Improving Course Quality through Accessibility-Focused Course Reviews

Concurrent Session 5

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

In the spring of 2018, Alfred University piloted an Accessibility Course Review procedure for its online courses.  This project was created in response to accessibility concerns, and the absence of a formal course review procedure.  This presentation will discuss the review process, timeline, goals, and outcomes.


Meghanne Freivald is the Online Learning Coordinator and Instructional Technology Team Leader at Alfred University. Her duties at Alfred include training and support for online courses, LMS administration, instructional support, and general technology training for faculty, staff, and students. She has Bachelor's degrees in Education and Theatre Arts from The State University of New York at Fredonia, and a Master's degree from the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University. She is a 2017 graduate of the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL).

Extended Abstract

Accessibility is a major concern in the field of online higher education.  As more students gain access to online courses, the need to accommodate disabilities increases.  It is important for institutions to ensure that course materials are appropriate for all students, regardless of disability status. This is not a small task, and a framework is needed to guide the way.  The OSCQR Rubric, developed by Open SUNY, contains many standards which address accessibility.  Information Technology Services and The Center for Academic Success collaborated to customize the OSCQR rubric for accessibility, educate faculty, and lead the review process.

Prior to this project, there was no formal course review process for online courses at Alfred University.  In the fall of 2017, AU received a notice from the Office of Civil Rights regarding the accessibility of some of the content on its website.  This presented a unique opportunity to educate faculty on accessibility, and to create a course review procedure.  By customizing the OSCQR Rubric, we were able to review courses for accessibility and make recommendations for adjustments.  As faculty make the recommended adjustments, their courses comply with accessibility guidelines (WCAG 2.0 AA), and the overall quality improves.

This session will illustrate the review process, timeline, goals, and outcomes.  Participants will be asked to share experiences from their home institutions related to accessibility, and/or course reviews.  They will be encouraged to identify a challenge at their home institutions which has initiated a positive change. Participants will be given access to the customized version of the OSCQR rubric which was used during the review process.

Following this presentation, the participants will be able to:

  • Adapt the Accessibility Course Review procedure for their home institutions
  • Identify key stakeholders in a course review process
  • Recognize the relationship between accessibility and quality
  • Leverage compliance challenges to create opportunities for improvement