Recent Updates

  • Updated on: May 10, 2019

    What is the Announcements tool?

    The Announcements tool allows for the delivery of messages to the entire class, to groups, or to specific sections within the class.  Participants will see the Announcement message displayed in the Announcements area of their Home area, as well as within the course itself.  These messages can be set to show immediately, or to show during specific dates.  Email notifications can be sent to alert participants of the Announcement message.

  • You can use the Accessibility Checker to inspect the accessibility level of content created in the Rich-Text Editor and immediately solve any issues that are found.

    The Accessibility Checker presents issues with each item in the text box one at a time.  For many issues, the Accessibility Checker gives you a Quick fix option.  If a Quick fix is not available, the checker will describe what needs to be done to fix the issue.

  • A paragraph break (hit Enter or Return on the keyboard) is always more meaningful than a line break (hit Shift + Enter or Return on the keyboard).  A paragraph break inserts what looks like a double-space in between one line of text and another, and allows screen reader users to parse the information on the page more readily.

    Although programs like Microsoft Word have options to create single-spaced documents with paragraph breaks, web pages do not.  You may find using a line break more esthetically pleasing than a paragraph break, but line breaks can create problems for screen reader users.

    While a screen reader can interpret a paragraph break as "blank," a line break may not be indicated to the user.  The text on the new line may sound like a new sentence, instead of the start of a new paragraph.

  • Organizing your page with helpful titles and headings creates an outline that helps your audience access the most important information more quickly and easily.

    Assistive technology users rely heavily on page titles and headings to navigate complex content. Structuring complex content will help all users parse it as well.  Headings allow users to jump from one part of a document to another, without using a mouse.  Screen readers will interpret headings for those who use them.

    Note that for this reason, you should not use headings for typographical effects.  If you need to increase or decrease the font size of large blocks of text, please use the Normal Paragraph Format and select a new Font size from the Size menu, or use Styles.

  • If you think of a vertical series of items as a list, you should include it in your page as a numbered or bulleted list.  Screen readers can identify lists; for example, a bulleted list containing two items may begin: "List of  two items. Bullet 1."

  • Many users will have visual impediments that will require good contrast in the documents you are producing. The best way to help these users is to make sure that the contrast between background and foreground has a ratio of 4.5:1 or higher. Leaving the defaults of the editor intact is best - black text on white, with a ratio of 21:1.

  • Updated on: May 10, 2019

    How can I make links accessible?

    Assistive technology users use link lists to navigate content. This means they cannot rely on context to tell what a link does. Each link needs to be uniquely descriptive of what it does. The best place to uniquely identify a link is in the link text. Good examples are: "View Assignment 34," "Visit Entomological Society of America," etc.

  • Updated on: May 10, 2019

    How can I make tables more accessible?

    Users of screen readers cannot read tables the same way sighted users do. Sighted users can tell at a glance what column and row a given cell is associated with, but a screen reader user needs a properly coded table. To make tables usable, additional steps will need to be taken to make them accessible.

  • Updated on: May 10, 2019

    How can I make images more accessible?

    Users with some disabilities will be unable to see images and/or comprehend what they are meant to convey.  Alternative Text can help give context and meaning to an image.

  • Everybody experiences the world, including content they access on the internet, in their own way.  How someone experiences content on the internet can be vastly different depending on the computer or device and size of the screen on which they view it, and how they interact with it.

    For example, while some people read text and interpret images they view, others use assistive technology to listen to content using a screen reader.  Meanwhile, some people click on links using a mouse or similar device, while others navigate using a keyboard or by tapping on touch screens.

    Improving the accessibility of content is about reducing basic barriers to comprehension, such as providing alternative text for images, so that those who cannot see the images can grasp their meaning.  Similarly, making captions or transcript text available for a video file can make it accessible to someone who cannot hear audio.

    For more technical information about making content accessible, see What are some guidelines for making content accessible?