Ensure ANGEL Course Content is Accessible

Ensuring that ANGEL course content is accessible to persons with disabilities is an important responsibility of instructors.

Individuals with various disabilities, including blindness, low vision, hearing impairments, deafness, learning disorders, or cognitive disorders, experience a number of obstacles if web content is inaccessible. Many of these obstacles can be removed by taking steps to improve the accessibility of web content, including ANGEL course content.

A website is accessible when it can be understood by everyone, regardless of what browser or adaptive equipment an individual may be using.

Because the ANGEL course management system is a web tool, you may not have all the ability to manipulate accessibility features that you would in your own website. However, following are some steps you can take to make your ANGEL content more accessible.

Display Options

  • Users who use a screen reader or those with severe low vision may want to:
    • Switch their display option to PDA mode. This puts ANGEL into a frames-free text-only mode and enlarges the text.

      To switch to PDA mode, click the PDA icon at lower left of the screen. You can also switch to PDA mode by selecting the Accessible View link in the top portion of the My Profile screen.

      Screen Capture. Display mode, PDA mode highlighted.
      Click the PDA icon.

    • Customize the ANGEL display according to their needs by using the Accessibility Menu, accessed by clicking the 508 icon in the lower left.

      Screen Capture. Display Mode, 508 icon highlighted.
      Click the 508 icon.

      For details, reference the following help topics:

      • Create a Profile to Display ANGEL in an Accessible Manner
      • Upload a Profile to Display ANGEL in an Accessible Manner
      • Link to a Style Sheet (CSS) on the Web to Display ANGEL in an Accessible Manner
  • Users with severe low vision should use the browser zoom features. The option to zoom font sizes is found in the View menu of most browsers. In Internet Explorer 7 or 8, click Page, then select Zoom.

    Note: Browsers with the best zooming capabilities include Internet Explorer 7 or 8, Firefox, Safari, and Opera.

  • Users who are colorblind or who need slightly larger font sizes may wish to view all their pages in an accessible ANGEL theme. To change the theme, log on, click the Preferences icon in the navigation menu on the left, then select the Theme Selector link. Some themes which have been developed for accessibility purposes include:
    • Large Text: Default text size is set higher for most text.
    • Black and White: Uses black text with a white background for highest contrast.
    • High Contrast - Black: Reverses colors so that background is dark and the text is light. Preferred by some low vision users.

    Select the desired theme, then click the Apply button.

    Note: Users can check the always use this theme check box on the theme selector screen to override custom themes from a course.

HTML Editor

The ANGEL HTML editor can be used to add formatting to HTML pages. Some tools that will assist users with different accessibility issues are:

  • Page titles should be formatted with the Heading 1 option under the Format button. This helps users with screen readers quickly identify the page title.
  • Main section headings should be formatted with the Heading 2 option under the Format button. This helps users with screen readers quickly scan and name major sections of the page. Use the Heading 3 option for subsection headings.
  • When inserting images, remember to fill in the Alternative Text field in the Image Properties window. This is the text that will be read aloud by a screen reader. See the HTML Editor: Insert an Image help topic for more details.
  • Make sure color schemes have enough contrasts between light and dark. See the website http://accessibility.psu.edu/contrast for more details on color schemes.
  • If you copy formatted text from Microsoft Word, use the Paste from Word tool accessed by clicking the down arrow next to the Paste button to clean the Word HTML code, then reformat the page.
  • You can click the Source button to display the HTML code if you wish to hand-edit it for accessibility purposes.

All files uploaded into ANGEL should be made accessible. Accessibility accommodations can include:

  • Images and charts embedded within Word, PowerPoint, or other document files should include a caption for each image which adequately describes the content to a user with a screen reader.
  • Word files should use the Heading 1 style for page titles, the Heading 2 style for main sections and the Heading 3 style for subsections. All these options can be found in the Styles menu. These options assist users of screen readers scan the contents of large documents.
  • PowerPoint files should be designed with optimal color contrast.
  • Excel charts should be designed with optimal contrast and so that they can be read in black and white. You can use the formatting options in the Chart Wizard to change the line colors and change some solid lines to dashed lines.

Note: These are just a sample of common accommodations needed. Depending on the needs of a student, other accommodations may be requested via the Penn State Office for Disability Services (http://www.equity.psu.edu/ods/).


The following options are designed to assist learners with certain disabilities complete assessments more easily.

  • When creating multiple choice questions in ANGEL, select the Answer labels format of Alpha list or No Labels (choices listed with radio buttons option) instead of Drop-down List. Drop-down lists present more accessibility issues for users with mobility impairment, screen readers, or certain cognitive disabilities.
  • Add text description for all uploaded images sufficient to answer the question. For example, if your assessment is a picture identification assessment for native flowers, then the description should include information about flower color, size, number of petals, or other relevant information.
  • Students with learning or physical disabilities may not be able to complete timed assessments within the given time frame. If these students are registered with the Penn State Office for Disability Services (http://www.equity.psu.edu/ods/), they are permitted to request accommodation for timed assessments and assignments.

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