Tips for Accessible Course Design

It is estimated that between 20-25% of students at the University have some form of visible or invisible disability (University of Canterbury, 2022). Given the number of students living with disabilities, it is essential that we create inclusive and accessible spaces at UC. One of the ways this could be done, is to focus on creating an accessible online space.  

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a longstanding framework for proactively designing accessible instructional materials across all learning environments (CAST, 2018). UDL, also known as design for all or inclusive design, consists of three guiding principles:  

  1. multiple means of presentation 
  2. action and expression, and  
  3. representation (CAST, 2018).  

These principles encourage academics to use accessible materials, delivery methods, and assessment strategies from the outset of the course. Below are a few tips you can use to make your AKO | LEARN site more inclusive and accessible to students: 

  • Have a clear, consistent and logical AKO | LEARN course layout. This includes following a consistent weekly or topic layout that will be easy for students to follow.  
  • Put key information in an easily accessible location, e.g., create a section for assessment information and assessment.  
  • Create accessible Word documents, PowerPoints and PDFs. Scanned documents cannot be processed by screen readers. Contact the library for support.   
  • Use descriptive hyperlinks when linking to a resource and avoid click here, More and Read more or adding the full hyperlink. E.g., AKO | LEARN vs. https://learn.canterbury.ac.nz/my/  
  • Use headings/paragraphs style available in AKO | LEARN. Headings allow readers to browse content by topical groups and provides context for users working through lengthy content. 

References: 

CAST. (2018). The UDL Guidelines. Retrieved from CAST: https://udlguidelines.cast.org/ 

Inclusive and Accessible Course Design. (2022). Retrieved from Victoria University of Wellington | Te Herenga Waka: https://learning.vicinnovate.ac.nz/accessible-course-design.html 

University of Canterbury. (2022). Te Ratonga Whaikaha|Student Accessibility Service. Retrieved from University of Canterbury: https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/accessibility/# 

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