Best Practices for Online Course Accessibility

This page will introduce you to some best practices for accessible online courses and demonstrate why being proactive in thinking about accessible materials is beneficial for both the instructor and the student. Being proactive means you avoid delays in getting materials to students and decrease the need for retrofitting alternative formats of course materials at the last minute (like adding captions to prerecorded videos) once the course begins.


This video will introduce you to best practices for creating a universally accessible online course.

Video: Making Your Course Accessible for All Learners

Accessibility Quick Check

Does your course meet accessibility best practices?

  • Did you provide captions with any videos (Kaltura, YouTube, etc)?
  • If using audio files (podcasts, MP3, etc), did you also provide a print transcript version?
  • If you created your lecture in PowerPoint, did you use the built-in accessibility checker to check/fix issues?
  • Did you include descriptive text when linking to other websites? (i.e, no “Click here”)
  • Are your weekly course materials easy for students to find in folders and easy to navigate?

 Download the Quick Check checklist: AccessibilityQuickCheck 2016.

Not sure where to start? Run the built-in Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker to help identify and fix any potential accessibility issues in your Word, PowerPoint, or Excel documents:

Accessibility Checker for Mac

Accessibility Checker for Windows

Closed Captioning Logo

Learn more in this section about how to create and find accessible videos for your course.

To make an audio file such as a podcast accessible to all users, include a print transcript along with the audio. Students can choose which format works best for them and not miss out if they are unable to listen to the podcast. To learn more, visit this page.

How can I make my Blackboard course more accessible?
In creating your course, it’s important to think not only of the format of your materials, but also of the layout and course design. Here are some tips on making your Blackboard course more accessible for students.

Making documents accessible
The NCDAE (National Center on Disability and Access to Education) provides these handy one-page cheatsheets that give you tips on improving accessibility in documents using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat, creating PDFs, etc.


Additional Resources

Blackboard: Accessibility Resources page

VoiceThread: Captioning your VoiceThread presentations

VoiceThread Universal: Accessing VoiceThread with a screen reader

Disability Resource Center ( Home page for the Northeastern University Disability Resource Center.

Web Accessibility in Mind ( One of the leading sites on web accessibility

Center for Applied Special Technology: