Monday, June 27, 2011

Accessibility Basics (Part Two)

In the first article in our Accessibility Basics series, we defined four essential steps in planning for online course accessibility:
  1. Choosing file formats
  2. Chunking content
  3. Providing options
  4. Having backup plans

Commonly Used Formats

In this article, the focus is on step one, choosing file formats.  The file formats that faculty include in an online class vary widely based on a number of factors:
  1. Faculty technical skills – only a minority of faculty create html pages.
  2. Faculty field of expertise/subject area – some fields need special file types for special purposes.
  3. Faculty workload – a busy person will do what they are most familiar with

File Format Pros and Cons

Html pages are the most flexible, and can be made the most accessible.  This is the format the ITRC uses when building a course, because it can include other media and provide for accessibility. However, if you are a faculty member working on your own, this may be intimidating. The HTML Creator tool inside WVU eCampus, however, can allow easy, simple creation. While some subject areas use or require files in a specialized format, these are generally best used as specific demonstration pieces or elements of a homework assignment.