ADA Compliance

What is ADA Compliance?

The Department of Justice (DOJ) published the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design in September 2010. These standards state that all electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities.

The ADA differs from Section 508 regulations, which are an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and apply to all information technology, including computer hardware, software and documentation.

Accessibility Web Content Quick Guide Checklist

You can self‐evaluate the content of your course using this form. Web content includes the Brightspace items or pages you created using the content editor, but not any attached files.
Download the accessible web content checklist

What Can You Do to Make Your Courses More ADA Compliant?

Clear Layout and Design: The different parts of a web page need to be easy to locate and identify. Sometimes it is not easy to identify things like navigation menus, links, and content. Labels may be difficult to identify and associate with their corresponding form fields and controls.

Understandable Content: Content needs to be easy to follow and understand. For most content, this means simply avoiding overly complex sentences and jargon, and providing clear layout and design. For some complex content such as medical information, separate, easy-to-read information may be necessary.

Colors with Good Contrast: There needs to be sufficient contrast between text color and its background (technically called luminosity contrast ratio). This includes text on images, icons, and buttons. Too little contrast makes the content difficult for some people to read. (While some people need high contrast, some people are sensitive to brightness and need to change the colors.)

Video Captions: Captions are a text form of everything that is spoken in the audio as well as other important audio information. This could include information about who is speaking if it is not visible, sound effects, music, laughter, etc. Captions are synchronized with the visual content. All audio played with visual content needs to be captioned, including video and animations.

Best Practices Through Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles and techniques for creating inclusive classroom instruction and accessible course materials. At its core is the assertion that all students benefit when they are given multiples ways to take in new information, express their comprehension, and become engaged in learning. This video features faculty and students at Colorado State University describing the benefits of UDL. Includes captions.

How People with Disabilities Use the Web: Overview
This resource introduces how people with disabilities, including people with age-related impairments, use the Web. It describes tools and approaches that people with different kinds of disabilities use to browse the Web and the barriers they encounter due to poor design. It helps developers, designers, and others to understand the principles for creating accessible websites, web applications, browsers, and other web tools.

Keeping Web Accessibility in Mind

At the heart of UDL is the commitment to inclusive pedagogy. Those involved in the educational process have a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure that instructional materials are accessible. Federal and state laws hold institutions of higher learning legally responsible for accessible course content.

Design adjustments to consider:

  • Add text to your images.
    Many websites include images. However, if there is no text to identify the image, a blind person's screen reader could not identify the image. The user would not have any way of knowing if the image is a logo, link to another page or simply a stock photo.
    For example, a state website may have a picture of the governor. The blind person should be able to use their screen reader to go over the image and hear, "photo of the Governor [name]."
  • Don't use image-based PDFs.
    Another simple adjustment you could make is to not post scanned document images in PDF format. Image-based formats are challenging to the visually impaired because they cannot be read by screen readers or text enlargement programs.
    All posted PDFs should be tagged, have optical character recognition performed on them, and be searchable.
  • Allow for adjustments in color and font size.
    Web designers often design in such a way that does not allow the user to adjust font size or color. While they may be protecting their brand, they are also inhibiting some users. Many visually impaired need to use high contrast color settings or very large fonts to read a website. Don't design your website in a way that makes it impossible for them to do this.
  • Enhance your multimedia.
    Make images and video more accessible by adding audio descriptions to images, including narration of changes in setting, gesturing and other details. In addition, add text captions for the deaf.

Accessibility Checklist
This Quick Accessibility Checklist is meant to help faculty and staff who want to develop or modify Web-based course material, lectures, and assignments in an accessible way.

W3C Quick Guide
A customizable quick reference to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 requirements (success criteria) and techniques.

Tips W3C
This page introduces some basic considerations to help you get started writing web content that is more accessible to people with disabilities. These tips are good practice to help you meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) requirements. Follow the links to the related WCAG requirements, detailed background in the "Understanding" document, guidance from Tutorials, user stories, and more.


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