Accessibility of Instructional Content

To ensure equal access to instructional content by students with disabilities, the CUNY Council on Student Disability Issues provides a Faculty Guide to Teaching Students with Disabilities. On this web page you will find tips and resources on improving accessibility of your instructional content posted on Blackboard and other websites based on the Faculty Guide and the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

For instructional content in Text format:

  • If possible, provide document in PDF format. Although text in .doc or .docx files can be read by a screen reader, some students may not have Microsoft Word installed on their computers.
  • Scanned PDF files cannot be read by a screen reader. If you only have a hard copy for a piece of content, provide the students who have visual impairment with a hard copy and advise them to go to the Office of Students with Disabilities (AC-1G02) where they can use a CCTV to read enlarged text on a screen.
  • Make sure the contrast between the color of the text and that of the background is appropriate so that it is not difficult on the eyes.
  • When colored text has special meaning, describe the meaning in text so that the students who are color blind understand the information.
  • Both Windows and Mac have native OS features to increase text size. All web browsers have “Zoom in” feature. Free virtual magnifying glass for Windows, Mac, etc. can be downloaded here

For instructional content that has Auditory information:

When the information is represented in an audio or video file such as voice-over-PowerPoint, screencast, alternative representations should be provided.  Here are a few options.

  • Find the same content in text format such as an article or a book chapter.
  • If it is a video, post it on YouTube (if you don’t want search engines to index it, choose “unlisted”).  YouTube generates closed caption (cc) for your video automatically a few hours after you upload it.  Then edit the captions for accuracy by following the steps in this tutorial.  It is easier than you think!
  • Create a transcript for your audio or video. If you create the transcript first and use it to do the recording, it could save your time to edit or re-do the recording.
  • Use assistive technology to add captions or subtitles. See more details in the “Assistive Technology Software Applications” section.

For instructional content that has Visual information:

When the information is represented in images, graphics or videos, non-visual alternatives should be provided.

  • When inserting an image in your Blackboard course site, add a title and description for the image in the appropriate text fields as shown below. Other web platforms have similar features. Screen readers can read image descriptions and titles.

 Blackboard Add Image Dialogue Box

  • To convey perspective or interaction, physical objects or spatial models can be used.
  • Provide auditory cues for complex ideas or key concepts represented in images or graphics.

Free Assistive Technology Software Applications

  • Speech recognition programs - both Windows 7 and 8 as well as Mac have pre-installed software that comes with the operating system.
  • Magnifier - both Windows and Mac have native OS features to increase text size. All web  browsers have “Zoom in” feature. Free virtual magnifying glass for Windows, Mac, etc. can be downloaded here.
  • A good catalogue of additional resources can be discovered here.

Tutorials on how to use some of the assistive technology software applications