Creating an online course accessibility database at a large institution


Presented at 3:30pm in Colorado I-J on Wednesday, November 8, 2023.



  • Tania Heap, Director of Learning Research and Accessibility | Adjunct Faculty, University of North Texas
  • Audon Archibald, Data Analyst, University of North Texas

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


At our institution, we analyzed data from 300+ accessibility reports that we send to faculty upon reviewing their online courses. We identified the most common accessibility issues and are creating actionable steps in addressing them. Using these and other results, we present a general strategy for accessibility teams across other institutions to best collect, analyze, and archive data for continued support of students with disabilities and for university stakeholders.


This post-pandemic educational landscape is favoring long-term widespread use of online, hybrid, and digital adoptions (Diaz-Infante et al., 2022). At our minority-serving and Hispanic-serving institution, the number of students with disabilities quadrupled in the last three years. Inclusive digital learning is a necessity. In our teaching and learning center, the accessibility team reviews every online course for WCAG 2.1 and Quality Matters 8 accessibility standards. Every year, the accessibility team reviews approximately 300 online courses. One strategy that helped us achieve this large-scale project was to develop a guided do-it-yourself online course development initiative for faculty. Faculty complete an asynchronous online training course, covering best practices in accessibility. Then, they gain access to a course template built in the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS), which instructors can use to develop their course. Accessibility professionals review each course at key development milestones and send reports to faculty, providing feedback. We analyzed data from 300+ accessibility reports produced from Summer 2022 to Spring 2023. Each report has a quantitative section, indicating if standards are met/unmet, and a “Comments” section with qualitative feedback. Our aim was to identify the most common accessibility issues that emerged from our course reviews, and whether issue frequency and type varied according to subject taught, course level, and length, amongst other factors. The most common trends were identified in electronic documents, in particular PDFs, text presentation, tables, and link formatting, and we used this data to directly affect change in accessibility training at the university, such as strengthening our campus-wide training efforts on PDF accessibility. Our next step is creating an accessibility database for all online courses, available to different institutional stakeholders. We hope that instructors, administrators, and students will benefit from being informed of the most occurring issues in digital accessibility across departments and subject disciplines, and how these gaps can be best addressed.


  1. A data warehouse can provide a high-level snapshot of most common accessibility issues across departments.
  2. Training initiatives should be targeted and informed by data on most common accessibility issues campus-wide.
  3. Transparency on most frequent accessibility issues campus-wide leads to better outreach and training.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Administrative/Campus Policy, Faculty Development & Support, Research, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Tania Heap

Dr. Tania Heap is the Director of Learning Research and Accessibility in the Center for Learning Experimentation, Application, and Research (CLEAR) at the University of North Texas (UNT). She is also an adjunct faculty in the Department of Psychology. Tania has been involved in online and technology-enhanced learning initiatives in different capacities for 18 years. Her interests lie in practice-based research in educational technology, digital accessibility and ADA compliance testing, VR accessibility, and the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).

Audon Archibald

Audon Archibald completed a Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of North Texas in 2022. Currently assisting the Learning Research Team in the UNT Division of Digital Strategy and Innovation (DSI) as a data analyst, his research interests include media, technology, and the role they play in pedagogy and education.