Accessible Educational Materials

Gettysburg College is committed to ensuring that its students have full access to educational opportunities. The following list of Best Practices has been created to ensure that the course technologies and materials we expect students to utilize are accessible to for all students, including students with disabilities.

Making educational materials accessible

Students may require accessible reading materials as an accommodation for a disability. Students with learning disabilities utilize text-to-speech apps and software to facilitate reading, and students with visual disabilities may use software that enlarges or reads material aloud. Students who require this accommodation will present you with an Individualized Educational Accommodation Plan that indicates the need for this accommodation. Preparing these materials in an accessible format is convenient for these students as well as others who may require temporary accommodations (i.e. for a concussion).

Course readings and written materials

  1. Written course materials created by instructor (syllabus, assignments, notes, etc.): These documents are generally accessible if they are Word documents or PDFs. Providing these materials electronically in addition to hard copy allows students to manipulate them as needed. 
  2. Textbooks: Students who have the accommodation of Accessible Reading Materials who have already purchased hard copy books are eligible to receive free electronic copies of their textbooks for use with text-to-speech technology. This is coordinated by the Office of Academic Advising and Student Support Services. 
  3. PDFs (articles, book chapters, etc. uploaded by instructor): If you are providing a document for students to read, you are responsible for making sure it is accessible. Follow these instructions to check for accessibility in a PDF and convert the file, if necessary. If you are providing a reading that was scanned from a book, it most likely needs to be converted. If the photocopy is a poor quality scan, contact the library to see about getting a new copy that will be accessible. 
  4. Library Reserves: Reading assignments requested through our Library Reserves process are checked for accessibility by the library staff before they are uploaded to Moodle. 
    1. Please fill in the course information and assignment on the online reserves chapter/article form.
    2.  Handwritten forms cannot be read by the text-to-speech reader.
    3. When requesting readings to be scanned for Moodle, please submit the original book (which will be returned) rather than a photocopied printout. The printout will need to be rescanned which leads to a poor quality image.
    4. Please adhere to copyright guidelines – i.e., limit the reading to approximately 10% of the original text. That is usually about one chapter. Material exceeding that amount requires us to seek copyright permission – which may be denied!
    5. This video explains how to use Labels in Moodle to link to your Library Reserves folder from anywhere in Moodle.

Slide Presentations

  1. Accessible slide presentations need to be able to be modified (increasing font size, for example) and/or compatible with text-to-speech technology. Students who have learning disabilities that require accessible reading materials may not require accessible slide presentations, but students with visual disabilities may.
  2. Power Point Accessibility Tips
  3. Prezi Accessibility Tips
  4. Creating Accessible Presentations Webinar from the Digital Library Federation


  1. If you create your own videos or screencasts, you should add your own captioning. Instructions for captioning videos
  2. Library requests
    1. The library will provide a captioned version of video reserves upon request if required for a student with a disability who requires this accommodation. Be sure to note the need for this on the video reserve form. The captioning will be accomplished one of two ways:
      1. If the hard copy of the video allows for closed captioning, then the closed caption version will be streamed to the course Moodle site. The video will be captioned for the entire class.
      2. If the hard copy of the video does not allow for closed captioning, the library will utilize the Ensemble captioning service to caption the video. The video will be captioned for the entire class.
      3. Hard copies of the videos are available in regular circulation.

Web sites

  1. Institutionally managed instructional technologies (Moodle and Sites) have already been evaluated for accessibility; these technologies themselves are accessible. Users need to pay attention to the site and technologies used on these sites.
  2. Writing Accessible Hyperlinks
  3. Writing Accessible Content

Images and screen captures

  1. Axess Lab
  2. Images and screen captures can be a great way to demonstrate or explain content.. For each image you use, be sure to have a written description of the image so that it can be read by screen readers or text-to-speech technology.
  3. Tips for using images in written content
  4. Tips for choosing images and animations
  5. Tips for making images accessible
  6. Color contrast and accessibility

Choosing educational technologies

Individual faculty members are encouraged to make their own choices about educational technologies. When choosing technologies for use in your classes, we ask that you consider accessibility. 

  1. Look for a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) for each technology.
  2. Look for accessibility settings within the technology
  3. Look for an accessibility statement from the creators of the project
  4. Contact Customer Service to inquire about accessibility
  5. Keep this information so that you can provide it for users upon request
  6. If the technology you choose does not meet accessibility guidelines, you may still utilize it, so long as you have an accessible alternative (which may even be a low-tech or no-tech alternative).


The following individuals can assist with the various tasks associated with the accessibility of your course materials and technologies.

Academic Advising and Student Support Services

Jennifer Cole (Accommodations, textbook requests, Universal Design for Learning, general troubleshooting)

Educational Technology

Sharon Birch (Moodle)

Eric Remy (Instructional Technology)

Information Technology

Stephanie Sanders (Assistive Technology, general troubleshooting)


Lisa McNamee (Reserves)

Natalie Hinton (User Services)