As an increasing number of our classes are digitally mediated, with the help of UC Davis Canvas and other tools, faculty are more frequently encountering the need for student accessibility with regard to our resources and class activities. Furthermore, a plethora of information (not all of it accurate) on accessibility can make designing accessible courses a seemingly overwhelming task.
As a graduate student researcher for Academic Technology Services at UC Davis, I am always on the lookout for professional development opportunities relating to accessibility and classroom technologies. I recently attended a webinar titled: “Accessibility: Fact or Fiction” sponsored by ID2ID, a cross-institutional peer mentoring program for instructional designers nationwide. In this webinar, Kelly Hermann, the Vice President of Accessibility Strategy for the University of Phoenix, explored common perceptions and misconceptions of accessibility as it relates to higher education. As I reviewed the useful information about accessibility, one key idea stood out to me as a helpful guiding principle for faculty: accessibility happens in the planning, while accommodation happens after the course launch.
Accessibility should be built into the design process when creating courses. Hermann offered the following non-negotiables for courses that are accessible and that should be implemented into the planning process before a course launches. These include the following, linked to their respective online resources from UC Davis and the UC Office of the President (UCOP):
UC Davis provides a variety of additional resources to support faculty as they design accessible courses. For more information on these resources, check out “Accessibility at UC Davis” as well as these sites on creating accessible content and courses.