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Accessibility checks for non-experts

Steps for non-experts to check accessibility of educational technology

  • Try searching to see if the vendor or creator has posted information about accessibility of the technology. If not, or if they acknowledge they are not fully accessible, or not meeting Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), this is likely a problem. If they posted a VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) with a reasonably recent date (within a year or so) and all the items listed on the VPAT say “supported” or “not applicable,” they’re documenting that the product is accessible, which is good/better than average (although they are not legally required to be truthful or accurate).  If you are able to communicate with the vendor or creator (such as for a product you pay for), ask them for a current VPAT.  Read any comments filled out on the VPAT and ask for help if you don't understand how any problems listed could affect users with disabilities.  See the last bullet below for help.  
  • Try doing a simple keyboard accessibility test. “Keyboard accessibility is one of the most important aspects of web accessibility,” according to the prominent WebAIM.
  • Try this cheat sheet on Identifying Web Accessibility Issues, particularly step 3 on zooming in and step 4, checking any videos for captioning.  However, for step 3, zoom in twice as much as the cheat sheet recommends.  (Standards require 400%, as of 2022.)
  • If you discover the technology is not fully accessible, consider whether the accessibility problems would prevent students or instructors with disabilities from performing necessary functions to achieve learning outcomes you intend them to achieve with the technology. 
  • If the preceding steps leave you with questions about the accessibility of the technology, and if you want help with the preceding steps, consider asking Hunter's Center for Online Learning or CUNY’s Accessibility Specialist for help. You can ask them to explain to you how they think any problems would affect students with disabilities. They may also be able to help with brainstorming ideas for alternatives if needed.