Accessible Syllabus Checklist

Whether you create your syllabus in word processor like MS Word or with a web page editing program like Dreamweaver, the following features are common to accessible electronic documents because they promote the ability of the reader to quickly find information whether reading it on the screen, on paper, or with an audio screen reader.

  • Reading Order

    Text should make sense if every line is read from left to right. Tables or text boxes should not be used to position text. Learn more...
  • Heading Styles

    Syllabus section titles use Heading styles to provide an outline structure. Learn more...
  • Table Headers

    Tables are used to organize columns of correlated information or data. Tables have a specified header row containing column labels. Learn more...
  • Alternative Text for Images

    Alternative text descriptions (alt-text or captions) are provided for any images which convey meaning. Learn more...
  • Learner Resources

    Syllabus contains or links to relevant course-specific and campus resources such as the library, academic policies, and disability support services. Learn more...

Checklist Point Explanations

Reading Order

A screen reader used by the student with disabilities may not correctly read text which is contained in specially inserted text boxes. Information which is positioned using tabs to simulate a table or column may not read properly either. Tabular information such as a grading chart or calendar should be created using a table instead. Contact TLP if you need assistance determining if your document's reading order presents a barrier for students using Assistive technology.

Heading Styles

The headings on this web page are an example of structuring a document with heading styles. Similarly, the syllabus should be structured as an outline with major and minor headings representing the different levels of the hierarchy. For instance, "Course Requirements" might be a heading level 1, while the sub-section "Attendance" might a heading level 2.

Microsoft Word: The Heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3) are located in the Styles and Formatting palette. Consult the Accessibility Tutorials page for a complete explanation of using this feature.
Web Page / HTML: The Heading Styles are often very prominent editing features of most HTML editing programs such as Dreamweaver and the HTML Creator. If you need assistance using headings or configuring the appearance of headings in your syllabus, contact TLP for assistance.

Table Headers

Tables should include a header row describing the content of each column, which makes the table more usable by all students including those using Assistive technology such as screen readers.

Microsoft Word: To define the header row, check the box marked "Repeat as header row" in the Table Properties dialog box. Consult the Accessibility Tutorials page for a complete explanation of using this feature.
Web Page / HTML: To learn how to mark table header rows, see the article on table headers from the Chico Web Developer Community.

Alternative Text for Images

Images used to convey information should always contain a text description or "alternative text" to convey meaning for users of Assistive technology. Purely decorative images may not require an alternative description.

Microsoft Word: Alternative text can be added to an image from the Web tab of the Properties dialog (Format Menu). However, this feature is not available on Word for Macintosh 2004; Mac users can add a visible caption underneath the image instead. Consult the Accessibility Tutorials page for a complete explanation of using this feature.
Web Page / HTML: Most modern web editing programs including the HTML Creator and Dreamweaver request alternative text when images are added. To learn how to add alternative text to existing web pages, see the article on text equivalents from the CSU, Chico Web Developer Community.

Learner Resources

As defined in the Rubric for Online Instruction, the online course materials should contain information supporting student success in a course. The syllabus is a good place to put some of these resources which are critical to students beginning the course, including contact information, expectations of student performance, and a statement inviting students with disabilities to make arrangements for accommodations. Other resources can be placed in either the syllabus or other documents and links available from the course's online site, such as library guides, a link to the Student Learning Center or degree program requirements. For more information, see the Rubric for Online Instruction's Learner Support and Resources category or examine the accessible syllabus template provided by TLP.

Resources

Syllabus Disability Statement from DSS Office

Accessibility Tutorials for Microsoft Word

Chico Accessible Syllabus Template for MS Word

Web Developer Community and Knowledge Base (Chico State Wiki)

Faculty Support

Phone: (530) 898-6167
Email: tlp@csuchico.edu
Hours: Monday - Thursday
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Walk-in Lab:
Miriam Library 003