Accessibility questions to ask a publisher when considering materials for your course
Indiana University is committed to maintaining an environment free of discrimination, including ensuring that equal access to IU's educational programs and services is provided to all qualified individuals regardless of disability. This commitment is stated in IU's Americans with Disabilities Act Policy (UA-02).
If the online materials and/or software provided by a publisher for use in a course are not accessible, the instructor will need to ensure an accessible, equally effective alternate learning experience can be provided for each inaccessible one should an individual with disabilities take the course. While there are processes for accommodating inaccessible course materials, it can be very resource- and time-consuming. Also, the experience will be better for students with disabilities when course materials are accessible to begin with.
Questions to ask publishers about the accessibility of their online tools and materials
Following are some useful questions to ask a publisher regarding the accessibility of digital course materials. You should record the publisher's responses, which will be helpful if a student with disabilities enrolls in your course.
Are the videos captioned and audio recordings transcribed?
Audio content should have transcripts, and video content should have captions. If not, ask if the publisher can provide captions or transcripts in a timely matter, if needed by a student in your class.
Can all of the text displayed on the screen be read aloud by text-to-speech software, and are the images and videos described for the visually impaired?
An individual with vision impairments will often use a piece of assistive software called a screen reader. Screen reading software can read digital text aloud, but it cannot interpret images or text presented in videos. Content presented as images or video requires suitable alternate text descriptions in order for the screen reader user to have access to the information.
Can all interactive exercises (media players, quizzes, flashcards, etc.) be completed by keyboard alone (no mouse required)?
People who are blind or those who have certain mobility disabilities cannot use a mouse. Instead, they rely on the keyboard to interact with websites and software. Because of this, it is required that interactive elements on a website or in software can be controlled successfully if only using a keyboard.
For example, if an interactive exercise requires one to drag and drop items and there is no way to perform the task using only the keyboard, it should not be used in your course.
Is there any documentation available (for example, VPAT or online accessibility help) that details accessibility testing results?
A VPAT is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. Many companies use these to report the accessibility of their products. Do not rely solely on verbal claims of accessibility. If the publisher cannot produce a VPAT or any test results confirming the accessibility of its online and/or software products, then it is possible the publisher is not considering accessibility in the design of its products. Thus, the products may be inaccessible to individuals with disabilities.
If the textbook is not accessible, is the publisher willing to provide an accessible alternative?
Some publishers may have an accessible version of an eText that they will provide when requested. If a textbook is inaccessible, ask your publisher if they can provide an accessible alternative for that textbook.
What are the differences between the accessible version of the textbook and the original?
If a textbook is inaccessible and the publisher can provide an accessible alternative, it is important to know what, if any, differences there are between the two versions. For instance, does the accessible version of the textbook have all the video content and formative assessments present in the original version of the textbook. If not, it is necessary to know what is missing and provide appropriate alternatives if that material is used in your course.
If the accessibility of a publisher's eText, online, or software product is unknown or is known to be inaccessible
You should carefully plan how to provide equally effective accessible alternatives before relying on potentially inaccessible products as an essential part of a course. Accommodations and alternate versions can take considerable time to prepare.
If you have a student with a disability in your course and the accessibility of a course component is a concern, contact your campus office for students with disabilities immediately. To find the contact information for the appropriate office, visit ADA@IU and select the link for your campus.