This page reviews guidelines to help you make your online coursesADA 508compliant. While these guidelines support all students, they are required to make
information available to students with physical and learning disabilities. For example,
visually impaired students use screen readers, so images need alternative text that
can be read aloud. Deaf and hard-of-hearing students need closed-captioning for video
content and transcripts for audio content. It's important to include a note about
special needs in your syllabus to point students to DSPS in case they need accommodations.
All required online course materials (reading, slides, videos, assignments, simulations,
software & applications, Canvas LTI's, etc.) must be 508 compliant or equivalent alternative
material must be provided. This includes those created by you, those you curate, and those provided by publishers
or third parties.
Why Web Accessibility?
Good Web design makes information accessible. By the same token, Web designers must
be aware of accessibility issues in order to accommodate people with disabilities.
People with disabilities can use a range of assistive technologies (specialized software
and hardware) with their computers to help them access information. Obstacles that
people with disabilities face when surfing the Internet include the following:
People with visual impairments and some types of learning disabilities often rely
on text-to-speech screen readers that read aloud text appearing on the screen. Screen
readers cannot read images (graphs, maps, etc.), so information provided in only these
formats is not accessible to these individuals. Blinking and scrolling text can also
cause problems for screen readers.
Flickering or flashing designs can cause seizures in people with certain neurological
Without captioning, people with hearing impairments cannot appreciate multimedia content
such as on-line newscasts, movies, and lectures.
Without descriptive narration, individuals who are blind miss information portrayed
For individuals with little or no hand control, using a mouse can be very difficult.
Being required to "click" on a tiny area to access information can be an obstacle.
Inconsistent page layout and poor information design can be disorienting and confusing
to any user.
What Are the Benefits of Accessible Web Design?
Good design is good design. Just as sidewalk curb cuts--originally intended for people
using wheelchairs--also benefit parents wheeling strollers and individuals on roller
blades, accessible Web design benefits more than just people with disabilities.
Accessibility and usability are intertwined and are equally important. Not adhering
to Web accessibility principles excludes segments of the population. Accessible Web
design will provide equal access to the information and opportunities on the Internet.
In addition to making information easier to access, benefits of accessible Web design
include the following:
Improved usability for all visitors. Consistent navigation makes it easier to find
desired content quickly.
Clear navigation and clear content supports people with low literacy levels.
Good color contrast aids people with color blindness, people using monochrome monitors,
and those who prefer to read from printed pages.
Providing text equivalents (e.g., ALT attributes and captioning), table summaries,
and metadata improves search engine listings.
A good starting point for making your courses accessible is to view the guidelines
below and then see the CuyamacaDSPS Web Accessibility Pageas well as Cuyamaca's Web Standards page. You can also view some of the software
and hardware and alternate media available at Cuyamaca'sDSPS High Tech Center.
Most of these guidelines are for all documents (Canvas content, Word documents, PDF,
slide presentations, etc.).
HEADING STYLES. Use heading styles consistently. This allows assistive technologies like screen
readers to scan the page for headings, just like sighted people scan the page for
visual cues like big, bold text. Heading levels (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) should
be used in the correct order. Don't use fonts, colors, and formats (like bold) in
place of heading styles.
LISTS. Use list tools to make bullet or number lists so that lists are recognized when
using a screen reader.
LINKS. Links should have meaningful, unique text. Don’t just paste the URL or use non-descriptive
text like "Click here." For example, "English 101 Syllabus" link text is more descriptive than "click here" or "http://mysite.com/document3434.pdf."
COLOR CONTRAST. Choose colors so there is sufficient color contrast between the foreground text
and background to avoid difficulties for students with low vision.
COLOR AND MEANING. Make sure color is not the only means for conveying information, adding emphasis,
indicating action, or otherwise distinguishing a visual element. For example, don't
say "click the red button."
IMAGES. Add alternative text to describe images. The text should provide context for a
person with low or no vision by either explaining instructional value or indicating
the image is decorative. Alternative text should not contain “image of”, “picture
of,” or the file name.
VIDEO. All required video should have accurate captions (seeYouTube's captioning instructions). If a video has no audio or relevant soundtrack, a note explaining that should accompany
LIVE VIDEO(like Zoom). Contact DSPS to arrange for an interpreter if it is requested.
