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Creating an Accessible Online Course


Create accessible lectures

If you are posting a lecture with video, make sure you also provide captions. An alternative format to the video content will be beneficial not only for students with a hearing disability, but also for those who may be watching the video in a noisy environment or may just want the text reinforcement of the captions.

Example of an Accessible Lecture Using Camtasia Relay

This lecture uses captions which can be turned on or off by clicking the “CC” button.
Accessible Lecture



How-to document: Record a Camtasia Relay Presentation with Captions Link

Watch a quick video on editing captions with Camtasia Relay

Provide the text equivalent of your video lecture. If you have created your lecture in PowerPoint, include a copy of your slides with the notes sections included as a text alternative. Create a PDF with notes from a PowerPoint file

Find captioned videos to show in my course

YouTube videos with captioning:

Note: Most YouTube videos include a closed captioning (CC) button, but be sure to test these. YouTube videos may often be captioned using speech recognition technology and the quality of the captions can vary greatly.


How to search for closed captioned YouTube videos:

  1. Enter your search term in YouTube search field.
  2. Add , CC  (comma, then CC)
  3. Click the magnifying glass icon to search.
  4. Only videos with closed captioning will appear in your search.

YouTube CC search



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TED.com Videos

TED Talk videos also often provide captions. Click on the language dropdown menu (next to the fullscreen video option) and choose English subtitles.

You can also choose to view a print transcript of the talk.  The transcript will display directly below the video, as shown here:

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What if I can’t find a captioned video?

If you can’t find a captioned version of the video you want to use, check to see if you can find a transcript copy of the video, such as this ABC News “This Week” episode.


Create an accessible podcast
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. In the example shown, the Welcome Announcement is presented to students not only as a podcast, but also in a print transcript PDF format.


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Tips for making Blackboard more accessible
  • Use descriptive text when using hyperlinks. Students using assistive technology such as screen reading software will read links on a page and may be reading this out of order.  Include a description of what students will find when they click on the link.

For example, which one of the following provides more information about where students will be directed?

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  • Eliminate unused menu items/folders. Avoid “layering” items, such as placing a folder within a folder, so that students need to keep clicking on items to search for materials.
  • Use sans serif fonts (e.g., Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana) throughout your Blackboard site. Use a dark color font that is easy to read on a white background.
  • Don’t rely on color alone to express or emphasize information.

Blackboard How-To Guide: Getting Started With Creating Accessible Course Content  


Video: 5 Best Practices for Creating an Accessible Online Course

So how do you, as an online instructor, know where to begin?  Take a look at this video to introduce you to some accessible best practices for online learning you can use in your own course.|5-Best-Practices-Accessibility.pdf




NU Online Recommended Tools for Accessibility


Camtasia Relay. Adding captioning to your video lectures not only helps students with hearing difficulties, but it can also be beneficial for ESL students or students watching the video in a noisy environment. (See more information on captioning in the Camtasia Relay how-to section).

Blackboard Collaborate Voice Board: Students who may struggle with keeping up with a traditional text discussion board might find it beneficial to be able to post and respond in an audio-based discussion thread. (For more information on Voice Board, visit the Blackboard Collaborate Voice Tools How-to section.)

Blackboard Collaborate Voice Podcaster:  Create an audio-based lecture along with a print transcript to give students the option of choosing which format works best for them. For a tutorial on how to add this into your course, visit the Blackboard Collaborate Voice Tools How-to section.

Additional Resources:

Disability Resource Center (www.northeastern.edu/drc)

Webaim.org:  Web Accessibility in Mind

Cast.org: Center for Applied Special Technology

Blackboard: Accessibility Resources page

AccessAbility@PennState: http://accessibility.psu.edu/