Creating Accessible Online Course Content

Online courses can minimize barriers for many students, especially students with disabilities. However, this is contingent on the instructor choosing and creating accessible course content. If you develop your course with accessibility in mind, you will save yourself from having to retrofit the course for a student with a disability. Below are some common issues and tips in creating accessible content. 

Online courses need equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content. 

Auditory and Visual Content 

For any audio you use, either in mp3 or video format, there must be a visual equivalent. This means any videos or audio recordings need to have closed captioning or a transcript available. 

 Arcadia-created Audio/Video

  • We recommend reading from a transcript when creating any file that would include audio.
  • If you create your own videos or audio, consult with Academic Technology Services on ways to create closed captioning while creating videos.
  • Caution! If you use YouTube’s automated closed captioning generator, it often contains many errors with potentially embarrassing results. These captions need to be edited manually. 

 External Sources of Audio/Video 

  • For materials that are not created by Arcadia community members, make sure you purchase versions with closed captioning. If you are using an older film and closed captioning is not available, contact DSS before the course begins. 
  • If you use other YouTube videos, ensure you choose captioned videos by using the advanced search in Google. Under “subtitles” select “only search for videos with closed captioning.”

Visual representations of information need to be created in a way assistive technology (i.e. screen readers) can be used. This means you need to ensure that you post accessible documents (PDFs, Word, etc). 

  • If you created a PDF from a hardcopy, it is generally saved as an image and not real text. This makes the document inaccessible. Can you select text and copy it? If not, you need optical character recognition (OCR) to make it accessible. You can do this by using Adobe Acrobat Pro. 
  • Microsoft Word and PowerPoint 2010 and above as well as Adobe Pro and Reader have accessibility checkers. Though they don’t catch everything, it provides a good starting point. 
  • Use headers and style formatting appropriately. Use the Navigation Pane in Word and Outline View in Power Point to check that text is formatted and labeled correctly. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Disability Support Services (DSS) or Academic Technology Services ( ) for assistance and more resources!