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Accessibility Rules: Important Guidelines

A Law that Helps Everyone

For example, see California State University's Accessible Technology Initiative: 7.84 MB PDF file

The legal requirement for accessible course materials benefits ALL students. Making your materials accessibile means the material can be perceived in many ways. Research shows that multiple modalities reinforce learning.

To make sure your open textbook is accessible, check the following features.

Basic Accessibility for Web Based Open Textbooks

  • Text is really text, rather than pictures or scans of text. If you can select lines of text with your mouse cursor in the online document you've got actual text.
  • Any images or graphics should have alternative text, or "Alt" attribute. To check, right click (PC) or hold down Cntrl and click (MAC) to see the properties option. This text should describe the image so that a blind person hearing the description gets the information in the image.
  • Tables have captions and include attributes for column and row headings. To check this, go to view in your browser and click 'source page.' Search for tags indicating column and row headers.

Accessibility for Additional Content

  • If the textbook includes any video portions, there should be either captions or a link to a text version of the audio content.
  • If the sound for a video doesn't adequately explain what's being shown, there is a link to descriptive text of the action.
  • If the open textbook includes interactive content, where the user manipulates things on screen (virtual physics labs for instance), there is text or a link to text teaching the information offered in that activity.

About Accessible PDFs

PDF files have a separate accessibility format. To check if a PDF you are considering is accessible, open it with Adobe Reader, go to the "Document" menu and run the accessibility quick check.

Check a website for accessibility

Paste your URL into the field and find out if the site is accessible. If the report shows only a few minor warnings, that doesn't mean the site is totally inaccessible, just that some users may have minor difficulties with particular areas of the page.

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