Accessibility | Webster University


Webster University's Online Learning Center (OLC) works continuously to provide accessibility in its online courses. Using Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provides an international set of standards for all online content, the Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C), and Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM) as our guides, the OLC strives to design its courses with an approach to instruction that takes into account a variety of factors that could act as barriers to learning in the online environment.

Working in partnership with the Academic Resource Center, the OLC strives to ensure that all of its classes are accessible to all students, regardless of ability.

Below are eight guiding steps that the OLC keeps in mind when designing online content. Instructors who develop their own online courses should consider these as well. These steps are based on information from the Web Aim website and contain links to additional information about how to implement the ideas.

Universal Design in Action

Provide Appropriate Alternative Text

Alternative text provides a textual alternative to non-text content in web pages. It is especially helpful for people who are blind and rely on a screen reader to have the content of the website read to them.

Provide Appropriate Document Structure

Headings, lists, and other structural elements provide meaning and structure to web pages. They can also facilitate keyboard navigation within the page.

Provide Headers for Data Tables

Tables are used online for layout and to organize data. Tables that are used to organize tabular data should have appropriate table headers (the <th> element). Data cells should be associated with their appropriate headers, making it easier for screen reader users to navigate and understand the data table.

Ensure Links Make Sense out of Context

Every link should make sense if the link text is read by itself. Screen reader users may choose to read only the links on a web page. Certain phrases like "click here" and "more" must be avoided.

Caption and/or Provide Transcripts for Media

Videos and live audio must have captions and a transcript. With archived audio, a transcription may be sufficient.

  • Add captions to videos in Canvas

Ensure accessibility of non-HTML content, including PDF files, Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and Adobe Flash content.

In addition to all of the other guiding steps listed here, PDF documents, Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Adobe Flash, and other non-HTML content must be as accessible as possible. If you cannot make it accessible, consider using HTML instead or, at the very least, provide an accessible alternative. PDF documents should also include a series of tags to make it more accessible. A tagged PDF file looks the same, but it is almost always more accessible to a person using a screen reader.

Do not rely on color alone to convey meaning

The use of color can enhance comprehension, but do not use color alone to convey information. That information may not be available to a person who is colorblind and will be unavailable to screen reader users.

  • Use of color (Accessibility 101: Principles of Accessible Design)

Make sure content is clearly written and easy to read

There are many ways to make your content easier to understand. Limit the number of fonts, font sizes, and font variation to make reading easier for students.