AUDIO. Required audio should include a complete and accurate transcript. Avoid autoplay
and provide a means to pause, stop, forward, rewind, and control the volume.
READING ORDER.Reading order is correctly set so that content is presented in the proper sequence
when using screen readers and other assistive technologies.
FLASHING CONTENT.Blinking or flashing content, including gifs, should only be used if necessary for
instruction and not merely for decoration or emphasis. Flashing content must not flash
more than three times in any one second period or exceed the general and red flash
TABLES. Use tables only for data and make sure tables read well when read left to right,
top to bottom. Use header rows and columns when they describe the data. Include
a table caption for complex tables.
SLIDES. Give each slide a unique title. Ensure that all text is visible in outline view
to be sure that it can be read by assistive technology. Use accessible layouts and
SPREADSHEETS. Include labels for the rows and columns, detailed labels for charts, and text descriptions
that draw attention to key cells, trends, and totals.
Files and content pages should pass any built-in accessibility check available in
the software. Use these tools to help check your web pages (such as your college page):
STOP! Before reading further take the CopyRight Quiz from Sacramento State.
Here is a summary of the main accepted points."Is all the material I did not produce
myself illegal in my online course?" Well, actually anything that has been saved (to
disk, to recorder, to print - including wikis, blogs, navigation buttons) is protected
by copyright laws - material does not need a registered copyright. Even sites that
require a login with password (as with our Bb courses) need to follow copyright laws.
And this copyright policy is worldwide. If you do not have permissions, you need to
know the guidelines. But then, this issue is complex, changing, and a bit vague with
no absolutely clear answers. And, the good news is that there have been some recent
decisions that give educators a bit more license and freedom. You might want to view
the "Copyright Primer."'
Here is a summary of the main accepted points.
If something was published before 1923, it is generally free to use. Here is an example:Darwin's Origin of Species. Beyond this rule, it gets complex.
This policy is designed to allow such activities as teaching, reporting news, critiquing,
and researching a bit more flexibility and leeway. Material still must be acquired
legally - not "off the air" or include material with "exclusionary licensing." And,
the material must used on a secure network - not for the world to download.
What if you want more than this? Here are some options:
Get a license for the class. A fee will then be charged to students. One can seek
permission by email (www.copyright.com)
You can link to sites that have the information you want (there are great sites out
The library can obtain links to various articles in their database and these can be
posted to Bb
Usepublisher content(which can include videos, textbook art, InfoTrac, etc.) - a fee is usually charged
Ask the Cuyamaca library to obtain permission (or write a letter yourself to the author)
Ownership of Your Course
You have created an online course? Do you own it or does the college own it ("intellectual
property rights")? Can you teach your course at other institutions (non-exclusive
clause)? Usually, the college owns the course, but districts have different policies
and "the course" can be different than "course content." Ask Zoe or an administrator
for a clearer answer to your specific situation (see sidebar interview). You can always
protect your own work from being copied by others by using PDF (Acrobat security options)
and most streaming video is protected from download. Regarding using your Bb course
at other colleges, this question is moot as each course must be recreated at each
college (in Bb which is copyrighted) and then your own (protected?) materials are
added to these Bb templates.
In May 2019, the Academic Senate endorsed adoption of theOEI Online Course Design Rubric. This rubric replaces the Best Practices Checklist developed by the Online Teaching
and Learning Committee based on early versions of the OEI Rubric.
TheOEI Online Course Design Rubricmay be used by online teachers as a tool to review their own online courses. The
rubric is also used in the Peer Online Course Review (POCR) process.
The OEI Course Design Rubric was developed by the OEI Professional Developmentwork groupto ensure that all courses offered as part of the Initiative promote student success
and meet existing regulatory and accreditation requirements.
Courses that arepeer reviewedand aligned to the OEI Course Design Rubric:
have met the CCC’s highest level of design standards to support online student success
can be made available forcross enrollmentto students in colleges participating in the online exchange.
Content Presentation- how content is organized and accessed in the course management system.
Interaction- regular effective contact (instructor-initiated and student-initiated communication).
Assessment- the variety and effectiveness of assessments within the course.
Accessibility - ensuring a student using assistive technologies will be able to access the instructor’s
course content as required by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (also
known as “508 Compliance”).