Federal and State Laws
Both state and federal law require community colleges to operate all programs and activities in a manner which is accessible to students with disabilities. Access to persons with disabilities is guaranteed by the following laws that cover digital accessibility:
- Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - provides the actual standards to follow in creating digital technology
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), read how ADA Title II and III applies to Web Accessibility at Higher Education Institutions
- California Government Code 11135 - sets out the non-discrimination obligation for state entities
- California Government Code 7405 - applies the accessibility requirements of Section 508 to state entities, including the CCCs
- Dear Colleague Letter [PDF] issued by the Department of Justice and Department of Education affirming the rights of individuals with disabilities as it pertains to the use of technology in higher education
Accessibility vs Accommodation
The guideline for online courses is not "reasonable accommodation" but rather "accessibility." That means to meet federal and state laws, all online materials need to be accessibility compliant.
Board Policy 2.17P outlines an exemption process. If making an online course accessible would alter the fundamental nature of the course, an exemption may be possible for certain disabilities. For example, a student with severe hearing impairment might not be able to participate in Music Appreciation. The music course might be exempt from serving students with a severe hearing impairment, but not exempt from serving students with a visual impairment. Instructors who feel an exemption is warranted for a particular course should e-mail the Distance Education Instructional Accessibility Specialist. See more about the Exemption process here.
Delivery of online instructional materials
- A learning management system will be provided for faculty to deliver course materials.
- The district recommends for online courses a minimum use of the learning management system for the following: grade book, authentication, providing the syllabus, linking to outside publisher materials.
- In order to comply with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), Gradebooks need to be on SRJC resources and password protected.
- 3C Media Solutions is recommended for storage and delivery of webcast videos.
Password protection is important in order to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and to reduce liability for the school.
- To comply with the law, all SRJC online classes need to be behind password protection
- Syllabi can be open to the public, but all other components of the course need to be password protected.
Sources of Authority
- Association of Community and Junior Colleges’ Guide to Evaluating Distance Education and Correspondence Education
- Chancellor’s Office Distance Education Guidelines (2008 Omnibus Version, PDF)
- Board policy 2.17 and Board policy 2.17P
Six-Year Cycle of Review
Online classes are due for accessibility compliance reviews on a six-year cycle. Faculty whose courses have been identified for accessibility review in a given year will be contacted by the Distance Education Department starting in the late spring or summer to complete the review and pass for compliance by the end of the following February.
Classes due for review are per instructor, meaning each instructor's version of a course needs to be reviewed, even if the course material has been copied from another faculty's course.
Where Reviews are Conducted
The review can be conducted in person in the Instructional Accessibility Specialist's office in Doyle Library (room 4427, on the third floor in the CETL area) or from a distance by using Confer Zoom virtual meeting software.
First Time Online
Faculty teaching a particular course online for the first time are due to meet with the Instructional Accessibility Specialist for an accessibility review as soon as the materials are completed, ideally before the start of the class. If the instructor will be developing content as the class is being taught, it is best to review the class before it starts, and review it again upon completion of the materials.
Strategies for Content
Linking to Publisher and other Third-Party Sites
- Instructors are asked to make every effort to use publisher sites that are accessible. One way of determining if a publisher site is accessible is to check if the videos have captions or audio files have transcripts.
- It is a good practice to ask publishers for an accessibility statement or VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template).
- Third-party sites that are optional will not be checked for accessibility compliance if the links to optional sites are clearly mark as such.
- The Distance Education Instructional Accessibility Specialist will need to evaluate each required site in order to determine if a course is accessible.
Captioning and Transcripts Using the DECT Grant
- All instructor-created videos and audio presentations can be captioned and transcripts provided via a state-wide grant (DECT grant).
- Using the DECT grant, there will not be a significant work load issue for the instructor to obtain captioning or transcripts.
- Ordering captions through the DECT grant is now as simple as clicking a button when storing videos on 3C Media Solutions
3C Media Solutions
- 3C Media Solutions is an educational media distribution source for video content provided for all the campuses of the California Community Colleges System.
- 3C Media Solutions is the preferred method of delivery over the third party solutions such as YouTube or Vimeo because:
- 3C Media allows faculty to store large files
- Through 3C Media is the easiest way to order captions from the DECT Grant, the college does not have to provide payment
- The viewer is provided with a player, similar to YouTube or Vimeo that delivers a smooth user experience and reduces playback issues.
- Instructors are encouraged to use ConferZoom for recording full-length or streaming videos for online classes.
- Live captioning is available for those using ConferZoom for courses that are 51% or more online. Contact the Instructional Accessibility Specialist with help applying for this service.
- Automatic transcripts can be generated by turning on a feature. It is recommended that faculty turn this feature on when recording or live streaming via Zoom. See instructions on the ConferZoom PDF Handout.
- When an instructor plans to use a video for a single semester, then it will not need to be captioned, unless a deaf student enrolls in the course. Generally, this refers to courses where the content needs to be updated each semester. Such videos should be behind password protection of the learning management system.
Embedding/Linking to Third-Party Videos
- See the Multimedia Accessibility page for more information on accessibility of third-party videos.
Sources of Authority
- Title 5, Section 55200
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12100 et seq.)
- Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Sec. 794d)
- California Government Code section 11135
- Chancellor’s Office Distance Education: Access Guidelines for Students with Disabilities (issued January 2011, PDF)
- Board policy 2.17P