How to make your blackboard learn course accessible
Creating an accessible course in Blackboard Learn requires consideration of two elements; the design of the site and the format of materials uploaded to the site. Below are some suggestions for faculty for making a Blackboard Learn course more accessible for students with disabilities.
- Include alternative (alt) text for all non-textual items. This allows students with visual impairments to hear a description of the graphics on the screen when utilizing a screen reader. Without alt text, screen readers will either skip over the image entirely, or describe a nonsensical line of text that is automatically generated when a picture is inserted into a file. Alt text is also displayed in place of the image in browsers if the image doesn't load properly or when a user chooses not to display images within their browser. Examples include, "sunset over the horizon", "baby crying" or "person at desk using computer". Learn more about how to write Alternative Text at the WebAIM site.
- Use descriptive names for file uploads. Using descriptive names for uploaded files allows screen readers to give a student with a visual impairment quality information about the document they are going to open. For example, "Assignment #3 – Case study on the topic of students with disabilities" rather than, "Assignment #3".
- Consider contrasts when applying themes or designs to your Blackboard Learn site. Maintaining high contrasting colors on your site allow students with low-vision and other visual impairments to more accurately interpret data. Please refer to WebAIM’s Color Contrast Checker for testing contrasting colors.
- Audio and/or video files containing speech should be accompanied by a text equivalent, whether that be through a transcript or through captioning. This includes narrated PowerPoint Presentations. For more information, please review the 'Closed-Captioned Videos' section of our website.
- Attached and uploaded files must also be accessible for students with disabilities. Please keep in mind, that documents created without accessibility in mind will oftentimes be completely inaccessible by a screen reader. In some instances, the screen reader will only interpret one or two words on the page and in others, the screen reader will not recognize any information on the page, interpreting it as “blank”. For more information on creating accessible documents, please review the 'Accessibility of Course Content' section of our website.
- Make sure to provide clear expectations and instructions for your students. Students with learning disabilities and psychological disabilities may have difficulty with concentration, focus and organization skills. Providing clear expectations and easy to understand instructions in your Blackboard Learn course will make these students much more likely to navigate the course information and assignments.