Five Tips for Accessibility in Online Learning

Most of us are learning as we go with online education these days. We are trying experiments. Some of them work well and some of them help us to grow in this area by their failure. We certainly don’t want to create any stumbling blocks for those who truly want to learn and grow in faith (Matthew 18:6). So, we are faced with the question: how can we make online learning accessible for all people?

I recently attended a webinar for folks in higher education interested in this question. The presenter, Dr. Larry Hopperton, Director of Distance Learning Technology at Tyndale University in Toronto, Canada, offered five helpful suggestions regarding accessibility as we set up Bible studies and other classes online.

  1. When using either a Learning Management System (LMS) like Moodle or Blackboard or even uploading a Word file, use the default font settings. We all like to be creative, but the default fonts have been chosen because they are the ones most easily read by people who may experience vision problems.
  2. If you have people who are using reading machines in your congregation, be sure to use either these default fonts or if creating a pdf from a Word file don’t just “save as”, but instead export as a pdf. This causes the settings for disability accessibility to be activated so reading machines can read the pdf.
  3. In choosing colors for text or important images, try to avoid red and green to aid those experiencing red-green color blindness.
  4. When uploading photos or images, tag these images with descriptive words, so that those with low vision can appreciate the image you’ve shared.
  5. When uploading videos, make sure there are captions. Platforms like YouTube do this automatically, although you’ll want to check that the captioning is accurate. Here’s a fun example of what can happen when you don’t check #5   Bad Example of Captioning


What helpful advice do you have to offer as you’re venturing into online learning? We welcome your responses in the comments on this site or within the Hope4CE Facebook group.


Kathy L. Dawson, Benton Family Associate Professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, Hope4CE Steering Committee Member

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