Creating Accessible Online Content for All Learners

Pre-conference Workshop Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This workshop will provide practical, hands-on activities to help everyone (faculty, adjuncts, management, instructional designers, etc.) become more familiar with the issues of web accessibility in online education. Accessibility is not something you achieve and are done with. It’s ongoing and never done and it helps to assure equal access to all.

The fee for this Pre-Conference Workshop is: $205 Early Bird / $235 Full Price

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Presently, I work for Empire State College as the Director of Instructional Design. I strategically direct College wide instructional design policy and procedures to ensure courses are current and in-line with current research on best practices for online learning. I also coordinate and promote collaboration and fact finding of existing resources with other members of the College to identify gaps and opportunities and determine boundaries to increase efficiency and effectiveness. I am also an adjunct faculty member with the College, instructing a graduate course on Assistive Technology and Digital Tools. I also teach for The College of Saint Rose, a graduate course on Assistive Technology and Interactive Whiteboards and two undergraduate courses, Introduction to Computer Science and Educational Computing for the Computer Information Science program.
Mark Lewis is an Instructional Designer for SUNY Empire State College. He is also a Core Faculty Member in the Master In Learning and Emerging Technologies (MALET) program. He has designed and taught graduate studies in Instructional Design for Online Learning Environments; and Games, Simulations and Learning. He has also designed and taught undergraduate courses in Game Design and Development, Digital Photography, Interactive Multimedia Design, Web Site Design, Adobe Flash Animation, Graphic Design & Desktop Publishing, and Technical Theatre Production. Recent instructional design work has included the incorporation of UX design practices within the creation of collaborative next generation online learning environments and the creation of a faculty oriented instructional design portal. His prior technology and design related work experience includes graphic design, website design and development, technology training, and management of enterprise help desk support. He also worked for many years in technical theatre lighting and set design in the New York metropolitan area and frequently incorporated photographs and digital images in his designs. He was a technical editor for four editions (CS3 to CS6) of Photoshop CS6: Essential Skills published by Focal Press. He is interested in the application of UX design processes for developing learning environments and for game design, games and meaningful play in education, game culture, and games for social change. He has presented at many regional and national conferences on instructional technology, game design for education, game culture and gender issues, and accessibility issues for game design. He is a member of the International Game Developers Association. He holds an M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology from Walden University, an M.A. in Media Studies from the New School, and a B.S. in Visual Arts from SUNY New Paltz where he worked in both painting and photography.
Alena Rodick is an Interim Assistant Director of Instructional Design at SUNY Empire State College. She has been a Co-Pi and/or project member on four SUNY Innovative Instructional Technology Grants, including Career Brand Management for Everyone: Expanding Access to Career Development Learning by Launching an On-Demand, Competency-Based OPEN SUNY Specialization on Coursera; Increasing Access to Online, On-Demand, Competency-Based Nonprofit Management and Leadership Education; Metaliteracy Learning Pathways: Fostering Innovative Teaching Across SUNY; Increasing Access to Nonprofit Management and Leadership Education. While working on these projects, she has designed courses in various platforms, utilized different project management processes, and built learning artifacts with a wide range of tools. She has facilitated workshops and presented at the regional and national conferences and has a special interest in application of design thinking process and learning analytics in instructional design. She is also an adjunct faculty teaching an undergraduate course for The College of Saint Rose and Senior Networked Instructional Designer at Southern New Hampshire University. She holds BS degree in Business Administration from SUNY Albany and MS degree in Information Design and Technology from SUNYIT, and currently pursuing another MS degree in Data Analytics.

Extended Abstract

This workshop will provide practical, hands-on activities to help everyone (faculty, adjuncts, management, instructional designers, etc.) become more familiar with the issues of web accessibility in online education. Accessibility is not something you achieve and are done with. It’s ongoing and never done and it helps to assure equal access to all.

The following goals are to be accomplished by workshop participants:
1. Build a personal knowledge base in web accessibility for online education.

  • Resources
  • Toolbox
  • Workshop itself

2. Produce accessible photo images, diagrams, and charts for online courses.
3. Generate accessible audio and video components for online courses.
4. Create accessible HTML content pages for online courses.
5. Build and develop accessible course content in other formats, including PDF, Word, PPT, as well as others.
6. Create an accessible syllabus and online course statements.

The workshop presenters will be inviting a visually impaired individual to either attend in person or virtually to share the technologies, challenges, and ideas from their personal experience. Audience will see technologies that this individual uses daily and how to better work with students with disabilities. They will address struggles that this individual has with the current technologies and ideas on increasing accessibility. We hope to bring the actual technology tools and demonstrate them for the audience.

As a group, we will explore the meanings of accessible design versus universal design and inclusive design. Understanding the differences between these concepts should broaden an individual’s understanding of how people, with or without disabilities, use online content. By examining the variety of ways we access online content, we will get closer to understanding the perspectives and struggles of others bound to using unaccessible online content. 

After learning about the components, concepts, and guidelines for web accessibility, participants will engage in hands-on experiential exercise where they will work in groups to review assigned websites and documents to address accessibility issues. With our help and use of  variety of free tools and handouts, participants will create accessible documents and evaluate websites for accessibility errors. Participants will discuss and share their findings and solutions with the rest of the participants.

We will also review the topic of the web and “cognitive disabilities are the least understood and least discussed type of disability among web developers” (WebAIM, 2013., para. 1).  We will share the list of considerations that present problems for individuals with cognitive disabilities and possible solutions. 

We will close the workshop with the discussion of three concrete items participants can do to start addressing accessibility at their institution. 


WebAIM. (2013). Cognitive disabilities part 1: We still know too little, and we do even less. Retrieved April 15, 2015 from