Digital Accessibility Toolkit

Editor's note:

The Columbia University School of Professional Studies recognizes that accessibility is essential to ensuring equity and inclusion. While we have a strong commitment to accessibility for all, it is also evident that more can always be accomplished to promote and practice a culture of inclusion across the school. As Columbia University President Bollinger reminds us in his Diversity Mission Statement, “Building a diverse university community is not the work of a moment. It requires sustained commitment, concerted effort, and the attention of us all.

Domi Enders
November 11, 2019

Digital accessibility touches nearly every aspect of campus life and work, from applications and websites to courses and content. Adult students have a higher incidence of disability and are less likely to seek accommodations than the general student population, so it is critical to anticipate their needs, especially in online classes. Research shows that compliance with mandated federal and state standards ends up helping all students and staff succeed: from those who use assistive technology devices, to those whose first language is not English, to those who benefit from having more than one method of accessing content and multimedia in courses. It is in this spirit of inclusion that the Online Curriculum & Instruction team has developed a series of resources to support faculty and staff in improving the digital accessibility of course content and documentation in general.

  • Getting Started with Digital Accessibility: a primer that includes Quick Wins you can implement to make ongoing, small-scale improvements to the accessibility of the content you create. 
  • Digital Accessibility Toolkit: the soup-to-nuts, advanced version including topics covered in the primer plus detailed how-to's addressing the full scope of accessibility as it relates to document and multimedia creation.

Did You Know?

The number of people who consider themselves disabled is huge on its own. But there is also a large percentage of the population who truly benefit from digital accessibility, but who do not identify as having a disability.

Examples of these communities include:

  • Aging population—may need captioning on videos or larger font sizes to read the text
  • Users whose native or primary language is not English—may need more time to read text on auto-rotating slideshows
  • Users with cognitive limitations—may need accessibility-friendly fonts or bulleted content to help focus
  • Users with limited or low vision—may need to zoom in on content to be able to read and understand it
  • Users with situational disabilities—may need better color contrast so glare on a screen does not interfere with them reading the content
  • Users with temporary disabilities—may need to access everything with only their keyboard because they are unable to use a mouse

So when you consider these additional groups, the number of people needing web content built in an accessible way is much higher than the number of people reporting that they are disabled. And of course, that number will continue to grow as people live longer and technology becomes even more prevalent and important to our daily lives.

Feel free to contact the Accessibility and Inclusion Working Group with any questions or issues you may have related to digital accessibility: [email protected]