The Alamo Colleges adheres to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Sections 504 and 508 which provides equal access to everyone, especially those with sensory, physical, and/or cognitive impairments. Digital accessibility also allows any learner to perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with content on the Web and contribute to the Web.
Content components in Simple Syllabus allows instructors and template editors to add or edit rich text within the document through a Web-based word processing software. You can choose to create content from scratch or copy and paste from a desktop application such as Microsoft Word.
The following guide highlights various features of the Rich Content Editor (RCE), ensuring your online syllabus remains accessible to students and the public.
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People with low or no vision will use screen readers to "read aloud" text on a Web page and navigate the content based on its heading structure.
If a syllabus is not formatted properly, information on the page can be difficult for screen readers to interpret.
Using proper heading structure serves as directional "signposts" to help screen reader users maneuver through a page and discern the importance and organizational hierarchy of digital material, similar to a table of contents. The screen reader can jump from one heading to the next, allowing the listener to scan the page and navigate to a component that they want to review.
White or negative space surrounding headers also reduces eye fatigue and aids in comprehension.
In Simple Syllabus, Heading 1 has been reserved for the syllabus header, and Heading 2 for the title of each component. Using Headings 3 and 4 allow you to section important information within your components further.
Heading levels should never be skipped; always start with Heading 3 when organizing content within components.
Applying headings in Simple Syllabus can be done in one of two ways from the Paragraph Format menu:
- If you're typing a header into the component, place your cursor on a blank line and select the appropriate header level from the drop-down menu. Input your text and hit "Enter" to resume using the default Normal paragraph style.
- If your text is already entered, highlight it with your cursor and select the appropriate header level from the drop-down menu.
Keeping in mind that screen readers read aloud the text on a Web page, links should be self-described with no long URLs.
When sharing links, use a meaningful descriptor to give a sense of what the link is about.
Avoid using non-informative phrases like CLICK HERE. Instead, describe the action the user will take (or destination) when they select the link.
Use the Insert Link tool to provide intelligible hyperlinks. To begin, "copy" the URL, then place it into the component in one of two ways:
- If you're typing the link into the component, place your cursor in the desired spot and select the Insert Link button from the menu. "Paste" the link into the URL field, then type the meaningful text you would like to show for the link in the Text field.
- If your text is already entered, highlight it with your cursor and select the Insert Link button. "Paste" the link into the URL field.
Screen readers cannot read or interpret images, and when it encounters one on a Web page, it simply states "Graphic." Adding alternative text (also called "alt" text) to an image provides a description of the image that the screen reader can read aloud.
For example: if you include an image of yourself on a syllabus, you could add the following alt text to describe it: A view of Earth from the surface of the moon with the instructor standing casually in the foreground.
If the image does not convey meaning—or is identified/described by surrounding text—you can choose to mark it as decorative and the screen reader will ignore it.
Images with complex information such as a graphic, chart, or illustration may need something more than alt text; one way to accommodate this is to provide a caption or thorough description near the image.
Once you've added an image to a content component using the Insert Image menu, click on the image to bring up the Image Settings menu:
- To add alt text to an image, select the Alternative Text button and enter the description in the available field. Click Update to apply.
- To mark an image as decorative, select the Alternative Text button and enter two double quotation marks [""] in the available field. Click Update to apply.
- To add a caption to an image, select the Image Caption button from the Image Settings menu. A blank text entry field will appear below the image for you to enter an appropriate caption.
Fonts should be simple and minimize distractions.
Simple Syllabus has included a few universal options within the Font Family [A] menu that can be used to maximize legibility:
- Georgia and Times New Roman are serif fonts (ones with feet) and are recommended for print.
- Arial (default), Tahoma, and Verdana are sans serif fonts (ones without feet) and are recommended for the web.
Choose a style and size to maximize on-screen legibility, and limit the number of font families to one or two per document.
Arial 11 pt is the default paragraph style for content components in Simple Syllabus. However, you can format the font style using the Font Family menu as well as its size using the Font Size [B] menu:
- If you're typing content into the component, place your cursor in the desired spot and select the desired font from the Font Family drop-down menu and the desired size from the Font Size menu. Click OK to apply.
- If your text is already entered, highlight it with your cursor and select the desired font from the Font Family drop-down menu and the desired size from the Font Size menu. Click OK to apply.
High contrast colors between text and background should be used to increase readability.
