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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Introduction to basic OER concepts, how to find and incorporate them into your course, creating and modifying OER, and getting UofM training on OER

Evaluating for Accessibility

The Importance of Accessibility

According to the Nation Center for Education Statistics, 19% of undergraduate students have some sort of disability. Digital resources such as OER can provide barriers to use for students with disabilities if they are not designed with accessibility in mind. For something to be accessible, it should be designed so that "people can do what they need to do in a similar amount of time and effort as someone that does not have a disability" (Accessibility in Government).

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) notes five broad categories of disabilities that can provide barriers for using digital tools: 

  • Auditory
  • Cognitive, learning, and neurological
  • Physical
  • Speech
  • Visual

The WAI provides an overview of each disability category along with examples disabilities in that category, common barriers people with those disabilities face using digital tools, and scenarios demonstrating these barriers and accessible solutions. Because of the wide variety of disabilities that exist, a given digital tool could be accessible to a person with one disability and completely inaccessible to another. 

The WAI also created the video below that covers 10 accessibility practices and how they help people with disabilities. 

How to Start Evaluating OER Accessibility

  • Look to see if the OER has an accessibility statement or voluntary product accessibility template (VPAT) describing the level of accessible access the authors set to achieve and any known accessibility issues.
  • Use an accessibility checking tool that can identify common accessibility issues. The Resources section has recommended tools for checking PDFs and web-based OER. 
  • Have a checklist of major accessibility issues to look for. The Resources section has a checklist you could use. 
  • If you find an OER that has accessibility issues but has valuable content, considering making your own more accessible version as allowed by the original's license and your available time.

Make sure to only select OER with no major accessibility issues and as few minor ones as possible. In addition, providing multiple options for learning same information, a core component of Universal Design for Learning, makes it easier to get around accessibility issues in any one resource. 

Assistance on instructional accessibility can be provided by Disability Resources for Students (DRS) and UM3D


Checklists & Checking Tools

Guides to Accessibility

This guide was created by Dr. Meredith Heath Boulden on behalf of the University of Memphis Libraries and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License    unless otherwise noted. This guide is currently maintained by Carl Hess