How can I make my Brightspace course more accessible?
by Stacey M. Johnson, Assistant Director
If you are interested in making your Brightspace course more accessible to your students with disabilities, we have a few resources that you might find useful.
First, read through the CFT Teaching Guide on Creating Accessible Learning Environments. This will provide great background to the issue of accessibility and help you decide which accessibility tools would be most useful for your class. This Inside Higher Ed article called 5 Tips for ADA-compliant Inclusive Design is a quick run down of the basics you should think about with any online course.
In your Brightspace course, here are a four accessibility options you may want to consider:
- Text contrast.
This article will give you detailed information about what text contrast is. In short, people with low vision or certain visual needs will require high contrast between text and background in order to read text on the screen.
Brightspace is set up to let you know when the text colors you have chosen do not provide minimum contrast. When you are typing in a text box, you have control over the text color. If the text color you choose does not provide sufficient contrast with the background, Brightspace will let you know. Here’s a screen shot of what you see if you choose a text color with poor contrast. Not only does Brightspace give you the actual contrast ratio, the red X icon tells you that the text contrast is poor. A green check mark appears there if the text contrast meets standards.
- Insert Stuff and Video Notes.
Another feature available in text boxes is the Insert Stuff button. Typing information such as instructions into a text box makes that information available to screen readers and other assistive devices. However, if you want to make the information you have typed into a text box accessible to as many students as possible, even those who do not have screen readers, you might also consider using the Video Notes feature by clicking on the Insert Stuff button. Video Notes is a built-in tool that allows instructors to create videos of up to 3 minutes in length and insert those videos right into a text box. Instructors can create as many Video Notes as needed in their courses.
The combination of a Video Note and written text in a text box can increase the likelihood that all of your students will be able to access your words.
- Insert Image and provide Alt Text.
Also inside of a text box, you have the option of adding an image to the text box by clicking on the little camera icon right next to the Insert Stuff icon on the top left of the text box tool bar. Students using screen readers to access text will not have access to the images in the text box unless the instructor also adds “Alt Text” to the images. Click on the “Add Image” icon within the text box. Then select the image to include. In one last step before posting your image, Brightspace will ask you if you would like to add “Alt Text” or if the image is decorative. Whatever you type into the “Alt Text” line will be read to students using screen reader technology.
- Account Settings options.
Finally, if you or one of your students is using a screen reader or other assistive device, make sure to check out the various options available in the Account Settings menu. You can reach the Account Settings menu by clicking on your name. You should see the options Profile, Notifications, Account Settings, and Log Out.
If you click on Account Settings, many of the settings in that screen are specifically related to visual support and assistive technology. Brightspace users can choose their own font size for readability and also choose from various settings that make Brightspace more compatible with screen readers and other technologies.
There are many opportunities within Brightspace to make your course more accessible to students. For instructors looking for steps they can take today to improve their course’s accessibility, these four items should give you a good place to start.
For more information about all the ways you can use Kaltura media on Brightspace to improve your course’s accessibility, check out our collection of guides including how to create Kaltura videos and how to add captions to them!