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Faculty Guide to Accessibility

All schools at Johns Hopkins University must take reasonable and meaningful action to ensure that newly authored content as of January 1, 2021 consistently meets industry accessibility standards, specifically Web Content Accessiblity Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. WCAG 2.1 covers a wide range of recommendations for making content more accessible to a wider range of people. These standards ensure that students with disabilities gain equal access to all content at JHU and will also improve teaching and learning for everyone by providing alternate and complementary versions of content. For a useful, easily digestible starting point, please visit this WCAG checklist.

Existing Systems and Resources

At Peabody, we believe that accessibility is critical for all learners, and we have been continuously implementing solutions and content to address these needs. We have fully implemented the Simple Syllabus platform, which is natively WCAG compliant; we have adopted Panopto, which offers built-in machine captioning for all videos; we have adopted Zoom, which offers built-in captioning of recordings, and will soon integrate automated captioning of live events; we have encouraged the use of eReserves in your courses through the Arthur Friedheim Library; and we recently adopted Blackboard Ally, a tool for assessing content accessibility and providing alternate versions of content automatically within the Blackboard learning management system. 

Faculty Digital Teaching Resources for Accessibility

To support Peabody’s efforts to meet these expectations relative specifically to teaching and learning, the Academic Technology and Instructional Design (AT&ID) team has created an evolving set of resources. All Peabody faculty have access to the Blackboard organization Faculty Digital Teaching Resources (JHED authentication required). In that site, a newly updated “Accessibility” section has been added with all the information you will need to meet these requirements, along with information on how to get more help.

Minimum Requirements

At a minimum, faculty need to:

  • Ensure that you are using the provided document templates (Word, PPT), which promote use of recommended contrast ratios, alt text for images, accessible fonts, headings, and logical reading order and are compatible with screen reader software.
  • Provide students with alternative accessible formats for accessing the content of video and audio presentations. Post slide presentations, transcripts, and descriptions alongside video and audio content. For any content in Blackboard, Blackboard Ally provides some of these alternatives automatically.
  • Incorporate captioning into all synchronous (Zoom) and asynchronous (Zoom recordings, Panopto) video production processes. These tools are already provided or soon will be in our supported video platforms.
  • Request course readings through eReserves rather than posting scanned PDFs, as AFL can protect against copyright violations and use accessible version when available.
  • Incorporate addition of “alt text” into all document production processes at the platform or document level.
  • Avoid the use of images of text and avoid the presentation of data that relies solely on color.

Additional Resources and Training

Resources for all of these requirements – including Office templates, PDF guidelines, image and video help, and advanced resources – can be found on the Faculty Digital Teaching Resources site mentioned above (JHED authentication required).

Training will also be provided throughout the academic year to ensure faculty and other content creators are up to date on these expectations.