Authoring Accessible OER

There are a variety of tools and methodologies for authoring OER. Some tools and methodologies enable you to more successfully create accessible OER and we've provided a list below. Remember to follow guidelines for authoring accessible content so the online content you create is usable by everyone, including those with disabilities. You can find information about authoring accessible content at the CSU Professional Development for Accessible Technology Teaching Commons.

Free Tools for Developing Online Course Content You Can Share

MERLOT logo FLOE, or 'Flexible Learning in Open Education,' Floe provides the resources needed to enable inclusive access to personally relevant, engaging learning opportunities for the full diversity of learners and content producers. Through the Open Education Resources community, Floe makes tools that help transform, augment, and personalize the learning experience. To learn more, review FLOE's PPT.

Pachyderm logo Pachyderm is an easy-to-use multimedia authoring tool that creates web-accessible presentations. Designed for people who have little or no multimedia authoring experience, Pachyderm uses web-based forms and templates to help you organize and present your content: images, video, audio and text. CSU Pachyderm is freely available to CSU Faculty, Staff, and Students to support instruction, research, creative activity, and community service. Pachyderm can produce accessible online learning materials when authors follow accessibility guidelines. The CSU Pachyderm Gallery is a collection of examples of faculty, student, and staff work produced with Pachyderm.

Pachyderm is an open-source project developed by a consortium of higher education institutions and museums.  The CSU's Center for Distributed Learning has provided a variety of development support to the project.

MERLOT logo MERLOT Content Builder - a set of free, web-based tools that are designed for people just beginning to author online content. The MERLOT Content Builder can be used by any registered MERLOT member to create websites using templates for adding text, images, video, documents, links, and more. You can easily send a download your website as an IMS Common Cartridge, send a copy to a friend, add a Creative Commons license, and catalog your website in MERLOT so others can easily find it. The Content Builder can produce accessible online learning materials when authors follow accessibility guidelines. Add as last sentence of MERLOT Content Builder: See MERLOT's VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template)

Connexions logo Connexions Authoring: Connexions is an open source platform and open access repository for open education resources, enabling the creation, sharing, modification, and vetting of open educational material accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime via the World Wide Web. From its inception, Connexions was designed to allow the collaborative development and free availability of material. Instructors and authors can modify this material for any educational purpose. Connexions offers Free/Open Source software tools to help students, instructors, and authors manage these information assets for sharing and advancing knowledge to benefit the global educational community. All of this is accomplished through the use of the Creative Commons Attribution license. Before you begin using the Connexions system, you should verify that you have all of the necessary software. Visit the Connexions Quick Start Guide for a listing of the software that you will need and the links to help you download it. The Connexions authoring environment can produce accessible online learning materials when authors follow accessibility guidelines.

Open Author logoOpen Author: - Open Author provided by OER Commons provides a place where educators can build and share high-quality open educational resources (OER), such as courses, units, lessons, activities and presentations, to meet teaching and learning needs around the globe. Open Author resources may be exported in a variety of formats for use in a course management system (CMS) or for presentations, and they may be printed for easy reference. Open Author can produce accessible online learning materials when authors follow accessibility guidelines.

Commercial Tools for Developing Online Course Content You Can Share

Softchalk logo SoftChalk – a commercially available authoring tool for easy content creation that can be used by any level of developer to create online learning materials. SoftChalk can easily produce accessible materials that comply with section 508 requirements. Developers can produce a learning material in SoftChalk via an integrated SoftChalk/MERLOT interface, and can directly catalog it in the MERLOT repository. SoftChalk provides special pricing programs for the CSU because of its leadership of MERLOT. Learn more about SoftChalk discounts and services for MERLOT partners.

SoftChalk is dedicated to making our tool as barrier-free as possible for all students. Click for more information on SoftChalk’s accessibility strategy.

Soomo Logo The Soomo Learning Environment is the easiest way to create an interactive course and track student progress. Our platform makes it simple to combine resources (ebooks, websites, OER, articles) into a single, easy-to-navigate course. Standalone or integrated with your LMS, your course will be highly accessible and will look fantastic. Students subscribe for $25 and there is no cost to instructors or schools.

Analytics track student participation in questions, polls, discussion boards, and other means of response. One click gives you the details on any student's work including time-on-task, score, and number of attempts. See who’s learning what and which resources are educating best. Best of all, our support team will help you build your course: copyediting, licensing, adding illustrations and photos, keeping tabs on your links to make sure they're still working, student tech support, and more. Real humans handling the tech so you can focus on teaching.

Soomo Publishing is dedicated to making our content as barrier-free as possible for all students. For more information on this title’s accessibility, see the CIA VPAT(pdf).

Using Creative Commons

Creative Commons provides a methodology for authors to provide users of their content with the legal permissions to use that content in specific, pre-approved ways that:

  • encourage authors of online materials to share their work with others who might wish to reuse the materials in creative ways
  • ensure that contributions of online materials by authors to their community are protected from misuse and abuse.

To learn more about using Creative Commons, watch the MERLOT and Creative Commons video on YouTube.