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Distance Learning | School of Professional Studies | Northwestern University

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Accessibility on the internet is a vast, complicated field, requiring non-disabled designers to consider ways of experiencing the internet that may be completely unfamiliar to them. Screen reader software reads digital content out loud, keyboard navigation allows for computer interaction without a mouse, interactive transcripts highlight text along with speech: millions of people use the internet by relying on these tools. Failure to design for these tools and alternate ways of interacting leads to inaccessible content, which means that large populations of users may be unable to engage with the information being shared.

As educators, it’s our responsibility to ensure that all of our students are able to fully access, engage with, and participate in our courses, no matter what tools they might be using. Just as we’d ensure that a wheelchair user would be able to use a physical classroom through elevators, ramps, and elevated desks, we have to ensure that students using tools like screen readers, keyboard navigation, and more are able to use a digital classroom. The pages in this section will give you the information you need to create a fully accessible course in Canvas.

If you’d like a quick reference checklist, check out our Accessible Courses in Canvas Checklist .

What is Web Accessibility?

Learn about the basics of web accessibility, including the globally accepted standards that guide all web designers and some of the assistive technology tools that disabled students might use in your courses.
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How do I make my writing and math accessible?

Written text is the core of any online course, and there are several simple steps that can be taken to make your writing accessible.
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How do I make my images accessible?

Images and graphics are important ways of conveying information, but students with visual disabilities may find it difficult or impossible to access this information. With alternative text descriptions, images can communicate with all users.
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How do I avoid accessibility issues with color and contrast?

Learn how to ensure that your use of color is accessible to all users, including colorblind, low vision, and blind users.
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How do I make my audio and video accessible?

Audio and video can be excellent ways of sharing conversations or demonstrating activities. In order to make sure all students can understand the information, though, steps must be taken to ensure they are accessible as well.
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How do I make my course resources and learning technologies accessible?

Textbooks, ebooks, PDFs, PowerPoints, and course technologies — all of these are valuable and vital course resources. It's important to make sure that these are accessible to all students too.
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How do I employ accessible teaching practices?

Evaluate your teaching practices for flexibility, inclusiveness, and accessibility to create a learning experience where all students can excel.
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What is inclusive course content and universal design?

Accessibility must ensure that course content is inclusive to students of all backgrounds and abilities. Universal design supports this goal by providing a framework for representation, expression, and engagement that reaches all students.
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Where can i find digital accessibility resources?

Learn more about accessibility with additional reference documents and training opportunities.
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