Reaching ALL students with Web-based resources

This week I’m featuring a few tools after a colleague asked me about accessibility during a Web 2.0 presentation recently.  His basic question was “How can we insure that the web-based resources we use with students are not marginalizing them?”  After an awkward pause, I answered, “Let me look into that.” So, after some research, I’ve come up with three easy-to-use sites that can be used to evaluate how accessible a webpage is for ALL students.  Besides the descriptions, I have also included a short tutorial that demonstrates the tools and the reports that each of the sites generated when evaluating my professional webpage (http://web.me.com/oliverdreon/Site/Home.html).

WAVE (http://wave.webaim.org/) is a web accessibility evaluation tool that examines a web page and gives a report on potential problems.  While the site itself cannot insure that a webpage is accessible by everyone, WAVE highlights potential problems by overlaying icons and error messages on top of the scanned webpage.

Juicy Studio’s Image Analyzer (http://juicystudio.com/services/image.php) When individuals with visual impairment access the Internet, they count on Alternate Text and Long Descriptions to replace information that may be displayed through images.  Image Analyzer examines whether a webpage has included sufficient data to replace any images and creates a short report detailing any warnings or errors for the webpage.

AccessColor (http://www.accesskeys.org/tools/color-contrast.html) tests the color contrast and color brightness between the foreground and background of text displayed on a webpage.  As someone who struggles with certain colors, I often have difficulties seeing text on some webpages.  A tool like AccessColor can help educators choose more accessible text colors for webpages they construct.  It can also be a beneficial tool for evaluating web resources that we incorporate into our lessons.

Used in tandem, I think these tools will help us as we select web-based resources to use with our students and as we build web-based modules for both online and face-to-face instructional environments.  If you’re creating a webpage for your classes, be sure to use the tools to evaluate the finished product and to help insure that you’re reaching all of your students.

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