Working to Ensure Section 508 Compliance for Course Accessibility
In building online course materials it is important to bear in mind that, as a public university receiving federal funding through the Assistive Technology Act, Rutgers is required to meet Section 508 standards for web-based intranet and internet information and applications. Conforming to these standards requires that materials that would pose problems for students with disabilities need to be altered to accommodate the disabled. Examples of materials that would require accommodations would include:
- Videos that have audio would need captioning and text transcripts
- Audio files would need text transcripts
- Images should have alternate text or descriptions set for them to convey meaning
- Color-blind individuals should be able to interpret a page successfully
- HTML tables should use the <th> tags to designate column and row headers
The Rutgers University Office of Disability Services recommends all faculty include the following in their course syllabi:
Rutgers University welcomes students with disabilities into all of the University's educational programs. In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, a student with a disability must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: https://ods.rutgers.edu/students/documentation-guidelines. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with a Letter of Accommodations. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. To begin this process, please complete the Registration form on the ODS web site at: https://ods.rutgers.edu/students/registration-form.
If you are creating content for your course using MS Office, there are separate tools which may help you check for compliance. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a good article with details: How to Create Accessible Documents.
If you are looking for detailed instructions on creating accessible web content, the materials available at the University of Washington's Web Accessibility 101 course.
The University of Washington has a video which conveys what a student with disabilities may experience with components in a course that do not meet Section 508 standards. These materials are available at: Making Distance Learning Accessible to Everyone Video.
For a detailed description of the 508 standards for web design and online educational materials see: Summary of Section 508 Standards, GSA 508 Tutorials, Guidance, Checklists, US Patent & Trademark Office's Section 508 Reference Guide E-Learning and Multimedia.