What Is Online Accessibility?

While making your online courses more accessible may seem foreboding, in many respects you may already be on your way thanks to technology. Webcourses@UCF is quite accessible on its own. However, external material such as PDFs, Powerpoints, presentations with audio, videos, and publisher content you choose to place in your online courses will benefit from additional review for accessibility. When you create materials for your online course, please keep Section 508 standards and universal design principles in mind. “Universal design means that, rather than designing your instruction for the average student, you design for potential students with a broad range in ability, disability, . . . learning style, native language, and other characteristics” (Burgstahler, 2010). Adhering to these standards will not only benefit students with disabilities but will help assure that all of your students will be able to access and use the online content you wish to share with them. To learn more about UCF’s commitment to providing accessible course materials to all students and the support services available to assist you with this, please read the Provost Letter (PDF) sent to UCF faculty regarding ADA-compliant course materials (September 2015).

You might find it informative to review the Faculty Multimedia Workshop Series session on Creating Accessible Online Course Content in Webcourses@UCF. Use the resources below to assist you in creating course materials that are accessible and usable by all students. Depending on the type of document you would like to create, you may click on the appropriate link below, or select from the menu options on the left.

How Likely is it that I will Have a Student in my Course Who Requires Accommodation?

In Spring 2017, more than 3% of all UCF students have contacted Student Accessibility Services for accommodation requests. While this number seems small, each student is registered for multiple courses, impacting 41% of all courses offered at UCF, whether face-to-face, online, or mixed-mode. This means that over 71% of all faculty will have at least one student with an accommodation need in the Spring 2017 semester, and accommodation requests are steadily increasing.

How Do I Know if I Have a Student Who Requires Accommodation?

If a student registered for your course requires accommodation, they will submit a request through the office of Student Accessibility Services. After the student submits their request, you will receive an email from SAS describing the needed accommodation and will be directed to a Course Content Survey asking what materials you plan to use for that course. For example, if you use multiple YouTube videos in your course, there may be higher quality videos with closed captioning that can be provided through the UCF Library. If you use PDFs of photocopied articles, this is another area where the Library may be able to provide accessible versions for your course. (In fact, if you use the Ask-A-Librarian chat, you can receive digital files directly during regular business hours.)

Creating Accessible Pages in Webcourses@UCF

Webcourses@UCF Pages are the preferred format to present content in your online course since they have HTML code behind the scenes. As a result, Pages can be opened quickly using any internet browser, do not require additional software in order to view them, and can be easily navigated by screen readers when formatted properly.

Creating Accessible PDF Documents Within Word

PDF documents may be appropriate to use if the document is a form, historical document, or if the document has has a complex layout. PDF documents can be created to be accessible, however, they are not as navigable with a screen reader as HTML and require Adobe Reader in order to view them. For more information, please view PDF Formatting Guidelines.

Quizzes or Surveys

You may create quizzes, anonymous surveys, and self-tests for your online course. Although you may create these assessments directly in Webcourses@UCF, we recommend that you use a software program called Respondus to help you create these assessments quickly and efficiently. UCF has a site license for Respondus and is available for UCF faculty to use free of charge.

For more information, please view Quiz Formatting Guidelines.

Accessible Multimedia Elements

For more information, please view Creating Accessible Multimedia.

Check Your Course’s Accessibility with UDOIT

Visit the UDOIT Page for more information.


Burgstahler, S. (2010). Equal Access: Universal design of instruction. In DO-IT: Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology. Retrieved from