Embracing and Teaching Accessibility

Concurrent Session 5

Brief Abstract

Bring your device to explore and evaluate accessibility tools. Learn how course designers assist faculty in making their course materials accessible. Hear how faculty embrace accessibility tools, become more independent and make courses more accessible for students. Celebrate online learners needing to request fewer or no accommodations with accessibility minded course design.


Janene McMahan, M.Ed is an instructional designer and adjunct faculty with UAF. She is the Quality Matters Coordinator at UAF eCampus, a Google Certified Educator who loves data, gets to work with faculty on courses, and programming php. As a designer and adjunct her primary focus is the student experience with ways to create efficient course management for the faculty coming a close second.

Additional Authors

Dr. Healy developed and is the Program Head of the Special Education Master’s degree and related Certification Programs at UAF after 21 years as a special educator. She is the faculty advisor for the CEC Student Chapter), a board member for Undergraduate Research & Scholarly Activity (URSA), and on the SOE-wide CAEP committee. She teaches special education teacher preparation courses, including two classes about autism. Additionally, Dr. Healy collaborates with State, National and International autism experts to bring their expertise to many of her special education classes. Dr. Healy acquired two humanoid robots through Provost Technology in Education Grant. She is researching the changes in the behavior of children affected by autism who work with the robots. Other research includes being a Co-Investigator on a National Science Foundation Grant entitled Factors Related to Teacher Retention in Arctic Alaska. Dr. Healy worked to get the Masters in Special Education program certified Nationally for Online Program Design and Online Teacher Support by Quality Matters (QM). This is the only Special Education program in the nations to receive two QM national certifications. UAF is the only university to receive three QM national certifications.

Extended Abstract

As more learners are accessing their education online it is vital all course materials, activities and tools are accessible to the learner. Just because a course or document is presented online doesn’t mean it is accessible. This Exploration session will improve your ability to make your course materials ADA compliant as a course designer or online faculty member. Through experimenting with different accessibility tools you will experience what is and isn’t effective for you when teaching these techniques to others.

Participation: All participants have opportunities to explore with their device the Grackle Suite app for Docs, Sheets, and Slides; learn the importance of formatting a document for a screen reader while supported by the workshop leaders (Word or Google Docs). Questions will be answered in real time. Why and how to check on the accessibility of tables, texts, hyperlinks, images, and graphs will be covered and presented depending upon time and interest. Participants, by role, break into groups to share: instructional support, training professionals, and technologists--how they teach faculty to use accessibility tools; from administrators, faculty, researchers, and students how they implement the tools in their course to improve accessibility. Sharing a variety of perspectives provides participants with a range of ideas to improve accessibility. Online education is changing daily to improve the learner experience. Exploring different options spark a conversation at the conference and another when attendees return to their campus.

Session Goals: Participants evaluate through hands-on practice with the Grackle Suite for Google Sheets, Docs and Slides as well as using the Alt function in Word, Powerpoint, and Blackboard to enhance accessibility. Attendees learn strategies for teaching the use of select accessibility tools to faculty and students from presenters and via conversations with others during the session.