Under ADA Title II, colleges and universities are considered to be places of public accommodation. All programs, services and activities must be accessible to students with disabilities, and accommodations must be provided in timely manner.
The Departments of Education and Justice issued an addendum on May 26, 2011, to the Dear Colleague Letter (6/29/10), reaffirming that “equal access for students with disabilities is the law and must be considered as new technology is integrated”, that “all faculty [including adjuncts] and staff must comply”, and that “the antidiscrimination obligations ‘apply to online courses and other online content’” (see Disability Compliance for Higher Education, Allan L. Shackelford, Esq.,Feb. 2013, Wiley Publications).
Higher Ed Accessibility Lawsuits
The link below provide an overview of a number of colleges and universities who have faced litigation for inaccessible Web content and technologies.
In January 2014, Miami University (Ohio) has also been named in a suit.
Universal Design for Learning
There are many important aspects of online course design and development. Universal Design is an approach to the design of all products and environments wherein they are usable by everyone, to the greatest extent possible, regardless of age, ability, or situation. It serves people who are of all ages, with excellent or limited abilities, in ideal or difficult circumstances. Universal Design benefits everyone by accommodating limitations and ensuring maximum success by all students. These accommodations, in turn, allow for addressing a multiplicity of learning styles, which benefits fully-abled students as well as disabled students. Universal Design principles also connect to Quality Matters principles, including QM Standards: 1.1, 1.2, 1.8, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, 3.4, 3.5, 4.1, 4.2, 4.6, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1, & 6.2
The links below provide an overview of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) practices, and well as specific information on the three overarching principles.
- Present information and content in different ways
- Differentiate the ways that students can express what they know
- Stimulate interest and motivation for learning
Quality Matters Principles & Accessibility
Tri-C is an institutional subscriber to Quality Matters (QM). This organization is a leader in quality assurance for online education, and has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to continuous improvement in online education and student learning.
The Quality Matters Standards also provide guidance for providing accessible online course content. Specifically, QM Standards 6.3, 7.2, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4 address accessibility in the online and blended learning environments.
Is Blackboard accessible?
Blackboard is fully committed to ensuring that the platform contains no barriers for users with disabilities and is both usable and accessible by everyone, regardless of age, ability, or situation. Blackboard was certified with a Gold Level for Non-Visual Access by the National Federation of the Blind. For more on Blackboard accessibility
How do I make my online content accessible?
There are numerous resources available at the College to assist faculty in the development and re-development of online courses and online course materials.
- The Blackboard Accessibility Checklist
This document provides a simple checklist for achieving accessibility in the online environment.
- Using Technology with Accessibility in Mind
This document provides an overview of tools available at the College, and how you can use them with accessibility in Mind.
What Resources at the College can help me make my online course content accessible?