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Student Accommodations When You Don't Know the Student - ePUB to the Rescue

taught by: John Tubbs

co-presented by: Jinhee Choo

Session Summary:

Gies College of Business delivers its unique large scale online MBA degree via a popular Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider. Like many new platforms, the learning management system (LMS) has accessibility concerns. Gies’ eLearning unit has developed accessible and usable course materials but the LMS lacks the delivery features. The Gies team subsequently reimagined a delivery strategy, without dependence on the LMS, for videos, slide text, graphs, charts and equations - all with the requisite extended description, transcription and captioning. The delivery initially was zip’d, clean HTML and subsequently very usable ePUB. This will be the story of that evolution.


In this class the attendees will be taken on a journey from problem to solution…

How can accessible learning content be delivered to students that may or may not identify their accommodation needs - especially with 250,000 learners in the course? This determination of the needed universal design features became the challenge in an education world that is frequently resourced to deal with individual targeted accommodations of face-to-face students. The ultimate question Gies faced was how to create a single document format that would give the power to the learner to consume the learning content on their own terms based on their chosen accommodation strategy and technologies. HTML is the creation environment but ePUB has become the distribution format.

This session will cover the ins/outs of the ePUB document structure developed with the guidance by Knowbility. This structure departs from traditional accessibility rules in favor of creating a document that strives for functional usability. Imagine these examples: an HTML document with hundred’s of slides and no ALT-TEXT, a navigation structure that is not redundant for screenreader users, extended text description that matches audio description inside a video? There’s no rocket science here, just well considered implementation of solid usability practice.

The end goal of this ePUB endeavor is to outfit 50+ MOOCs over the course of three years. That means a scalable workflow must be in place to handle the load. A description of how Gies is beginning to make this happen will be presented with the hope to gain feedback from the amazing attendees at AccessU.

Practical Skills:

Learn how a higher education institution overcame an inaccessible platform with ePUB


Understanding of clean and semantically sound HTML.