.What is Accessibility?.

Accessibility is the degree to which a product, device, program, service, resource, or environment is available to a given user.  If a building on campus has a wheelchair ramp leading to its main entrance, that entrance is accessible to wheelchair users. If a lecture includes sign language interpreters, that lecture is accessible to attendees who are deaf or hard of hearing and who understand sign language.

.What is Accessible Technology?.

Accessible technology is technology that has been designed in a way so that it can be accessed by all users. This includes electronic documents, websites, software, hardware, video, audio, and other technologies. People who interact with technology are extremely diverse. They have a wide variety of characteristics, and we cannot assume that they’re all using a traditional monitor for output, or keyboard and mouse for input.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) summarizes web accessibility nicely in their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG). WCAG 2.0 is organized into the following four key concepts:

  • Web content must be perceivable
  • Web content must be operable
  • Web content must be understandable
  • Web content must be robust

.Designing Accessible Online Courses.

Technology is increasingly used in delivering academic courses and resources. Some courses are offered completely online; others combine on-site and online components into a hybrid format.

It is important to ensure components of a course are accessible to and usable by all students. These include documents, videos, and websites. These digital resources often need to be remediated for accessibility as an accommodation to one or more students with disabilities.  This presents tremendous challenges for faculty and staff, and creates a burden for students as they fall behind while waiting for accessible resources. Therefore, it is always best to proactively ensure all digital resources are accessible from the onset.  This enables all students with and without disabilities to participate fully in the course, and the accessibility solutions often benefits all students. Please see the Technology for Online Teaching page of this guide for specifics.

-- Adapted From University of Washington's Accessible Technology Website