Student Support

Digital Publisher Content


Enquiring about the accessibility of DIGITAL Instructional Resources

Establishing the Context

Explain to the publisher representative that SMC has a legal mandate to adopt instructional resources that are accessible to all students including students with disabilities and that you need to know the product’s accessibility status before adopting it. Few publisher representatives have specific accessibility information, but most publishers now have accessibility point people. Sometimes the publisher representative needs to make the initial referral. You may be sent the product’s VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template), which summarizes the accessibility of the product for each applicable Section 508 standard. Unfortunately, these documents are often vague and obtuse.


Are the content, navigation, and interactive components of the product Section 508 compliant? If the product is considered accessible, ask “How was the accessibility validated?” Was there usability testing by people with disabilities? Which disabilities were considered? In other words, how does the company know accessibility was achieved?

Are the content, navigation, and interactive components of the product accessible to the following groups of people?

People who are blind and use screen reading software and/or refreshable Braille displays? (Do all images and animations have text equivalents? Are there long descriptions of important, complex images like graphs? Is navigating everything by keyboard possible? Is the text accessible with a screen reader? Is there any inaccessible Flash content?)

People who are partially sighted and use magnification software?

People who talk to the computer using voice recognition software?

People who are deaf/hard-of-hearing? (Are all multimedia captioned? Are there transcripts for all audio files?)

People who are color blind?

People who learn better by listening so they use text-to-speech software to listen to text?

People who navigate by keyboard alone?

Does your platform enable giving individual students extra time on tests? Does this extra time need to be set up for each quiz/test or does it get entered once?

Are all PowerPoint presentations available for download? What are the standards for PowerPoint accessibility? Are all videos within PowerPoint files captioned? Do all images have alt text? Are all complex images (e.g., charts) explained with longer descriptions? Does the outline view contain all the text?

Are PDF files text-based, tagged files?

Are math and science symbols and formulas accessible?

Can all timed aspects of the interface be adjusted?

Can aspects of the format be adjusted based on user preferences (e.g., text size and color, background color, screen reading rate)?

If the product is partially accessible, which features are not accessible?

In what alternate formats (i.e., What are the workarounds?) can you provide us with content that is not otherwise accessible?

Should any aspects of this product fail to provide the promised accessibility, can your company provide accessible alternate formats for delivering the same functionality and content? A timeline for fixing the accessibility problems?


The PALM Initiative

Portland Community College