The Educational Technology Accessibility Review Rubric can be used to evaluate teaching tools for accessibility concerns and considerations. 

Download a version of this rubric here

Accessibility Review Criteria Explained

1. User Experience – Supports Text-to-Speech (TTS)

Screen readers help people with vision loss read content, operate interface elements and widgets, and perform other computer tasks by hearing, rather than by seeing. Screen readers interact with information built into websites, documents, applications, operating systems, and other technologies, and present the information using synthesized voice (TTS) technology.  

Examples of common screen readers include:

  • JAWS: created and distributed through Freedom Scientific
  • NVDA: A free, open-source tool made available through the non-profit NVAccess
  • VoiceOver: integrated into MacOS and iOS
  • Kurzweil: DU Purchased Software (Faculty and Student Access)

2. User Experience – Supports Speech-to-Text for Input (STT)

Speech recognition products let users with limited dexterity or mobility operate technology by issuing voice commands and dictation. Speech recognition tools can also be used to navigate a page. 

Examples of Speech Recognition products include:

  • Dragon Naturally Speaking – Windows Compatible
  • Windows Speech Recognition
  • iOS Speech Recognition/Siri

Note: Some captioning tools, such as YouTube and Kaltura, have speech recognition components.

3. User Experience – Supports Alternative Input Experience/Keyboard Navigation

Depending on a person’s disabilities, it can be difficult to accurately point with a computer mouse or tap on a small mobile screen at a precise location. This may be because a user has visual disabilities and cannot see details on the screen or has mobility issues affecting the use of their hands. Alternative input devices allow these users to still interact with a computer or mobile device effectively.

Alternative input devices include:

  • Using a keyboard to enter information (most common)
  • Alternative keyboard designs
  • Joy sticks
  • A device controlled by eye movements

Note: Although these alternate inputs work for many users, many technical systems still present barriers by requiring users to navigate and activate features by using a mouse. Software, websites, and other technology should be tailored to recognize alternate keyboard style input as well as clicks or taps. The Navigation of the site should be relatively. 

4. User Experience – Supports Screen Magnification/High Contrast

Users with limited vision can use screen magnifiers to magnify their display, making it easier to manage input and output tasks.  Screen magnifiers can be software or hardware-based, may magnify all or part of a screen, and may be integrated or add-on tools.

High-contrast display settings provide users with a higher degree of contrast between background and foreground elements, such as text on an online page. WCAG 2.0 level AA requires a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text. Level AAA requires a contrast ratio of 7:1 for normal text and 4.5:1 for large text. Large text is defined as 14 point (typically 18.66px) and bold or larger, or 18 point (typically 24px) or larger. 

Screen magnification is often used in conjunction with a high-contrast display to optimize a display for a person with low vision.

Your operating system is likely to include both magnification and high-contrast display as part of its accessibility settings. Examples of third-party screen magnifiers include:

5. Dedication to Accessibility – Content Creator Experience 

The easiest way to start with your evaluation is to look for an Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) which is a completed Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) for the digital tool or application. The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a rubric which evaluates how accessible a particular product is according to Section 508 or other the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WGAG). It is a self-disclosing document produced by the vendor which details each aspect of the Section 508 requirements and how the product supports each criteria.

VPATs are used by buyers to determine how accessible a product is and where any potential deficiencies are. They are required by some buyers before a purchase is made. It is important to note to look into the details of VPATs as sometimes they needed to be checked for accuracy.

The official VPAT forms are hosted by the Information Technology Industrial Council and are available in the Microsoft Word format.

The VPAT contains documentation on Section 508 (2017 Update) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (2008) or 2.1 (2018) with Success Criteria & Conformance Requirements (Levels A, AA, AAA). WCAG 2.2 is set to be released December of 2022.