Making Programming Labs Accessible

Creating a programming lab that is accessible to blind students is a complex task, and requires a certain amount of specialized knowledge. In order to aid in this process, we have identified several characteristics of a programming lab that can play a role in accessibility. These characteristics have been documented as a set of standards, and used to create a rubric for assessing whether a programming lab will be accessible to a blind student. The rubric is designed to be useful for two separate purposes:

Many of the standards listed here also apply to computer-related activities (other than programming) that a student may be asked to perform. For example, the student may be asked to create a document using Microsoft Word, or to create a web site using Dreamweaver. Standards such as keyboard accessibility and providing detailed instructions which are part of the programming lab rubric, will also play a role in the accessibility of these learning activites. A subset of the standards presented in this rubric can serve as the basis for creating rubrics for assessing other types of computer-related learning activities. For example, a rubric that covers document creation assignments may include many of the standards listed in this document.

It is important to note that the rubric is intended to support our ongoing efforts to provide accessible content to our diverse student body, and to support the development of accessibility plans moving forward. It is not intended as a set of new and additional requirements for determining whether a course meets PCC's existing accessibility standards. In particular, it is possible for an existing course to meet Standard 8 of PCC's Quality Matters Rubric without meeting all the standards listed below (however, some requirements, such as the requirement for accessibly formatted documents, are already a part of our Standard 8 review, and will continue to be required before the course can be recommended for online teaching).

Accessibility Survival Guide for Instructors, © 2014 by their respective authors, Marc Goodman, Gayathri Iyer, Supada Amornchat, Karen Sorensen, and Susan Watson