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About accessible courses and accessible course content

Organizing your course in a way that supports the learning needs and styles of all users can be a difficult task. Your learning materials need to engage, educate, evaluate, and accommodate people effectively.



Set clear course expectations

There are some design decisions you can make that will help all learners use your online course effectively:

  • Use the Content Overview page to help familiarize your learners with your course content.
  • Add your course syllabus to the Content Overview page. This helps all users clearly understand your course expectations up front. Link each syllabus item to the actual item in your course. This provides a navigation shortcut to important content and helps students with learning disabilities clearly see how course content relates to course expectations.
  • Set up enumerations in the Content tool's Settings to establish a clear hierarchy in your course content. Well-defined course structure is easier to navigate for screen reader users and learners with learning disabilities.

Make time limits and deadlines flexible

  • Provide readings well in advance of deadlines so users can work ahead and prepare. Many learners need the extra time to read through content multiple times. If you use release conditions to control when to release course content on a module by module basis, make sure you give learners plenty of time to complete each component.

Provide alternative learning materials

One of the most effective course design decisions you can make to improve engagement is to offer course materials that appeal to more than one sense. For example, the same material can have an audio, video, and text component. This type of redundancy helps engage learners with different learning types, reinforces important concepts, and helps ensure that users with physical disabilities can access content in a suitable format.

  • Use the Content tool for readings and course material. HTML code is easier for assistive technologies to interpret than application-based files such as Microsoft Word. Follow web standards when creating your content.
  • If you need to use PDF files for additional content, use optical character recognition (OCR) if you are scanning documents so the text can be read by screen readers. Also consider adding tags to your documents to enable screen reader users to navigate them more easily. For more information about PDF accessibility, go to
  • If your readings and lecture materials use many graphics, tables, videos, or audio recordings, provide a text-only alternative. Text-only material should supplement, not replace, other delivery methods. Videos, graphics, and audio files are a great way to generate interest in a topic, present material from different perspectives, and help students with learning disabilities through redundancy. Make the text-only alternatives easy to compile for print so that all learners can use them as study aids at their leisure.

Most of the following tips provided are web content standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and should be considered when creating HTML content.