Publisher and Third Party Content Accessibility Tips

Woman looking through bookshelves

Using Publisher or Third Party Content in Courses

Textbook publishers, application developers, and websites and services create a vast array of content options that can enhance your course and provide great educational opportunities for your students. Taking time to review overall accessibility of any content you are considering is an important step in making sure all students that take UNT courses benefit from those additions.

DSI-CLEAR's accessibility team reviews course content to ensure it meets legal and functional standards. Many faculty find amazing options to take their students to new levels. With that vast array of options, faculty should take steps to ensure initial accessibility before committing to third party materials, programs, or platforms in course content.

Check for Accessibility

A full accessibility review takes time and specialized knowledge and tools. You can take a few steps when you are looking at content or speaking to a publisher representative that might help you make a decision.

  1. Ask for a VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) document for the content.
    This is a voluntary document that describes accessibility of a product. It can be a very long document or rather short depending on the product's testing and complexity. While you don't have to read the entire document, check the date it was produced. If the VPAT is over a year old or if you know the product has had updates or versions that are not specified in the VPAT, it may mean accessibility specifications are no longer valid. 
  2. Check for accessibility statements on a product or service's website.
    Many companies provide detailed information on how they have addressed accessibility for their site or product's users. Some statements indicate the content is accessible when using specific assistive technologies which may indicate it will not be useful for individuals using different technologies.
  3. Try a quick and easy test.
    You can check one aspect of accessibility using your keyboard and your TAB key. Try using only your TAB key to navigate a site or an online content item. You may find that you cannot access parts of the content, you are unsure where you are in the content, or the order seems illogical. Any of these situations presents an accessibility issue. 

NOTE:  Not all textbook publisher materials and services are accessible.  Before using a file or online service in your online course, please ensure it is fully accessible.  For assistance with this, please submit an accessibility consultation request.

What's Next?

You've found great content but it is not accessible. What are your options?

  1. Request an accessible version from the content copyright owner.
  2. Find an alternative that meets accessibility standards. Your UNT subject librarian is an excellent resource for assistance.
  3. Create your own content directly in Canvas that covers the topic.
  4. Contact DSI CLEAR's accessibility team to explore other possibilities. Often, we can suggest accessible alternatives depending on the original content type, its intended use, and other factors.