AAEEBL Digital Ethics Principles: version 1

Principle 9: Accessibility

All ePortfolio platforms and pedagogy should be thoroughly vetted for accessibility according to the standards identified by one’s culture, government, or profession. 

ABSTRACT: ePortfolio platforms should be accessible to diverse creators as well as diverse audiences. Stakeholders should test platforms for accessibility, and educators and students should be educated about accessible content creation.

Strategies for applying this principle include...

  • Recognizing that technologies are not always designed with all students in mind, and accessible platforms benefit all users.
  • Recognizing that it isn’t enough to rely upon a particular software company’s assertions regarding accessibility. Decision-makers and other stakeholders should test accessibility prior to purchase or deployment of any ePortfolio platform. This can be done in cooperation with institutional partners, e.g. the Office of Inclusion and Disability (or similar) and affected students and staff.
  • Including training so that educators, administrators, and staff understand accessibility standards when selecting ePortfolio tools and creating content.
  • Preparing students to practice accessible design for diverse ePortfolio viewers.


Scenario #1:

You are a student participating in an internship as part of your work-integrated learning requirement in your Hospitality Management program. Your position as sous-chef in your favorite restaurant in town gives you rich learning opportunities, and you want to document these experiences not just in text but also in multimedia content. Your internship mentor is okay with you taking photos and video of the kitchen and your work to share in your portfolio.

During one of the introductory sessions to the ePortfolio work for your internship, you learned about creating accessible content so that people with differing abilities can read your portfolio and comment on it. Therefore, when you upload photos of the dishes you created, you provide appropriate alternative text descriptions that screen readers can access. When you use video to take viewers through the process of creating a dish or reflecting on a task, you make a transcript or summary available as text that you place next to the video. While this adds work to your portfolio creation process, it also helps you think about your audience, how your portfolio is viewed, and how you can express your ideas and reflections in an effective and concise manner.

Scenario #2:

You are an educator. Your institution is finalizing its ePortfolio choices. As a member of the selection committee, you are tasked with verifying that each platform is compliant with the accessibility standards adopted by your institution. In this role, you collaborate with any units that work with students with disabilities to involve them in testing, asking them to provide a representative for the team that makes decisions. 

As part of the vetting process, you also ask the vendor for a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) that shows which accessibility accommodations they have created and which are on the roadmap. Furthermore, the committee hires student assistants working in a Disability Programs and Resource Center to take part in the testing process.

This way, the committee strategically and intentionally assesses each platform in regards to accessibility. 

Scenario #3:

You are a program administrator and/or staff member. Your department has just started an undergraduate ePortfolio requirement. You have vetted potential platforms to ensure they fit your ePortfolio program’s purpose and are accessible to students across devices (including assistive technologies). You are now ready to introduce the requirement to educators and start adapting the curriculum.

As you plan the professional development sessions that will roll-out this new requirement, you are careful to make space to share technical knowledge. You ensure that educators get to know the platform and how the platform can adjust for students with disabilities or different device preferences. You also talk to educators about accessible ePortfolio design. You include topics from the Web Accessibility Initiative WCAG2.1 resource, such as alternative text, meaningful sequence of content, and accessible design principles (non-text contrast, spacing, etc.). You have educators practice viewing example ePortfolios on multiple devices and with a screen reader. You then provide educators with local and online resources. You plan to review platform accessibility in your ePortfolio professional development workshop each year. 


    1. Giorgini, F. (2010). An interoperable ePortfolio tool for all. In M. Wolpers, P. A. Kirschner, M. Scheffel, S. Lindstaedt, & V. Dimitrova (Eds.), Sustaining TEL: From innovation to learning and practice (pp. 500–505). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-16020-2_44
    2. Lee, H., & Templeton, R. (2008). Ensuring equal access to technology: Providing assistive technology for students with disabilities. Theory Into Practice, 47(3), 212–219.
    3. Oswal, S. K. (2013). Accessible ePortfolios for visually-impaired users: Interfaces, designs, and infrastructures. In K. V. Wills & R. Rice (Eds.), ePortfolio performance support Systems: Constructing, presenting, and assessing portfolios (pp. 135–153). WAC Clearinghouse. 
    4. Seymour ∗, W., & Lupton, D. (2004). Holding the line online: Exploring wired relationships for people with disabilities. Disability & Society, 19(4), 291–305. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687590410001689421
    5. W3C. (n.d.). Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.

This document was created by the AAEEBL Digital Ethics Task Force: Amy Cicchino (Auburn University), Megan Haskins (Auburn University), Megan Crowley-Watson (Edward Waters College), Elaine Gray (Appalachian State University), Morgan Gresham (University of South Florida), Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst, New Zealand), Kevin Kelly (San Francisco State University), Megan Mize (Old Dominion University), Christine Slade (University of Queensland), Heather Stuart (Auburn University), and Sarah Zurhellen (Appalachian State University)

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