OSCQR – Standard #15

OSCQR – Standard #15

Any technology tools meet accessibility standards.

Review These Explanations

In the United States, two federal laws govern program and course access for all students: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In New York, we are also bound by the accessibility guidelines pertaining to technology included within Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Conforming to these standards will benefit learners with disabilities, and will help all of your learners to access and use the content of your online course.

According to Yesilada, et al., (2012) technology is considered accessible if users with disabilities can use it as well as users without. Any technology tools included in the course need to meet federal and state standards, and have the capability of delivering the same functionality to all learners.

Understand that a full learning experience requires accessibility from a physical, sensory, and cognitive perspective (Smith & Basham, 2014). LMS tools typically adhere to accessibility standards, but any technology tool or application outside of the LMS needs to be reviewed from an accessibility perspective before including it in the online course.


Smith, S. s., & Basham, J. D. (2014). Designing Online Learning Opportunities for Students with Disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 46(5), 127-137.

Yesilada, Y., Brajnik, G., Vigo, M., & Harper, S. (2012). Understanding web accessibility and its drivers (Proceedings of the International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility W4A). Aarhus, Denmark: ACM Press.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Before including any technology tool or application in your course, check for accessibility information on the product site, and check user reviews.
  • Try using the accessibility features built into any tool that you use in your courses, including the LMS. See what features are available for learners with disabilities.
  • Run the URL of web-based resources through the Wave Accessibility Tool from WebAIM, and accessibility organization. The results provide guidance on any issues that may be detected.
  • Check with your campus Disability and/or Accommodation services office for guidance on accessible technologies and specific tools and approaches to avoid.

Explore Related Resources

Accessible Online Course Design
Effective Practices from the the Online Learning Journal (OLJ) Publisher: Online Learning Consortium (OLC).
Lessons learned from campuses nationwide have informed an approach to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act during the process of online course design.
Providing multiple ways for learners to gain knowledge, demonstrate knowledge, and interact goes a long way toward making a course accessible to all learners, including those with disabilities.
WAVE is developed and made available as a free community service by WebAIM. Originally launched in 2001, WAVE has been used to evaluate the accessibility of millions of web pages.
Thurber, A., &  Bandy, J. (2018). Creating Accessible Learning Environments. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

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