Be sure to check third-party software for accessibility

As you finalize your summer semester materials and get ready for fall, please take a moment to review your third-party software for accessibility.

Keep in mind that accessibility means content and instruction available electronically should also be available and useable by someone with a disability you can easily anticipate – mostly visual, hearing and movement impairments. Therefore, you should examine your third-party software for the following important accessibility factors:

  • Any information presented via audio must also be available via captions.
  • Any information presented via images must also be available via descriptive audio.
  • Keyboard controls – and not just mouse control – are available to use.

Please note: Anything using Flash is not accessible.

Does this mean that faculty must give up all such tools if they don’t meet these guidelines? Not necessarily. If you are faced with abandoning a tool students find helpful, the Center for Student Access and the Center for Teaching Excellence can help you develop choices (a principle of Universal Design for Learning) to ensure all students can participate fully in your course.

If you’re not sure if the third-party application you use in class is accessible, have a conversation with the vendor or developer.  Many application developers will have detailed accessibility summaries called Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (or VPATs) available either directly on their website or upon request. This can be a time-saving alternative to manually testing accessibility.