Developing a campus-wide online accessibility infrastructure: strategies and lessons learned

#36362

Speaker(s)

  • Tania Heap, University of North Texas

Session Details

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

Summary

Over three years ago, a large public university that is a Hispanic and Minority Serving Institution was tasked with ensuring that every online course and degree program offering meets accessibility standards. This presentation will share the strategies and lessons learned in creating a scalable infrastructure that enables a small accessibility team to offer support and services to hundreds of faculty teaching online.

Abstract

A large public university that is a Hispanic and Minority Serving Institution was tasked with ensuring that every online course and degree program offering meets accessibility standards following WCAG 2.1 A and AA guidelines. One strategy that helped a small digital accessibility team achieve this large scale project was to assist the instructional designers in the teaching and learning center in developing Course-in-a-Box (CIB). CIB is a guided do-it-yourself online course development initiative for faculty that consisted of completing an asynchronous online training course, covering best practices in course design, accessibility, and copyright, then gaining access to an accessible course template built in the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS), which instructors use to develop their online course. Other services offered as part of this initiative are consultations, project management, auditing, and feedback from instructional designers and accessibility specialists, who review each course at key development milestones. Since this service was deployed in 2019, approximately 900 instructors completed the training and over 600 online courses were developed or substantially redesigned, following WCAG 2.1 A and AA standards to the best of the team's ability. Lessons learned and common issues and challenges will be discussed in this presentation. The demand for this service is growing and the CIB program is revisited every six months to address opportunities for improvement and to keep it current and relevant.

Keypoints

  1. Bringing the entire online curriculum to meet accessibility standards requires time, planning, and mindset
  2. To educate and serve a large population of students and faculty, services should be scalable and organized.
  3. To implement online course accessibility as a campus-wide mission, faculty and leadership buy-in is necessary.

Disability Areas

Cognitive/Learning, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Mobility, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Administrative/Campus Policy, Faculty Development & Support, Uncategorized, Universal Design for Learning

Speaker Bio(s)

Tania Heap

Dr. Tania Heap is the Director of Learning Research and Accessibility based in the Center for Learning Experimentation, Application, and Research (CLEAR) at the University of North Texas (UNT). She has been involved in online and technology-enhanced learning initiatives in different capacities for over 15 years. Her background is in practice-based research in learning technology, design and methods in social-behavioral-educational research with human participants, digital accessibility and ADA compliance testing, faculty development, and instructional design for high-enrollment online classes and MOOCs.