Accessibility & Disability

Advanced Academics Addresses Accessibility in Online Modules

A company that creates online learning programs for use in middle and high school education has begun the work of making its courses accessible. Advanced Academics said it has modified about 100 courses to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which specifically sets out accessibility requirements for technology to be used by the federal government. In this case, the developer was addressing features of its software to make them usable by students with hearing or visual impairment.

Changes include the addition of closed captioning in audiovisual course content. Transcripts of audiovisual content are also available, allowing hearing-impaired students to read information contained in videos and audio clips. A screen reader has been added to translate text into audio for visually impaired students. Students can navigate courses and read content by using keyboard functions to tab around the screen as an alternative to the use of a computer mouse, and transcripts are available for all video components. Finally, the organization changed the font and other design elements in its courses to assist colorblind students in reading text.

The revised courses recently received approval by the Digital Learning Department of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in the state of Washington.

The organization plans to release 50 additional courses compliant with Section 508 by the end of January 2012. The company's course catalog lists about 182 courses in total.

"This project was an enormous undertaking that involved people from across our organization," said company president Jeffrey Elliott. "Making our online courses available to hearing and visually impaired students supports Advanced Academics' mission to help all students graduate from high school and succeed in life."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.