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Accessibility Resources for Remote Instruction

The Office of IT Accessibility (OITA) has compiled a list of resources and services available to faculty and staff teaching online and remote courses.

Why Accessibility Matters

All online courses and course materials must be made accessible as dictated by the Rutgers University IT Accessibility Policy (link opens in a new window). Building accessible courses and course content is a key part of Universal Design for Learning (link opens in a new window).

Remember

Web accessibility is a Rutgers University requirement.

Accessibility benefits everyone.

Getting Started

If you need to transition your course to an online format on short notice, please be aware that some students may need more time to adjust their accommodations with you and/or the Office of Disability Services. Please be flexible and open to any alternative deadlines or delivery methods to promote an equal experience for all students. Please work with the Office of Disability Services (ODS) (link opens in a new window) staff to facilitate accommodations and alternative requirements for students with disabilities.

Types of Disabilities and Accommodations

Below is a list of common disabilities and common practices used to improve the experience of the individual with a disability.

Low Vision

Blindness

  • Use of screen reader software
  • Use of dictation software instead of a keyboard and mouse
  • Audio description, transcripts and alternative text
  • Electronic format for course handouts and materials
  • Tactile graphics (link opens in a new window) and physical representations
  • Note takers
  • Extended exam and assignment due dates
  • Accessible course content and tools
  • Alternative testing locations and arrangements

Deaf and Hard of Hearing

  • American Sign Language interpreters
  • Synchronous and asynchronous captioning
  • Transcripts for videos and presentations
  • Note takers
  • Accessible course content and tools
  • Alternative testing locations and arrangements

Learning Disability

  • Note takers
  • Text-to-speech software
  • Audio recorded lectures
  • eBooks
  • Captioned videos
  • Extended exam and assignment due dates
  • Accessible course content and tools
  • Alternative testing locations and arrangements

Mobility Impairment

  • Note takers and scribes
  • Alternative input/output software on computers
  • Extended time for task completion
  • Extended exam and assignment due dates
  • Accessible course content and tools
  • Alternative testing locations and arrangements

Speech Impairment

  • Accommodations for oral assignments, exams, and presentations
  • Accessible course content and tools
  • Alternative testing locations and arrangements

Chronic Health Condition

  • Flexible due dates for assignments, exams, and tasks

Creating Accessible Documents and Online Courses

Below are resources for creating and maintaining accessible documents and media. If you have further questions about any tool or file type, please email accessibility@rutgers.edu.

Canvas

To ensure accessible online content on Canvas, instructors are encouraged to use UDOIT (link opens in a new window). UDOIT will scan all course content for accessibility, and provide feedback and meaningful remediation suggestions. Additionally, TLT can provide instructor-led course accessibility training (link opens in a new window) on Canvas accessibility.

Blackboard

For instructors using Blackboard, use Blackboard Ally (link opens in a new window) to check your course content for accessibility.

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Office, including Word, contains an Accessibility Checker (link opens in a new window) that can provide comprehensive feedback with meaningful suggestions for remediation.

Creating Accessible PowerPoint Presentations

Below are some tips and best practices for creating accessible PowerPoint presentations:

  • Enable live captions (link opens in a new window) to transcribe your words as you present.
  • Fill in the metadata (author, title, tags) in the file properties.
  • Every slide must have a unique title.
  • Use consistent fonts and font sizes.
  • Avoid using slide transitions, animations, or automatic slide transitions.
  • Try not to overcrowd slides with too much content.
  • Delete any empty paragraphs, bullets or lists and unnecessary or empty elements on each slide.
  • Transcripts are the minimum requirement for audio or video files. Ensure every audio and video file in your document has a transcript.
  • Complex graphics should be described in the body of a slide or on an appendix slide.
  • Do not use flashing or blinking objects in a PowerPoint presentation.

Please visit our Accessible PDF resources (link opens in a new window) section or RADR’s guidelines for accessible PowerPoints (link opens in a new window) to explore additional resources and best practices for generating accessible PDF files.

Sensus Access

SensusAccess (link opens in a new window) is a self-service solution that automates the conversion of documents into a range of alternative formats including digital Braille, MP3, DAISY and e-books. The service can also be used to remediate otherwise inaccessible documents such as image-only PDF files or scanned images into more accessible formats.

Creating Accessible Media

When uploading “talking head” videos with no important visual information, consider providing an audio-only option. Video uses bandwidth that may impose additional charges on students. Use a tool like Audacity (link opens in a new window) to convert a video to audio. (NOTE: A transcript of all audio content is highly recommended.)

Kaltura

Kaltura (link opens in a new window) allows you to create, capture, edit and publish videos from anywhere! Automatic captioning is built in, but you should expect to edit the results for accuracy. Use Cielo24 (link opens in a new window) to facilitate the editing process.

If you need to present a live lecture or conference with your students, you can use BigBlueButton (link opens in a new window) from within Canvas. If you have a deaf or hard of hearing student on your roster, you will need to arrange a live CART transcriber (link opens in a new window) through ODS (link opens in a new window).

Google Slides

For instructors using ScarletApps, Google Slides allows you to present with automatic captions (link opens in a new window). Closed captions on YouTube (link opens in a new window) benefit deaf or hard of hearing viewers and allows your content to be found more easily via search engine. (Captions improve SEO.)

Additional Resources

If you would like more in-depth trainings and resources, please consider acquiring a free Deque University (link opens in a new window) license. Deque University is an industry-level training repository and research database focused singularly on accessibility. To get access to Deque University (link opens in a new window), please email accessibility@rutgers.edu. A staff member will then coordinate with Deque University on your behalf to provide you with a free account. OITA staff will then work with you to figure out which resources and training would be best for your role.

Training

The Office of IT Accessibility hosts regularly-scheduled trainings and workshops to help spread accessibility awareness and expertise across campus. Trainings include: Introduction to Accessibility; Accessibility 101 for Content Creators; Accessibility 101 for Developers; and the Assistive Technology Play Day. To learn more about OITA’s trainings, or to sign up for future trainings, please fill out the training signup form. Additionally, if you would like more individualized trainings, please email accessibility@rutgers.edu detailing your departmental needs and requests. OITA staff will then curate an individualized training for you and your team.