Accessibility allows all users to access online content, including those with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive and neurological disabilities. It’s essential to creating a truly open textbook – one that’s free and accessible for all students.
Universal design is the process of creating products (devices, environments, systems and processes) that are usable by people with the widest possible range of abilities, operating within the widest possible range of situations (environments, conditions and circumstances). It arose out of the broader accessibility movement, as well as the advent of adaptive and assistive technology.
In the context of open textbooks, universal design for learning or UDL means removing potential barriers to access for students by designing content for all learning styles.
If you’re not sure how well your textbook utilises the principles of UDL, ask yourself:
Below is a list of minimum requirements your open textbook should meet to be considered accessible:
For more information about web accessibility standards, see the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Once you’ve done all you can to make your textbook accessible, it’s a good idea to include an accessibility statement. An accessibility statement provides information to readers with questions about the accessibility of your textbook, including:
Some tips for writing a useful accessibility statement:
‘Universal Design’, ‘Appendix A: Checklist for Accessibility’ and ‘Accessibility Statements’ and in B.C. Open Textbook Accessibility Toolkit (2nd ed.) by Amanda Coolidge, Sue Donner and Tara Robertson, used under a CC BY 4.0 licence.
‘Accessibility’ in Authoring Open Textbooks by Melissa Falldin and Karen Lauritsen, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence, based on Modifying an Open Textbook: What You Need To Know by the Open Textbook Network, used under a CC BY 4.0 licence.