedia web browser. It is very important to include text descriptions to graphics, because interpretation of graphics is completely inaccessible without text. Graphics include: photographs, drawings, and image maps. Alternatives to visual materials include audiotapes, Braille printouts, electronic text, tactile drawings, and aural descriptions.
Other Visual Impairments
Students who have limited vision may choose to use a special software that enlarges screen images so that small parts can be viewed at a time. It is recommended to keep web pages clutter free, follow the same format for each page, and not require users to distinguish colors for navigational use throughout the web page.
Quite frequently, web pages are accessible to people who have hearing impairments because visual elements and text are used to describe the website. In those circumstances when websites include audio output, it is recommended that text captioning or transcription be provided. Course videotapes should also be captioned. Students with hearing impairments may also be unable to participate in telephone conferences and videoconferences, so if instructors choose to use these options they will need to provide accommodations (e.g., sign language interpreters).
Instructors may find that they have students with varying mobility impairments in their courses. Some students may require an alternative key board and mouse or a speech input device in order to gain access to online course materials and communication tools. Others with mobility impairments may be able to use the standard devices but may not have the fine motor skills needed for small buttons on the screen. In these cases, instructors may need to make additional accommodations as required by each student. For those students with mobility impairments who are physically slow, real time chat communication is inaccessible and a different method such as email, would be more beneficial and accessible. It is also recommended that instructors remember that any place-bound meetings for online courses be wheelchair accessible.
Always avoid attention getting flickers, especially those that flash more than three times in any one second period. These have been proven to induce seizures for people who are susceptible to them.
Students with speech impairments may not be able to completely participate in interactive telephone conferences and videoconferences. It is recommended that instructors use other mediums of communication which are fully accessible, such as electronic mail and blog pages.