Over the last several years, there’s been a steady increase in legal advocacy geared toward making web content accessible. In higher ed., that includes college and departmental websites as well as online course content. There’s no indication that this trend will change, so I expect web accessibility to continue to be an important consideration for colleges and universities. In the short term, I think we’ll actually see an increase in demand for accessibility specialists. In the long term, I think we’ll see that strategy shift to training and hiring more people that understand accessibility within the context of a broader expertise. For example, instructional designers that understand universal design and web professionals that understand general web accessibility issues.
Video and Captioning
A particular focus for higher education will be online video. The propagation of flipped courses and other video-heavy instruction methods has brought a great deal of attention to the accessibility of these formats for students with disabilities. The National Association of the Deaf’s (NAD) recent lawsuit against Harvard and MIT is the first of what I expect to be many such cases.
If you’re not already captioning your videos, start. Incorporate captioning into your production process. Captioning provides a number of benefits for your visitors, and like most things, it’s much easier to do on the front-end than to go back and add later.
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