When considering materials for my course, what accessibility questions should I ask a publisher?

Indiana University is committed to maintaining an environment free of discrimination, including ensuring that equal access to IU's educational programs and services is provided to all qualified individuals regardless of disability. This commitment is stated in University Policy UA-02: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Policy.

If the online materials and/or software provided by a publisher for use in a course are not accessible, the instructor will need to ensure an accessible, equally effective alternate learning experience can be provided for each inaccessible one should an individual with disabilities take the course. While there are processes for accommodating inaccessible course materials, it can be very resource- and time-consuming. Also, the experience will be better for students with disabilities when course materials are accessible to begin with.

Questions to ask publishers about the accessibility of their online tools and materials

Following are some useful questions to ask a publisher regarding the accessibility of digital course materials. You should record the publisher's responses, which will be helpful if a student with disabilities enrolls in your course.

Note:
While the larger textbook publishers supplying to public schools in the United States should be able to answer the following questions, not all publishers will. Asking these questions will ensure that the publishers know of IU's interest in purchasing accessible information technology, and hopefully put delivering accessible products on their radar if it is not already.

Are the videos captioned and audio recordings transcribed?

Audio content should have transcripts, and video content should have captions. If not, ask if the publisher can provide captions or transcripts in a timely matter, if needed by a student in your class.

Can all of the text displayed on the screen be read aloud by text-to-speech software, and are the images and videos described for the visually impaired?

An individual with vision impairments will often use a piece of assistive software called a screen reader. Screen reading software can read digital text aloud, but it cannot interpret images or text presented in videos. Content presented as images or video requires suitable alternate text descriptions in order for the screen reader user to have access to the information.

Can all interactive exercises (media players, quizzes, flashcards, etc.) be completed by keyboard alone (no mouse required)?

People who are blind or those who have certain mobility disabilities cannot use a mouse. Instead, they rely on the keyboard to interact with websites and software. Because of this, it is required that interactive elements on a website or in software can be controlled successfully if only using a keyboard.

For example, if an interactive exercise requires one to drag and drop items and there is no way to perform the task using only the keyboard, it should not be used in your course.

Is there any documentation available (e.g., VPAT or online accessibility help) that details accessibility testing results?

A VPAT is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. Many companies use these to report the accessibility of their products. Do not rely solely on verbal claims of accessibility. If the publisher cannot produce a VPAT or any test results confirming the accessibility of its online and/or software products, then it is possible the publisher is not considering accessibility in the design of its products. Thus, the products may be inaccessible to individuals with disabilities.

If the accessibility of a publisher's eText, online, or software product is unknown or is known to be inaccessible

You should carefully plan how to provide equally effective accessible alternatives before relying on potentially inaccessible products as an essential part of a course. Accommodations and alternate versions can take considerable time to prepare.

If you have a student with a disability in your course and the accessibility of a course component is a concern, contact your campus office for students with disabilities immediately. To find the contact information for the appropriate office, visit ADA@IU and select the link for your campus.

This is document bfuo in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2017-07-31 12:00:58.

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