Section 10: Course Accessibility

When students interact with your online course, can they easily access and interact with all course content, activities, and assessments? This includes the information found in your LMS, Publisher Portal, and any additional items. ​

In addition, all course materials also need to reflect principles of accessibility and include documents and PowerPoints.​

Faculty, responsible for course development, must provide accessible digital content to ensure that all students can participate in courses. Through consultation with expert instructional designers and technologists, and supported by FPDS, faculty produce engaging, accessible courses that remove barriers and support student success.​


It can be simply defined as “the ability to access”, but more specifically it is about ensuring that people can perceive, understand, operate, and interact with the web. When we talk about accessibility, we are talking about encompassing all disabilities that affect access online. This includes auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual.
HCC is committed to compliance with all other applicable laws prohibiting disability discrimination. The College’s nondiscrimination policy covers admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in College programs, services, and activities.

Key Legislation

Two disability-related civil rights laws govern the obligations of postsecondary institutions with respect to the accessibility of digital learning materials and online courses.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all post-secondary institutions that receive federal funding, including schools that accept federal financial aid. Under Section 504, post-secondary institutions must provide “appropriate adjustments and provide reasonable accommodations that allow students with disabilities full participation in activities and programs available to students without disabilities.”
Section 508 amended the act and mandated that all electronic and information technology used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities and to use the WCAG guidelines.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

  • Title II of the ADA applies to all public colleges and universities.
  • Title III of the ADA applies to private colleges and universities.

Accessibility Standards

The standards in this section specifically focus on course accessibility. These standards not only provide best practices that make a course more engaging for all students, but are designed to comply with laws pertaining to accessibility for educational institutions.
For each of these standards, examples and materials have been provided to assist in attaining compliance. However, keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and further information pertaining to compliance with these standards is available.


Accessibility Checklist

See this Canvas Accessibility Checklist for a list of items to consider when making your course accessible. It includes links to tutorials about how to make your course accessible.
In general, the following items need to be considered when creating accessible course materials. This applies to Canvas pages, tools, Word documents, and PowerPoints.
  • Descriptive titles that identify purpose or topic
  • Heading levels that organize content
  • Lists and bullets that organize specifics
  • Alternative text for Images
  • Tables that organize data
  • Headers for table rows and columns
  • Descriptive Links
  • Font and color contrast selections that ensure readability

Blackboard Ally

Blackboard Ally
Blackboard Ally works with Canvas to gauge the accessibility of your course content. After you run an Ally Report, you will
  • Obtain feedback on the accessibility of your course.
  • Improve accessibility by following the instructions.
Ally helps you to build a more inclusive learning environment and improve the student experience by helping faculty take clear control of course content with usability, accessibility, and quality in mind.

Section 10 of HCC’s online course quality rubric contains these standards:


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HCC Online Course High Quality Standards by Hillsborough Community College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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