Instructional Technology and Design Services (ITDS) is committed to making our electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. Our Disability Resource Center has more information.
ITDS has created a set of tutorials and documentation for faculty and staff in order to assist in the preparation of accessible course materials. This includes a Self-paced Accessibility Online Training Course in Canvas. You can enroll by selecting the “Join this Course” option in the lower right corner of the course home page. You can also register for our accessibility workshops where you will get hands-on training in how to make MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF documents accessible to all users, including an accessible syllabus in both MS Word and PDF versions.
Below are additional resources for making your course materials accessible to all users:
Accessible Documents and Instructional Materials
All course materials should be posted in an accessible format. We’ve outlined some actions you can take to ensure your courses are accessible to all students. In addition, Montclair State has an accessible course syllabus available for download in the Microsoft Word format. This follows best practices, as explained below, to ensure this critical document is accessible to all students.
Run the Microsoft Word Accessibility Checker after taking the steps below.
- Word: Use heading styles and ALT text for images.
See also: Make your Word documents accessible.
- PowerPoint: Use built-in slide layout templates and add ALT text for images.
- Excel: Specify column headers. Run the Microsoft Excel Accessibility Checker.
- Use the Canvas Accessibility Checker – The Accessibility Checker verifies content created within the Rich Content Editor to check on common accessibility issues.
- Ally for Canvas is embedded in all Montclair State Canvas courses and automatically checks for accessibility issues and generates alternative accessible formats. Ally also guides instructors on how to improve the accessibility of course content.
- Use Canvas to provide extended time on quizzes for students who need it.
- Canvas can also allow for differentiated assignments.
- When offering Canvas conferencing sessions, share presentation materials prior to the live session to ensure students can access them. Other accommodations may be required based on students’ needs such as live captioning or alternative content formats.
- Review the Canvas General Accessibility Design Guidelines
If you are converting your documents from MS Word to PDF:
- Review Google’s Accessibility for Docs editors. The Google Docs editors are designed to work with screen readers, braille devices, screen magnification, and more.
- All images and graphics need alternative text descriptions (e.g. “alt”) which allow visually impaired students to understand what they represent. WebAIM examples of alt text.
- Accessible Charts (use visuals to convey complex ideas to users – from Penn State).
- Equations (how to make math equations accessible – from Penn State)
- Use headings to make pages easy to navigate.
- Font size should be larger than 10pt to ensure legibility.
- Links should be labeled in a descriptive way. Avoid “click here” or URLs to web addresses.
- Tables should be formatted to include row and column headers.
- Color alone should not be used to convey important information. If you use color to convey important information, also use pattern, shape, or labels to provide that information to the color blind.
- Ensure color contrast is strong.
- Audio files should include transcripts.
- All videos should have captions.
- Panopto is an all-in-one video platform. It not only provides desktop lecture recording and automatic captioning services, but also offers pedagogical features to add learning interactions within a video. It is also seamlessly integrated with Canvas. You can review our documentation for both the PC (Windows) and Mac (Apple) or attend a training workshop. Students can also create Panopto recordings in your Canvas course. For more details, please review our documentation for student use of Panopto: Panopto Recordings for Students and Panopto Assignments for Students.
Use a sans serif font such as Arial, Helvetica or Verdana, 12 point or larger and left aligned.
Use the link tool instead of copying and pasting the URL. First, click on the Insert Link icon; next, type a meaningful descriptive title for the link under Text to display, then paste the URL under Web Address.
Pictures and graphs within an email must include alternative text or descriptions.
For additional guidance please consult with the Montclair State Disability Resource Center.
Screen Readers and Text to Speech:
NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access), is a free “screen reader” which enables blind and vision impaired people to use computers.
JAWS (Job Access With Speech), is the world’s most popular screen reader, developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content.
Window-Eyes: Students utilizing a licensed version of MS Office 2010 or later on a Windows computer, can utilize the Window-Eyes screen reader for free.
Zoomtext is a magnification and screen reading software for the visually impaired.
Speech to Text:
Voice Notebook is Google Chrome extension that works with Canvas. It allows you to right click on any text box in Canvas so that you can speak and it will translate it to text.
The following resources can help you check course webpages and materials to see how accessible they may be to students with disabilities:
Canvas: Accessibility in your Course
WebAIM provides a detailed checklist to ensure Section 508 compliance in online materials.
Interactive Accessibility Checklist
Cynthia Says Accessibility Checker
Vischeck (color blindness simulator)
W3C Accessibility Resources
WAVE Accessibility Checker
Accessibility checker at Sacramento State
Review Montclair State’s Tutorials for Microsoft Office and PDF tools.
- Accessible Technology Resources for Teaching and Learning from the California State University
- As High-Tech Teaching Catches On, Students With Disabilities Can Be Left Behind, By Casey Fabris
- Assistive Technology Examples
- Zoom Text
- Interactive Accessibility
- Texas Tech University Online Accessibility
- Accessibility and Usability at Penn State
- Information Technology (IT) Accessibility at the University of Michigan
- Temple University’s Accessible Technology Resources