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Accessibility Center Assists Faculty Transitioning to Online Teaching

April 23, 2020

Isolation, online learning conceptAs the entire California Community Colleges (CCC) moves to delivery of classes at a distance, the need to ensure instructional materials are accessible for all students has come into sharp focus. To assist colleges as they make the transition to online classrooms, the CCC Accessibility Center, with support from the Chancellor’s Office, has increased its communication of accessibility best practices.

The communication effort is focused around guidance from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) that applies to all educational institutions, said Accessibility Center Director Sean Keegan.

“The OCR recently released a YouTube video describing what accessibility means for schools and colleges in the context of online education and website accessibility,” Keegan said. “We are working in partnership with our fellow CCC grant projects to define and promote those best practices to support access for all students in the online environment.”

Canvas Webinar Series

A series of 12 webinars held in March focused on accessibility compliance for online instruction. The webinars were well received and well attended by faculty statewide. Hosted by the Accessibility Center in collaboration with @ONE, the sessions focused on basic accessibility best practices for the Canvas course platform and strategies to move face-to-face content into an online course.

Each one-hour session averaged 50 attendees, with peak attendance of 92. A general request to provide feedback in the Chat resulted in an overall positive response, with most participants stating that the information was very helpful.

“Thank you for making an overwhelming topic very learnable,” said one attendee.

New Web Resources

As a complement to the webinars, and as an ongoing feature, a robust collection of Canvas Accessibility resources and best practices has been added to the Accessibility Center website, geared toward all faculty and online instructors, whether they are new to remote teaching or teaching an established online course. The web pages provide guidance for ensuring accessibility of content added to Canvas courses, steps for creating accessible Canvas pages and other media, links to resources provided by the California Virtual Campus-Online Education Initiative, and more.

In addition to providing resources for integrating accessibility into online instruction, the Accessibility Center offers training and technical assistance on a variety of accessibility-specific topics, including web accessibility, the use of assistive computer technologies, and the creation of alternate formats.

Summer Workshop Goes Virtual

Among the center’s more popular offerings is a twice-annual (winter and summer) Accessibility Workshop, presented back-to-back with the Information Security Workshop. Normally held in-person, alternating between locations in the north and south, the summer workshops this year will be offered exclusively online on June 15 and 16.

The decision to move to a virtual format came in light of an extended statewide order to maintain physical distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. While holding virtual workshop sessions has been considered in the past, this will be the first time the workshops have been presented online.

The workshops are geared specifically toward CCC personnel, and are free to attend. Visit the workshops event page for more information and to register.

More resources, tools, and training opportunities in support of IT accessibility can be found at CCCAccessibility.org.