Before you create a new OER, or a new edition of an existing OER, plan on addressing the accessibility of your material to students with disabilities during the creation process. It is much more work to make a non-accessible OER accessible than it is to just create an accessible OER at the start.
Keep these factors in mind:
- Will the software used to view the OER disable the accessibility features of the computer’s operating system (Windows, Mac OSX, Linux)?
- For varied reasons, some software disables operating system accessibility features, such as zoom, text-to-speech, and speech-to-text. Accessible OER must avoid this software.
- Is the software used to view the OER compatible with most assistive devices?
- There are computer peripherals, especially for the paralyzed, that function in ways outside of the normal keyboard and mouse.
- Is there text identification of non-text elements?
- Text-to-speech screen readers for the blind can read alternative descriptions of items like images. For example, if you are making an OER using HTML, be sure to include the descriptions for images.
- Is all text in the OER recognizable to a computer as text?
- For PDFs, accurate optical character recognition (OCR) is often required to make text understandable to a computer. Screen-readers and highlighters require textual information, like OCR, for all text displayed.
- Is the OER accessible by the colorblind?
- If you have color-dependent information, be sure that either alternative methods of recognition (such as differing patterns) are present, or that the color and contrast can be fully adjusted for the colorblind.
- Is the OER available in accessibility-focused formats?
- While not completely required due to the functionality of assistive devices and screen readers, editions of the OER translated to Braille or converted to the DAISY accessible format would help more people in understanding the resource.
MERLOT has an OER and Accessibility community with its own Authoring Accessible OER page. More information on accessibility and the USG, including our partnership with AMAC Accessibility Solutions, can be found in our Accessibility page.
1. What options does your institution have for making currently-inaccessible documents into accessible ones? If you are unfamiliar with this practice, see if your campus has a Disability Services Office or Access Office.
2. The OER community often states that accessibility goes beyond disabilities and into the realm of cost - that access for all means open, free access for all. Do you see cost as an access issue with your students?
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