For many learners, academic technologies provide a convenient, easy-to-use way to access course materials, collaborations, assignments, assessments, and other processes. But for some students, the technologies serve not as a point of entry, but as a barrier to their academic success. When academic technologies are not built with accessibility in mind, they can be difficult or impossible to use by students with physical, sensory, or learning disabilities.
Barriers to access may exist within delivery systems like learning management systems, common document formats (Word, PDF, PowerPoint), web browsers (Chrome, Firefox), multimedia content and players, online document viewers, maps and wayfinding tools, and a host of other technologies. Factors like software (e.g. operating systems and assistive technologies), hardware (desktop/laptop, tablet/phone, keyboard/mouse, network connection, video processor), environment (seating, lighting, noise, distraction), proficiency (language, culture, technology) may also present obstacles to a learner's experience and ultimate success.
Accessible academic course content must provide equal opportunity for student success, and must be usable in a way that is equivalent in effect, timeliness, and outcome. In this sense, accessibility is not a discrete feature of a given technology; it is an intrinsic component of an inclusive pedagogical strategy. By developing and adopting systems that are accessible to everyone, you can help to ensure that all of your learners have an equal path to success.
In this section, you will find resources for designing and creating a more accessible and inclusive learning experience for all learners.