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Education Technology - Online Accessibility at Lehman College

About Online Accessibility

To meet basic accessibility standards for online coursework and websites, the School of Education technology team reviewed and analyzed ADA (American with Disabilities Act) resources and regulations. With guidance from many other colleges and organizations, and interpreting the standards written for web content authors and technologists, we implemented success criteria and accessibility technology techniques for our online teacher certification modules. By summarizing our journey, sharing lessons learned, checklists and resources for ADA compliance, we hope faculty and technologists will improve accessibility in online coursework for blind and visually impaired students, deaf and hard of hearing students, as well as English Language learners.

The School of Education was awarded CUNY Strategic Technology Initiative (STI) funding to improve accessibility of our online test-prep modules. Dedicated to recruiting, preparing, and retaining teachers in our urban classrooms, Lehman College School of Education designed self-paced, online Teacher Certification Test Preparation modules that are now available to education students across fifteen City University of New York (CUNY) campuses.

With the STI funding, we revisited our modules and considered how to ensure they were ADA compliant. Although challenging, we looked closely at various technologies including, but not limited to, Blackboard, Softchalk, Adobe Acrobat, 3PlayMedia and Yuja. We researched, designed and implemented a checklist of best practices in ADA compliance. We learned that there are many expert and excellent resources available about HOW TO improve ADA compliance in online coursework, which we summarize on our Accessibility Resources section.

Through the lens of our online coursework and lessons learned, our goal is to demonstrate WHY you should address these issues. For example, on our Accessibility Checklist for the Blind & Visually Impaired we provide videos of a student navigating our coursework with a screen reader.

Project Goals

With the goal to guide faculty, instructors and instructional technologists to improve online coursework, we:

  • Share examples of lessons learned related to basic accessibility features.
  • Demonstrate WHY online accessibility is important.
  • Describe PASS and FAIL interpretations of online practices.
  • Showcase improvement of features that do not require any coding expertise. Using screen shots from our coursework, you will see common errors and easy improvements.
  • Share links to expert and excellent user guides. Blackboard, Softchalk, Word all have guides for improving compliance.
  • Adapt the WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind) website checklist, using their interpretations of some Section 508 standards from the Rehabilitation Act §1194.22.

NOTE: Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology describes the technical criteria and requirements that address access needs for people with various disABILITIES. It is part of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Section 508 requirements are extensive.

About Our Online Test Preparation Modules

Dedicated to recruiting, preparing and retaining teachers in our urban classrooms, Lehman College School of Education designed self-paced, online Teacher Certification Test Preparation modules that are available via Blackboard (Bb) to education students across fifteen City University of New York (CUNY) campuses. Teacher candidates have always needed to pass exams to recieve New York State certification. However, in recent years, several rigorous new exams changed the focus and content of the requirements raising the bar for students and teacher education programs. Teams of Lehman College faculty from different disciplines worked collaboratively with educational technologists to create these online modules designed to support student learning and review for the exams. They can be used in coursework or self-paced independently.

In December 2016, Leslie Lieman, Educational Technology Coordinator, created and presented the video below introducing our project, challenges and lessons learned at the 15th Annual CUNY IT Conference at John Jay College, NY. In Spring 2017, a follow-up presentation was given at the 8th Annual CUNY Accessibility Conference at John Jay, and the issues were discussed on a Technology & Innovations in Accessibility panel at the 2017 Building Bridges Conference, Baruch College, NY. Recommendations and development of this Online Accessibility website concludes the official Strategic Technology Initiative project. However, helping faculty understand the purpose, value and improvements that can be made in online coursework using these resources will continue in workshops, presentations and conversations.

ADA Compliance Presentation Transcript (PDF). As an example of a readable PDF, this is accessible by Jaws, System Access, Voiceover on iPhone and Mac.

School of Education Strategic Technology Initiative Team

  • School of Education Strategic Technology Initiative Team
  • Leslie Lieman, Education Technology Coordinator
  • Naliza Sadik, Education Technology Assistant
  • William Medina, College Assistant
  • Crystal Negron, College Assistant
  • Kahalia Stanberry, College Assistant
  • Thanks in final phase to: Sharanjit Sahi, Web Designer/Developer