Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
CUNY LIBRARIES ARE OPEN both ONLINE and on campus! We are open online for reference & instruction. E-resources are fully available. CUNY Libraries physical spaces are also open for quiet study, computers and wifi, materials pickup, and more. Please note that library plans are subject to change based on the evolving pandemic situation and plans at each campus. At this time, due to the pandemic, campus access (including libraries) may be restricted to each campus’ current students, faculty and staff. Some libraries require reservations. Please check our College Libraries page for details about the library you plan to visit.
Support Students Impacted by Coronavirus Crisis Donate Now
This guide was created to assist CUNY Librarians, faculty, staff & OER developers create accessible content and accessible Open Educational Resources (OER). On this guide you will find information on:
- Creating Accessible Content: Tips on how to create accessible Word docs, PDFs, Images, Videos and other multimedia
- Platforms: What OER platforms are accessible? What are the pros and cons of using each platform?
- Evaluating your OER site: Determine if your site is accessible and see how to fix issues on your site
- VPATs: Voluntary Product Accessibility Template: Collection of VPATs from various vendors to see relevant information on how a vendor’s product or service claims to conform to the Section 508 Standards.
Accessibility Principles (go to page)
Learn about the four main principles of accessibility, described by the acronym POUR (perceivable, operable, understandable and robust) and how those principles are reflected in the international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) CUNY follows.
Content covered: Why Accessibility Matters, WCAG, POUR.
Accessibility Best Practices (go to page)
Detailed accessibility best practices information and instructions.
Content covered: Accessibility Best Practices for Titles, Text/Typographical Layout, Headings, Lists, Meaningful Link Text, Alternative Text (alt-text), Videos, Audio, Tables, Color and Color Contrast and Accessibility Design Do's and Don'ts.
Creating Accessible Content (go to page)
How do you make sure the content you are adding to your OER is accessible? What do you need to do to make sure a PDF is accessible? Do you know what "optical character recognition" is when scanning? What is "alt-text" and how do you add it to your images on your OER? What are the best practices when adding images, videos, pdfs, word documents, powerpoints or podcasts? This section will attempt to answer these questions and provide you with some useful information and tools to make sure your content is accessible to as many users as possible.
Content covered: EPUBS, Images, Word Documents, PDFs, PodCasts, PowerPoint and Videos.
Platform Evaluations (go to page)
Which OER resource platforms are accessible? What are the pros and cons of each platform? How is accessibility different (if it is) between the users version and the creators version? Are there tips/helpful reminders to creators about accessibility issues as they are adding content? Read about how each OER platform meets accessibility standards and what you will have to do to ensure your OER is accessible if you use a specific platform.
Platforms covered: Canvas, Dropbox, ePortfolio (Digication), GitHub, Google Sites, LibGuides (Springshare), Lumen Learning, Manifold Scholarship, MyOpenMath, OER Commons (ISKME), OpenLab, Scalar and WordPress (.org & .com).
Evaluation Tools (go to page)
Is your site accessible? Do all your images have "alt-text"? What is "alt-text"? Can someone who is colorblind see your site? Can someone navigate your OER without using a mouse? Use these tools to determine if your site is accessible and how to fix any issues you find.
Evaluation Tools covered: WAVE, AChecker, aXe: the Accessibility Engine (Deque Systems), tota11y, Accessibility Bookmarklets, Color Contrast Checker, Colorblind Web Page Filter, PDF Accessibility Checker and EPUB Validator (beta).
Search for VPATs (go to page)
Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs) are one of the tools to see how a electronic resource or platform addresses accessibility. They are filled out by vendors. Search here for a product's VPAT and see is that OER platform accessible? Is that database usable by a person with low vision? Does the vendor check all the PDFs on that OER you are wanting to adopt? A vendor's VPAT will provide this information.
A 2015-2016 survey found nineteen percent of undergraduates and twelve percent of graduates reported having a disability.
View full chapter: Digest of Education Statistics - Chapter 3: Postsecondary Education
View disability table specifically: Table 311.10. Number and percentage distribution of students enrolled in postsecondary institutions, by level, disability status, and selected student characteristics: 2015-16
Citation: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Digest of Education Statistics, 2017 (2018-070)
Attribution:[GitHub] (2017, Dec. 19) Accessibility: it's more than just screen readers - GitHub Universe 2017 [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/RGIV75r2H-Y
CUNY affirms its commitment to making it's web-based, electronic content accessible. CUNY is further committed to a strategy of product enhancements that will keep pace with changing technology, accessibility guidelines, and regulations. CUNY uses the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Version 2.0, AA conformance level as its accessibility standard. - CUNY Accessibility statement
The worldwide OER movement is rooted in the human right to access high-quality education. This shift in educational practice is not just about cost savings and easy access to openly licensed content; it’s about participation and co-creation. OER offer opportunities for systemic change in teaching and learning content through engaging educators in new participatory processes and effective technologies for engaging with learning. OER Commons
OER image By Stefflja (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons