ADA Compliance Best Practices and Questions for your Publishers

Based on best practices, these are questions that faculty should be asking publishers:

  • Are the videos captioned and audio recordings transcribed?  There should be transcripts for audio recordings and captions or subtitles for video. If there are not, ask the publishing representative if they would provide a captioned version in a timely manner if a student who needed them registered for your class.

  • Can all of the text that is displayed on the screen be read aloud by text-to-speech software?  Screen readers (assistive technology used by people who are blind) read real text.  They cannot read images of text or text embedded in Flash animations/movies/simulations.
  • How accessible are the E-books?  Digital books should conform to the EPUB standard (currently version 3.1).
  • Can all interactivity (media players, quizzes, flashcards, etc.) be completed by keyboard alone (no mouse required)?  People who are blind or people who have upper mobility disabilities cannot use a mouse. They use the keyboard to navigate and interact with the Web. It is required that any interactive elements on the publisher's website (or on a DVD included with the book) be operable by a keyboard alone if they are used in your course. For example: An interactive exercise that requires dragging and dropping is not keyboard accessible, so unless there is a keyboard option to dragging and dropping, that sort of exercise should not be used in your course.
  • Is there any documentation available (VPAT or White Paper for example) that confirms accessibility or usability testing results?  A VPAT is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. It is used by many organizations to report the level of accessibility of their software products. If the publisher doesn't have a VPAT or any research that confirms the accessibility of their product(s), don't just take their word for how accessible they are. 
  • What type of accessibility support is available to students?
  • Does your tool work on mobile devices? Is it optimized for mobile devices?
    Your students use mobile devices all the time, so it’s important that they can access your course content from their phones and tablets as well. But it’s also important to ask if the tool has been optimized for mobile devices — this ensures that content displays correctly and is functional on smaller screens.
  • Does your tool require a plugin(Ex: Flash, Java, etc.)?
    Plugins are likely to cause problems for students. Desktop browsers are dropping support for plugins and most mobile devices don’t support them either.
  • Will students need to install any software?
    If so, students may not be able to use the tool on campus, especially if they are logging in from a computer lab.