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Course Content Guidelines

The following Content Guidelines represent a few compositional choices that faculty can make to help ensure their course content is universally accessible by design, limiting the number of changes necessary down the road should a student with a Disability need accommodations related to print or web media. 

Please note that while these guidelines should greatly improve the accessibility of all courses, and while accessibility checkers accurately identify most errors, there may still be additional changes needed at the time of accommodation, depending on the specific software used to accommodate the student.

Course Content Guidelines
Content Guidelines Benefits
Accessibility Statement Mandatory for all syllabi All students are aware of the Office of Accessibility Services and the accommodation process at WVU
Accessible Syllabi Syllabi must be saved as an accessible .doc and run through Microsoft Word's native accessibility checker

Consider using the Teaching and Learning Commons (TLC) Syllabus Builder
This ensures that all syllabi are compatible with screen-reading technology
Accessible Documents All documents, PDFs, and PowerPoints should be run through the native accessibility checker for that program or an online accessibility checker This ensures that all documents and materials made available to students are compatible with screen-reading technology
Document Types The following formats are recommended:
  • Highly Accessible: Web Files (e.g. eCampus and HTML)
  • Fairly Accessible: Word and PowerPoint Files
  • Potentially Accessible: PDFs (these often require additional formatting for use with screen-reading technology. Some photocopy scans from hard copy cannot easily be made accessible)
  • Typically Inaccessible: Flash Media
Avoiding less accessible document types reduces the amount of work necessary to make documents accessible
Images All images should be accompanied by meaningful Alt. Text Textual descriptions ensure that content shown in images is accurately conveyed to students who cannot see the image
Tables and Charts

Do not use tables for layout and design purposes. Restrict tables to presentation of data only. Consider alternatives to tables, such as lists

Use the simplest table design possible, preferably without merging cells. Use several simple tables, if necessary

Use table headers to identify rows and columns

Accessible table design makes tables accessible for screen-reading technology and improves legibility for all students
Section Headings Documents with section headings should include semantically tagged headings, using the Styles pane in Microsoft Word Headings enhance legibility and ability for students to scan online content. Formatted properly, they are accessible to screen-reading technology
Color Contrast Ensure good color contrast for text, graphics, charts, and backgrounds This improves legibility for all students
Videos Videos should be shown with professional-quality closed captions that meet the standards for higher education. See Captioning page for more details Media captioning ensures that course content is accessible to students who cannot hear the video. However, it is also utilized widely by most students, regardless of disability status. Nearly half of all videos are incomprehensible without sound or captions
Audio Files Audio-only files should be accompanied by a verbatim transcript. See Captioning page for more details Transcripts are a useful tool for students who are visual learners. They also ensure that course content is accessible to students who cannot hear the audio file
Hyperlinks Avoid vague or repetitive link text, such as "click here" or "read more" Proper descriptive link text is more visible and increases student usage
Math Equations Equations should be created utilizing MathML with a technology such as MathType This will facilitate conversion of equations to MathML, should an accommodation request be received
Technologies and Software

All software purchases must be approved by ITS based on Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPAT)

Investigate and assess the accessibility of all software and technology before making a decision about its continued use in your classes

Ensuring software accessibility upfront avoids time-consuming changes or work-arounds once the course has started if an accommodation is requested
Video Communications Platforms

Ensure that online video communications platforms are accessible, such as Zoom or Collaborate Ultra.

Create a persistent link for all class sessions (rather than a distinct link for each class meeting)

Do not restrict access based on WVU ID login. When possible, use a waiting room feature or password, instead

Creating a persistent link will ensure that only one link needs to be passed along to service providers in the event that a Transcriber or Sign Language Interpreter is required in the online class

Making the classroom available to guests from outside WVU ensures that a third-party Transcriber or Sign Language Interpreter will be able to access the classroom. (This does not compromise security if a password or waiting room is in place)

This table was adapted from Penn State University's Course Accessibility Guidelines and used with permission.