Disability Resources aims to provide students with equal access to all of SOU's classes and programs. Increasingly, technology provides both increased opportunities for independence in equal access and barriers to equal access. This page was created to help faculty and staff learn more about how to promote new opportunities and how they can help remove barriers.

The Basics: What is Web Accessibility and Why Should You Care?

Essentially, Web accessibility means the ability of people with a variety of disabilities to perceive, understand, and use the Web and its related information and technologies. Looking at some examples: how will a student who is blind be able to perceive a diagram illustrating a chemical process posted on a Blackboard site? How will a student who is Deaf perceive an audio-only podcast? How will a student with a visual-processing learning disability understand a two-page narrative process of steps? How will a student with a mobility impairment use a live chat room when typing with a headstick?

Currently, SOU's student population includes over 450 students that have registered with Disability Resources as having one or more disabilities. This translates to around 6% of the student population, making the students with disabilities subgroup larger than any student ethnic subgroup. By comparison, 18.1% of the general population in the United States has a disability (2002 SIPP, U.S. Census Bureau).

There are some simple reasons to ensure equal access to Web information for these students:

  1. It's the right thing to do. Each student with a disability has paid tuition and works toward the same degree expectations as any other student of SOU. We, as faculty and staff, may need to make adjustments in how we deliver our programs, classes, and services, but these are students like any other students.
  2. It's the legal thing to do. As a public university, SOU must comply with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). This states:

Subject to the provisions of this title, no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity. [SEC. 202. Discrimination, 42 USC 12132]

To do this, we use WCAG 2.0 Standards. The sections below will help you make sure your information is accessible to everyone, regardless of ability.

Need a Quick Guide for Accessibility?

The National Center on Disability and Access to Education has a concise and helpful guide.


Moodle is used across campus for both on-campus and distance education courses. Find out about Moodle's accessibility.

Equally important is the content that is put on Moodle. When selecting content to post, take a look at the accessibility of that particular content. The information below can give you a great deal of help in figuring out how to do so. There's also helpful information available from the Center for Instructional Support.

Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)

Microsoft has developed excellent guides to making documents in their Office suite accessible.

Microsoft has also made available a very handy Accessibility Checker for their products. It is available in the most recent versions of Word (both Mac and PC) and in Office 365. SOU has a site license for Office 365, so it can certainly be used. Here's a guide to using the Microsoft Accessibility Checker for Windows, and one for using the Microsoft Accessibility Checker for Mac.

Google Docs

Google Forms, unfortunately, has some issues with accessibility. We recommend avoiding Google Forms and using RackForms instead. If you need instruction in how to use RackForms, please contact your Computing Coordinator.

GrackleDocs is a free Chrome extension to make sure that your Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are accessible.



Tables need to read in logical (left to right, top to bottom) order, with no merged cells. For data tables, make sure the top row content describes the content of each column. Then mark it up as a header, as follows:

  • Select the row
  • In the Joomla formatting tools, select the Table Cell Properties icon (it's in the third row of tools; icon is a table with a single cell highlighted). Alternatively, right-click, select Cell, then select Table Cell Properties
  • from Cell Type: select Header
  • Click Update

Depending on your table, you may also need to mark up the cells in the first column as a header; just select the cells in the first column and use the instructions above. This allows the data cells to be read with both the column and row header information for context. For example, this fictitious table of course enrollment in three terms:

101 30 28 27
102 26 25 30
103 21 25 28

Reading this table visually, you would follow the headers in both the columns and the rows to understand that Fall enrollment in 101 was 30, Winter enrollment in 102 was 25, etc. Table column and row headers allow this information to be read in that same way by screenreaders.

PDF Files

PDF files come from several sources. If you...