Did you know?

Many free online tools are now available to check web accessibiltiy of sites and documents. Section 508 info is a useful tool.

Creating Accessible Office Documents

Here are some common accessibility issues and solutions for documents posted to Blackboard:

Screen reader software such as JAWS cannot successfully open Microsoft Word documents or RTF documents embedded in frames in web pages -- which is exactly the situation with Blackboard.

Solution: Open the Word or RTF document, select all, and copy and paste the information into a new Blackboard document -- effectively creating an HTML document rather than using Word.

Partial Solution: You can help by always labeling links to embedded Word or RTF documents, e.g.: Assignment 1.doc (Word format) this informs users that they will be opening a Word document. JAWS users will know that they need to go through some extra steps to successfully view it.

Not all students will have Microsoft Word installed.

Solution: Offer the same document in a .doc and a .html format.

Partial Solution: Provide a link somewhere on your page to the free downloadable Microsoft Word viewer or Microsoft Word for Macintosh viewer for visitors who might not have Microsoft Word.

Assessments (tests and quizzes) in Blackboard are said to be accessible, but in reality they are not usable by users who rely upon screen readers or other assistive technology.

Solution: Be prepared to provide Blackboard Assessments (tests and quizzes) in another format, specifically for users who are blind. For example, you could provide the same test questions in .txt format or Word format which could be posted as a link on the assessment page or made only available to that particular student.

Uploaded PowerPoint documents to Blackboard may not be accessible to users who rely upon screen readers or other assistive technology.

Solution: When posting a PowerPoint presentation, provide a second link to an accessible HTML version. Another option is to create an accessible PowerPoint file using something like LecShare. If the PowerPoint presentation has audio multimedia then captions and/or transcripts will be required. Check out  WebAim's recommendations for PowerPoint accessibility.

Online accessibility check software, such as The Wave , is unable to conduct usability and accessibility checks on pages within a Blackboard site. This is because the software cannot log in.

Solution: Use The Wave or another accessibility check software before posting or uploading the page(s) into Blackboard.

Adapted from College of the Redwoods

Useful Resources:

The Law Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportuniities for people with diabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals.

Wave is a free web accessibility evaluation tool. It is used to aid in the web accessibility evaluation process.

Last Modified 11/10/10