Use of open educational resources can make content more accessible and more universally usable for students. Accessible content meets the requirements of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and also removes barriers for everyone, not just those with documented disabilities.

In fact, when resources are not accessible, they are not "open" to all because some students may not be able to use them. The same goals that people have in mind when they switch to open educational resources can apply to making content more accessible.

If you find open educational resources that have accessibility issues, the open license gives you permission to revise that content to make it more accessible, and then share your accessible version back out to the commons. 

If you are developing your own open educational resources, create them with a logical structure in mind and share them in ways that allow that structure to benefit end users, including those who use assistive technologies. When your electronic versions align with known web content accessibility guidelines, we can ensure that most of the time, for most people, there will be enough flexibility in how to access the files so that needs can be met. You can use an accessibility checker (example: https://wave.webaim.org/) to get started. 

Additionally, as you create open educational resources, make sure the tools you are using to create them allow you to make them accessible.

A few very basic practices that should become habits:

  • Images have alt tags
  • Video is captioned
  • PDF's are machine readable
  • Document structures use headings to support navigation by screen readers
  • Links are anchored to descriptive text rather than the word "here"

Further reading

Content on this page adapted from "Open Education: Increasing access and engagement while decreasing costs" by Kaela Parks, Ralf Youtz, and Amy Hofer, licensed under CC BY 4.0