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:

Responsibilities 

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

SRJC ACCESSIBILITY POLICY

2.17 It is the policy of the Sonoma County Junior College District to conform to federal accessibility regulations, appropriately tailored to the specific circumstances of the District, in the procurement, development, maintenance, and/or implementation of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The District will maintain procedures to promote adherence to these regulations to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to the benefits and services of the District.

RESPONSIBILITIES

2.17P 3. All District employees who are responsible for information and communications technology produced, maintained, distributed, purchased and/or used by the SRJC community are required to ensure that accessibility standards for individuals with disabilities are met by said technology. District staff and resources shall be available to educate and support employees working towards meeting ICT accessibility regulations.

The responsibility lies with all district employees to adhere to accessibility standards. The District has provided staff and resources to assist faculty and staff.

2.17P 3.3. All District employees who create content published on District websites, Learning Management Systems and any other online platforms must ensure that such content is accessible and conforms to the current WCAG standards. Assistance and guidelines will be provided by the Instructional Accessibility Specialist and the Coordinator of Online Accessibility. The District will deliver regular accessibility training.

The Learning Management System and other online platforms are included in the policy. On the academic side, the Instructional Accessibility Specialist will provide assistance.

EXEMPTION PROCESS

2.17P 3.3. In the case of instructional online content, if after good faith effort to make such content accessible, it is determined that the required changes would fundamentally alter the nature of the instructional activity, consideration may be given for an Accessibility Exception. Requests for an Accessibility Exception will be considered on a case-by-case basis, based on the nature of the instructional content and the scope of the accessibility limitations.

A faculty member may submit an Accessibility Exception Request Form, which will be routed to the DSPS Coordinator and the Instructional Accessibility Specialist, who will then convene an Accessibility Exception Review Panel.

Accessibility Exception Review Panel:

The panel will be convened to determine whether the course shall receive an Accessibility Exception. The Instructional Accessibility Specialist, in conjunction with the DSPS Coordinator, will establish an Accessibility Exception Review Panel consisting of the following members (or designees):

  • Faculty member from Instructional Area with content area expertise
  • Department Chair or designee
  • The DSPS Coordinator
  • Director of Distance Education
  • Instructional Accessibility Specialist

Additional members may be added in order to ensure a meaningful review process. The faculty member initiating the request will not be a member of the panel.

The panel will consider whether making the course accessible will fundamentally alter the nature of the course, and will strive to reach consensus regarding the granting of an Accessibility Exception. If, after thorough discussion, consensus cannot be reached, the decision will be made by majority vote.

The panel will provide prompt written notice of their decision to the faculty member and supervising administrator. When a course receives the exception, information advising that a component of the course may be inaccessible will be documented and made publicly available, with a notation that any questions or concerns should be directed to the DSPS Coordinator.

There is an exemption process to protect academic freedom for faculty when remediating for accessibility compliance will fundamentally alter the nature of the instructional activity.

DISTANCE EDUCATION RESPONSIBILITIES

3.28P 4.D. (The Distance Education Department) Reviews all online and hybrid courses for accessibility compliance.

AFA Contract, Article 32.05 A. The District will provide the necessary support for online course accessibility compliance. 

The Distance Education department has been tasked with reviewing all online and hybrid courses for accessibility compliance. The District will offer the necessary support, which will be provided by the Distance Education Department, largely from the Instructional Accessibility Specialist. Support also may be provided by the Coordinator of Online Accessibility in the IT Department.