Standard 8: Accessibility and Usability

General Standard 8 -­ Accessibility and Usability

The course design reflects a commitment to accessibility and usability for all learners.


The five substandards in this section discuss the importance of navigation and multimedia ease of use, accessibility policies, alternative means of access to course materials, and readability in an online course. Is the course easy to navigate, especially for students who are new to online learning? Are your accessibility policies–and those of the tools you use in the class–clear to students who may need to request additional accommodations?

Have you taken steps to make sure that your course is accessible to all students, including those with disabilities? Some of those considerations include:

  • Providing captions or transcripts for audiovisual content.
  • Using alt-text to describe images.
  • Formatting tables with clear headers and content cells.
  • Ensuring color combinations are high contrast and can be perceived by students who are colorblind.
  • Creating descriptive and unique links.
  • Writing descriptive page titles and headings.
  • Sharing information for students who need accommodations.
  • Using high-quality digital texts.


8.1 Course navigation facilitates ease of use.

Course components are organized chronologically so that students can see the week’s tasks at a glance. Likewise, navigation bars are customized so that any unused course components are hidden and the critical portions of the course are shortlisted. Can important course features–like the syllabus, assignments, and Course Reserves–be found quickly and easily from every page?

8.3 The course provides alternative means of access to course materials in formats that meet the needs of diverse learners.

For example, all videos have closed captions, all images that convey academically necessary information should have text descriptions, and all links should be descriptive and unique.

8.4 The course design facilitates readability.

Students with a variety of disabilities, including visual or learning impairments, benefit from the use of heading tags, white space, and high contrast. Choose colors carefully to ensure that students who are colorblind are able to perceive a distinction between them.

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