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What is Accessibility?

If a web page, system, or service is said to be accessible, it is understood to have taken measures to be usable by the widest audience possible regardless of individual ability or disability.  Many web sites today take care to provide equal access and opportunity so that people with disabilities can understand, navigate, and interact with the Internet. However, just because a system or service such as Villanova's LMS conforms with certain accessibility standards that does not necessarily mean that the content loaded by faculty and other users is itself accessible; these systems provide the framework for accessibility but content developed for instruction must also be accessible.  




Why design for Accessibility?

As educators we all share the responsibility to make sure that content is available to all of our students.  Equally important; web accessibility is required by law in some cases.  Instructional Designers are available to help guide faculty towards making reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.  

Technology Framework for Accessibility


Blackboard Learn 9.1 is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (U.S. Government) compliant and supports universal design and accessibility standards. In 2012 the Blackboard Learn System was recognized by Deque Systems to be in conformance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Blackboard is also certified by The National Federation of the Blind with a Gold Level Certification for Non-Visual Access.

Blackboard contains several communication options with messages sent between faculty and students via the “My Messages” tool, email, or discussion tools. Concepts can be assessed by using the “Assignment” tool, which allow students to reply using either the Content Editor (supports: common keyboard shortcuts as well as a full set of formatting toolbars that can be accessed at any time by pressing either Alt+F10 on a PC or Alt+Fn+F10 on a Mac) or letting the students upload a file of their choice. Examinations delivered through the “Quiz” tool can be modified to easily support students who require extra or non-timed assessments.

Additional Blackboard Resources:
Blackboard Commitment to Accessibility
Blackboard's Accessibility features


MediaSite is also used to capture lectures in an asynchronous format. MediaSite lectures can be transcribed and transcriptions matched to video output. These recordings are flexible and can capture video or audio of the instructor along with their computer output. MediaSite supports assistive technologies. Their interface supports screen readers, keyboard shortcuts and has zoom capabilities that allow users to magnify both video and slide content. Additionally an mp3 of the lecture can be downloaded. MediaSite lectures can also be transcribed and Closed Captioned.

Adobe Connect also supports screen readers and various keystrokes for the visually impaired. A closed captioning pod can be integrated for students with hearing disabilities.

Additional Resources

Meet PDF accessibility standards





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