Digital Accessibility in Canvas

Accessibility is a general term used to describe the degree to which a product (device, service, or environment) is accessible by as many people as possible. It is the ability to access the functionality, and benefit of a system or entity.

The major categories of disability types are:

  • Visual (Blindness, low vision, color-blindness)
  • Auditory (Deafness and hard-of-hearing)
  • Motor (Inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control)
  • Cognitive (Learning disabilities, distractibility, and/or inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information)

Providing accessible content to students in a timely manner is important because:

  • It's required by law
  • It benefits diverse learners
  • It provides equitable education to all students

Course content that is accessible is often easier for all students to use (Universal Design)

  • Accessible PDF files are searchable.
  • Accessible videos allow ESL students access to the printed word while they are still working on verbal skills.
  • Accessible Word documents are easier for you to change in the future thanks to style sheets.

Add Accessibility from the Start! It is far easier to build accessible content during the creation phase rather than add in accessibility as a retrofit once a student needs accommodations. All students deserve content in a timely manner; don’t let students fall behind while you are making files accessible.

Institutions of higher education are under the obligation to meet the requirements of the following laws and regulations.

Rehabilitation Act, Sections 504 and 508

  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - First legislative effort to provide access rights to people with physical and cognitive disabilities
  • Section 504 prohibits discrimination by employers and organizations that receive federal funding
  • Section 508 was added in 1998 barring any federal government from creating any electronic and information technology that is inaccessible
  • As Kansas State University is a federally funded institution, we are obligated not to discriminate and to create and use accessible technology

Americans with Disabilities Act, as Amended (ADAAA)

  • People with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in programs, services, and activities
  • Title II – communications must be as “effective as communication with others” [28 C.F.R. ss 35.160 (a)]
  • Title III – addresses accommodating people with disabilities in all public facilities

Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act

  • FCC Information on the Act
  • has a brief overview
  • Telecommunication devices must be designed and fabricated to be accessible
  • Telecommunications technology that is purchased for student use, especially that which is required for student programs, must be accessible
  • There are no provisions for damages, although complaints are filed with the FCC

Kansas Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

  • Information Technology Policy 1210
  • The purpose of the policy is to define accessibility requirements for all State of Kansas internet, intranet, and extranet websites, web services, and web applications including those developed internally, by contract, or purchased products
  • “6.1 All Entity websites, web services, and web applications shall be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities in accordance with federal and state law”

Many of the courses offered at Kansas State University use technology to enhance course delivery, both on-campus and through distance learning (referred to as eLearning). The United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has stated that eLearning must be designed and delivered in such a way that all students, including students with disabilities, have equal access to course content.” (PPM 3025.020)

Ideally, all physical and digital environments would be universally accessible

  • Universal design of content is ideal; universal design is the creation of documents and media in such a way that it is malleable for any circumstance and adapts to many situations and adaptive technology
  • Accommodations are made for students to avoid any barriers to course content
  • Accommodations are set so that all stakeholders (faculty and students) are aware of changes that may need to be made to the existing environment

Accommodation Process

Students with disabilities can register with the Student Access Center . Students from all campuses can register with the office, and staff will work with them to discuss accommodation needs.

Faculty members who need assistance with accommodating a student with a documented disability should contact the Student Access Center (SAC) office on the appropriate campus. Assistance may include administration of course exams with extended time and/or distraction reduced environment or providing an alternate format of text materials. SAC is happy to help you make your course more accessible to students and understand the technological barriers which may impact students with disabilities. The materials provided here were developed with SAC staff support.

K-State Policy (PPM3025) states: Federal law requires that Universities provide equal educational opportunities for all students, including students with disabilities. This Course Accessibility Standards Policy provides guidance for ensuring that all course delivery methods utilizing technology (eLearning) are accessible to students with disabilities.