Faculty Adoption of Accessible Textbook Materials

Adoption of Accessible Content:

All instructional materials must be accessible for students with disabilities. Federal disability legislation mandates that institutions of higher education adhere to accessibility standards when designing, adopting and procuring educational materials and resources for the delivery of course content. This includes content you plan to order through the bookstore, or obtain by other means. Unfortunately, publishers are not held to these standards. As a result, a significant amount of supplemental content (companion websites, video/audio content, interactive learning programs) available from the publishers is not accessible to CSB/SJU students with disabilities.  As such, we ask that you verify the following information with the publisher before adopting course materials. Publisher representatives should be well-aware of these topics, given the increasing demand for institutions to meet the requirements within federal disability legislation. 

  1. Are your e-books and online resources compatible with screen readers like JAWS? Rationale: Individuals who are blind utilize screen-reading programs to access real text. Embedded text, text content that requires plugins (e.g. Flash, Java, etc.) and animations are often inaccessible for individuals who utilize screen readers.

  2. Accessible online content - If there is a companion website or online component, is it fully accessible? Rationale: Websites must be designed and coded, so that individuals with disabilities can access them.

  3. Captioning and audio transcription - Is all video content captioned and is audio content transcribed? Rationale: All video content must be captioned and all audio recordings should have a full transcript. If the publisher does not provide captions or transcripts, ask if this is something, they can provide before the start of the semester. Please encourage them to make accessible content a priority.

  4. Interactivity - Can all interactivity (media players, quizzes, flashcards, etc.) be completed by keyboard alone (no mouse required)? Rationale: Individuals who are blind, and individuals with some upper mobility impairments may not have the use of a mouse. Interactive content is accessible when it can be accessed by keyboard commands alone.

  5. Web Accessibility Compliance Statement - Does the vendor have a VPAT or WCAG 2.0 AA compliance statement? Rationale: Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, or VPAT, is a voluntary form that can be completed by vendors to evaluate their product’s compliance with federal accessibility standards. Buyers can use the information included in the VPAT to determine how accessible a product is, and identify any potential barriers.

 If answers to any of the above questions are no, we advise you to identify accessible content from a different publisher. Adoption of inaccessible course materials will create barriers for students with disabilities and place the institution at risk for litigation.

Adapted from, Hello Publisher Representatives by Jess Thompson, Olympic College