13 Accessibility of Digital Courseware

are highly utilized products for different reasons. Sometimes, this is directly due to the affordability of the product, while other times it is about the educational benefit. However, when thinking about the materials we use in our classrooms, we also need to think, “is this item accessible?” There are misconceptions that digital courseware and/or are accessible to all users, but this is not always the case. Unless the platform that houses the item or the item itself was created with accessibility in mind, the items you choose may not be available to all students within your class. If you are thinking of utilizing digital courseware, it would be helpful to be aware of the accessibility of the platform and the items chosen. Please be mindful that just because a publisher maintains its commitment to accessibility, that does not guarantee that all their products will be accessible. We encourage all that plan to utilize digital courseware, to engage the platform/publisher in a conversation about the accessibility of your chosen product. The list below is not an all-encompassing list of digital courseware, but it has been used across campus by faculty. We share information about the accessibility of a product along with the if available

OpenStax

LoudCloud Platform

Lumen Learning

BCcampus – Canada

Open Textbook Network

Pressbooks

McGraw-Hill Platform

Pearson Platform

Redshelf Platform

VitalSource Bookshelf Online

Yuzu Barnes & Noble Application

OpenStax

OpenStax promotes Accessibility. OpenStax website and WebView versions of their learning materials follow accessible web design best practices and therefore meet W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 at Level AA and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

      • OpenStax produced texts are regularly checked for accessibility.
      • Students who utilize screen reading software should utilize the “View Online” link for accessibility.
      • User-contributed content is not guaranteed for accessibility. Faculty can derive a copy of one of their titles and modify the content to make their course. The faculty member would be responsible for the accessibility of the new modified text.
      • If there is a problem around the accessibility of OpenStax materials, they ask that you reach out via accessibility@openstax.org so that the issue can be addressed.[1]

LoudCloud

LoudCloud by Barnes and Noble – OER Courseware platform from Barnes & Noble

  • Product Created with accessibility in mind.
    • Compatible with – we recommend use with NVDA (Firefox), Talkback (Android phone/tabet) and Voiceover (Mac, IPhone, IPad).
    • Provides alternative text to all images and illustrations where possible.
    • Content team makes every effort to find videos with closed-captions; however, instructors can easily replace videos that are not captioned to fit their students needs.
    • Allows for keyboard navigation.
    • Works with accessibility features on Android and iOS devices.[2]

Lumen Learning

Lumen Learning is recommended as a great accessible option for course content.

  • Accessibility Statement for Lumen Learning
  • Utilizes Waymaker and Ohm (STEM) platforms which are both accessible to students and faculty.
  • Platforms can be embedded in Canvas for ease of navigation.
  • Allows for keyboard navigation, descriptive and usable alt text on all visual content, accessible quizzes, good color contrast, and enlargement of product.
  • Captioned videos are provided; if there are no captions, a text transcript is available.
  • Most interactive segments are accessible; those that are not accessible to non-sighted users are recommended to be used only as supplemental course content.
    • Currently, there is no information to show faculty which interactive segments are accessible. ODR has requested this be added, and Lumen Learning will look into this. In the meantime, ODR recommends Faculty engage with Lumen Learning to inquire about the accessibility of an interactive segment before it is utilized in a course.[3]

BCcampus – Canada

Open Textbook Network

  • Does not guarantee the accessibility of their text: Accessibility of Content.
  • Prior to using, this requires faculty to check the accessibility of the PDF copy of the text. Convert to an accessible copy prior to use in a course.[5]

Pressbooks

McGraw-Hill Platforms

McGraw-Hill states they are committed to making their content accessible to all learners.

Pearson Platforms

Pearson has a lot of information posted about the accessibility of their products, and even has helpful guides to work through an issue. This information includes using products with a screen-reader and videos with closed captions. They have for all of their products but you must open a case and ask for a specific VPAT as they don’t have them readily available on their website.

RedShelf Platform

Redshelf has been tested and shown to be accessible for those with Mobility/Dexterity Impairments, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, and Blind/Visually Impaired. The Item was tested with a multitude of assistive and adaptive technology devices by both sighted and non-sighted users.

VitalSource Bookshelf Online

This source is working towards accessibility and considered and at times compliant. Vital Source is a browser-based platform, which requires individuals to read within their browser. While VitalSource supports Accessibility, they rely on the publishers to create accessible text, which is not guaranteed.

Yuzu Barnes & Noble Platform

The UMW bookstore utilizes the Barnes and Noble electronic book platform, Yuzu. This platform is a VitalSource platform which has many accessibility features, but it has some areas of concern. Some concerns are listed below:

  • Books read within this platform require the use of the read aloud feature built within Yuzu.
  • Users cannot directly access the text utilizing their personal screen readers and adaptive devices.
  • Incorporates features which cannot be used by non-sighted users and through keyboard navigation, such as the highlight feature.

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  1. “Accessibility.” OpenStax, Rice University, 2019, openstax.org/accessibility-statement.
  2. “Accessibility.” Smarter Affordable OER Courseware, 2020, www.bncoerplus.com/accessibility/.
  3. “Accessibility Statement.” Accessibility Statement, Lumen Learning, 2019, lumenlearning.com/policies/accessibility/.
  4. Coolidge, Amanda, et al. “Accessibility Toolkit - 2nd Edition.” Accessibility Toolkit 2nd Edition, BCcampus, 31 Aug. 2018, opentextbc.ca/accessibilitytoolkit/.
  5. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Open Textbook Library, Center for Open Education, open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/faq.
  6. “McGraw-Hill Accessibility Policy.” McGraw-Hill, MGraw-Hill, 2020, www.mheducation.com/about/accessibility.html.
  7. Pearson. “Accessibility Information.” Accessibility Information, Pearson Education, 2019, www.pearsonmylabandmastering.com/northamerica/mymathlab/accessibility/.
  8. “Ensuring Equivalent Experiences.” Accessibility, RedShelf, 2020, www.about.redshelf.com/accessibility.
  9. “VitalSource Accessibility - 508 Compliance - Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates™ VPATs.” VitalSource Support, VitalSource, 2020, support.vitalsource.com/hc/en-us/sections/200544797-VitalSource-Accessibility-508-Compliance-Voluntary-Product-Accessibility-Template-VPAT-for-Bookshelf.

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Access for All Copyright © 2020 by Alison Grimes and Danielle Smith. All Rights Reserved.

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