Much of the debate about accessibility issues in higher education in recent years has focused on audio and video -- take, for example, the high-profile lawsuits against prestigious institutions such as Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.
But new data from Blackboard show that the most common types of course content that students use on a daily basis -- images, PDFs, presentations and other documents -- continue to be riddled with accessibility issues. And while colleges have made some slight improvements over the last five years, the issues are widespread.
The findings come from Ally, an accessibility tool that Blackboard launched today (the company in October acquired Fronteer, the ed-tech company behind the tool). Ally scans the course materials in a college’s learning management system, comparing the materials to a checklist based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative. If any issues arise, the tool flags them and suggests accessible alternatives.