Who is Responsible for Accessibility of Online Courses

Accessibility Requirements by Federal and State Law

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:


Instructors are required to ensure that the content used in their online and hybrid courses are accessible to all students. In order to understand how compliance is achieved, see the table below of responsibilities.

Instructor Responsibilities

Distance Education ​Responsibilities

  • Maintain accessible pages in the course management system (Canvas). 
    • Add alternative text to images
    • Use correct headings and lists
    • Add table header cells to data tables
    • Use colors with strong contrast
    • Write descriptive hyperlink text

See the Canvas Accessibility page for more information.​

  • Offer training and consultations to faculty.
  • Provides how-to tutorials and step-by-step instructions via the Distance Education web site.
  • Reviews courses for accessibility and provide feedback and support to instructors.
  • Assists instructors with difficult accessibility compliance tasks including remediation of PDFs, Word, and PowerPoint documents.
  • Support accessibility plan development to proactively address course barriers. 

Accessibility Responsibilities According to Board Policy

District Responsibilities

3.12.3P  1. Whenever possible and financially feasible, when acquiring or making determinations about online course management systems and software, the District will seek out, design, or select software and course delivery systems that assure accessibility to persons with disabilities.

The district has provided the Canvas course management system, which satisfies accessibility requirements for purchased software.

3.12.3P  2. Whenever possible and financially feasible, accommodation will be “built into” online courses from the outset. Adoption of access solutions which include assigning assistants (i.e. sign language interpreters, readers) to work with an individual student to provide access to online courses will be considered only as a last resort, when efforts to enhance the native accessibility of the course material have failed or are not financially feasible.

The district has determined with advice from counsel that accommodation (assisting students with disabilities for materials that are not accessible) is not sufficient to adhere to the law. SRJC course materials that are online or web-based need to be made accessible from the outset.

Distance Education Responsibilities

3.12.3P  3. The College, under the supervision of the assigned dean, will create and maintain “SRJC Accessibility Design Principles for Web-based Class Materials.” These will be readily available to guide instructors.

3.12.3P  4. The College will perform an Accessibility Review for all new online course sections, expected to launch beginning with courses scheduled for fall 2010 and thereafter.  In addition, the College will perform an Accessibility Review for all online courses at least every six years. This review will include all class material required or realistically necessary for completion of a class, and all online class materials hosted at SRJC.

The Distance Education department has been tasked with maintaining a web site to assist faculty with finding, creating, and remediating course materials to be accessible, and performing a six year cycle of review of all online and hybrid courses.

Instructor Responsibilities with Assistance from DE and DRD

3.12.3P  5. Instructors are responsible to ensure that their online classes meet SRJC accessibility guidelines. In order to accomplish this, they will be provided with assistance the (sic) Distance Education Department and the Disability Resources Department.

Ultimately it is the responsibility of the instructor to provide accessible course materials. Distance Education through the Instructional Accessibility Specialist will provide assistance to faculty. Disability Resources will assist students with accommodation when necessary.

District resources are limited, therefore whenever possible, it is recommended that faculty find, create, and remediate their online course materials before requesting assistance from DE or DRD. We recommend faculty consult with the Instructional Accessibility Specialist when embarking on multimedia projects or adding non-captioned media to your course.