Tools like WebAIM's Color Contrast Checker allows you to plug in the RGB hexadecimal number (or HEX) from a color to see if it meets Web Content Accessibility Standards (WCAG) for contrast ratio:
- Minimum 4.5:1 for normal text (13 pt or smaller)
- Minimum 3:1 for large text (14-17 pt bold, or 18 pt+), graphical objects (e.g., symbols), and user interface components (e.g., table borders)
If you would like to incorporate your college's colors in your syllabus, the following HEX codes can be applied to your Text Color and Text Background options:
||HEX Number||Foreground Color Contrast Ratio
on White Background
|Background Color Contrast Ratio
with Black or White Text
|NLC green||#66bc29||2.38:1 (not recommended for use)||8.79:1 with black text|
||9.77:1 with white text|
|PAC teal||#009383||3.81:1 (recommended for large text, symbols, and table borders only)||
5.5:1 with black text or 3.81:1 with white text
|SPC navy||#002596||12.31:1||12.31:1 with white text|
||5.49:1||5.49:1 with white text|
Do not use color alone to convey emphasis; a user with color blindness may not be able to decipher important items marked in red from optional items marked in green.
In Simple Syllabus, black text on a white background has been set as default color settings to meet WCAG standards. However, you have options to change these within the Text Color [A] and Text Background [B] menus of the RCE.
- If you're typing content into the component, place your cursor in the desired spot and select the desired color(s) from the respective Text Color/Background drop-down menus. Use the HEX Color field to apply a specific color. Click OK to apply.
- If your text is already entered, highlight it with your cursor and select the desired color(s) from the respective Text Color/Background drop-down menus. Use the HEX Color field to apply a specific color. Click OK to apply.
Media should have equivalent alternatives for students with hearing or visual impairments.
If you insert audio or video files into your syllabus using the Insert Video option:
- Audio files must have a written transcript.
- Videos must have a written transcript or closed captioning available within the video player itself.
Simple Syllabus allows you to insert media into a syllabus in three ways. To begin, place your cursor in the desired spot and select the Insert Video button.
- By URL: Intended for use with public streaming platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo only. Copy/paste the URL of the video into the Paste in the video URL field, and select the "Autoplay" option if you wish the video start once a user navigates/scrolls to that component where it's embedded. Click Insert when finished.
- Upload Video: Intended for MP4 file uploads such as ones you create in Zoom recordings. Use your cursor to select the file from your device and "drop" it into the Drop video field, or click into the field to browse for the item on your device. Click Insert when finished.
Tables should be used to organize text data only. Data cells should be associated with their appropriate headers, enabling learners to navigate and understand the data.
Users can quickly create complex tables within Simple Syllabus using the Insert Table menu of the RCE. Additional table settings can be applied such as shading, merging cells, modifying borders, determining length, and more.
All tables should be set up as text and not embedded as images. In other words: do not embed a screen capture of a table.
Once you've configured the number of rows and columns from the Insert Table menu, click into any cell to bring up the Table Settings menu.
- Table Header: Select to add a header row to the table. This will insert a new, blank row above the first row of data for you to enter titles for each column.
- Table Style: Select one or more options to apply stylized borders and/or alternate rows to increase the table's readability.
Use the Class Scheduler tool to import Canvas assignments, due dates, and point values into the Schedule component of your syllabus.
The last step you should take before publishing your syllabus or template is to proofread the document to ensure it is free of errors.
Verify the following items before the first part-of-term starts:
- Department Information - Does it reflect current contact information for your area?
- College Priorities and College Policies - Is the information current, and have you validated all hyperlinks? Are department/program acronyms spelled out at least once before being referenced again? (For instance: "The Academic Support Center (ASC) provides students with ... .")
- Instructor Information - Have office hours been updated for the current term?
- Materials - Is the correct edition listed for the textbook? Should you include other necessary items the student will need to complete course work such as a calculator, Blue Book, etc.?
- Evaluation - Do you need to alter how a student's final grade will be calculated based on the term's length or added/omitted assignments?
- Course Policies - Does it include information pertinent to the current term or the course's instructional method? (For instance: online courses may have technical requirements not needed for face-to-face classes.)
- Schedule - Has the timeline for lectures, activities, and assignments been updated for the part-of-term the course will take place? And have you "hidden" the Schedule component you do not plan to use?