Accessibility Tips When Teaching Online

Teaching online presents new opportunities and flexibility for both faculty and students. The online mode can also present barriers for learners. This resource offers some tips to minimize barriers by making content accessible for everyone and offering an inclusive environment.

When new online courses are developed in collaboration with the UWB-IT Digital Learning, the expertise of the team members help ensure that courses are accessible. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact us at uwbit@uw.edu.

General Best Practices

The following are only a few of the best practices that instructors can implement in their online and hybrid classes.

  • Take accessibility into account when selecting course textbooks and other materials.
  • Chunk information to provide clear, concise language in manageable sections that is easy to comprehend.
  • Use clear, consistent course navigation and hide unused items form the course menu.
    Note: the following options are needed for functionalilty and are invisible to students, so there is no reason to hide them.
    • Add UW People
    • Add & Manage UW Groups
    • View Student Photos
  • Have clear communication of expectations, deadlines, and other course policies.
  • If you have forms that students need to fill out, use properly formatted Word documents or Google forms instead of PDFs.

5 Tips for Teaching Online

  1. Provide well-formatted PowerPoint or Google slides and Word or Google documents and minimize the use of PDFs. Whenever possible, add content directly to Canvas pages.
  2. Use Library persistent links (permalinks) for articles or other electronic materials instead of uploading its PDF to the course.
  3. Add alternative text (alt text) to all images, including figures and charts.
  4. Use descriptive links instead of "click here" or the full URL.
  5. Always provide captions for video or transcripts for audio content or select premade content that is captioned or transcribed. For library content, consult with a Librarian.

If you are new to accessibility or to see additional resources, see the Getting Started with Accessibility UW resource.