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prolearningnetwork logoThe Professional Learning Network (PLN) contains hundreds of helpful resource documents and videos that are meant to be shared among colleagues at all 114 California Community Colleges (CCC) campuses across the state.

Before these items can be posted, they must comply with Section 508, an amendment to the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973—a federal law that mandates all electronic and information technology developed for use by the federal government (or websites which received government funding) be accessible to people with disabilities. This means that not only is the PLN website itself required to be accessible, but all supporting materials are as well.

What Is ‘Accessible’?

What does it mean to be accessible? For documents, it means that people with hearing, vision or other physical disabilities can easily access and read the relevant materials. Sometimes this is through a third-party system, like the JAWS screen reader, which will read PDFs and other documents to users. But in order for documents to work properly with these screen readers, they may need to be remediated.

Remediation is the act of prepping a document to work with a screen reader or other device. If you’re working in a Microsoft Office program (Word, PowerPoint or Excel), you’re in luck because those programs contain an automatic accessibility checker that will flag the portions of the document that need remediation. It will flag issues with reading order (making sure that the items on a page flow in a logical order when read by the screen reader), missing alt tags and descriptions (all images need to have descriptive text added so those with vision disabilities will understand them), among other things.

Accessible Document Training

The Professional Learning Network has a new resource page that includes links to videos that can train you in making your documents and videos accessible, not just for use on the PLN, but for general use at your college or in your online class. To learn more and see the curated list of videos, visit the Creating Accessible Materials page. This page will continue to grow and additional links and tips will be added in order to help you and your campus create materials with accessibility in mind.

You will need to be a registered member of the PLN to view the videos featured on the page, so sign up here today!

Andrea Chatwood is Online Content Curator for
the California Community Colleges Professional Learning Network



CCC TechEDge News and CCC Technology for Student Success News ceased publication in 2018.

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