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Teaching and Course Design


Accessible Teaching Guidelines

  • Build in options, flexibility, and feedback opportunities
  • Build in redundancy: repeat important information/content and communicate it in multiple ways
  • Universal Design for Learning principles advocate for:
    • Multiple means of engagement, to tap into learners’ interests and increase motivation
    • Multiple means of representation, to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge
    • Multiple means of action and expression, to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know
    • See: Jay Dolmage, Universal Design: Places to Start

In presenting the syllabus to the class, acknowledge disability accommodations and the role of the Center for Disability and Access.

Along with the institutional disability accommodations statement, you may provide your own access statement.

Access Statement Examples:

“I am committed to making this course as flexible and accessible as possible. If you are finding some aspect of the course inaccessible, please let me know, and we can discuss possible alternatives. You are also encouraged to let me know if any circumstances affect your participation in the course or your ability to keep up with coursework. You do not need to share private information unless you choose to; we will focus on alternative arrangements and adjustments as needed.”
(Angela M. Smith)





“I assume that all of us learn in different ways, and that the organization of any course will accommodate each student differently. For example, you may prefer to process information by speaking and listening, so that some of the written handouts I provide may be difficult to absorb. Please talk to me as soon as you can about your individual learning needs and how this course can best accommodate them. If you do not have a documented disability, remember that other support services, including the Writing Center and the Learning Resources Center, are available to all students."

(Margaret Price, cited in Wood and Madden)


  • Make expectations/norms explicit in conversations/communications about
    • how information will be shared
    • expectations around attendance/presence
    • what constitutes discussion and participation (e.g., valuing not just new ideas but also thoughtful paraphrasing)
    • use of devices
  • Consider having a class discussion about collective access and creating a collective policy for the course around access and the course or classroom environment

  • Create ways for students who miss class or who struggle with verbal participation to receive content and demonstrate their learning.
    • Collective notetaking
    • Online posting of class materials
    • Online discussion boards for posts by absent students; online tasks to complete in lieu of attending/speaking in class.
    • Options for remote access to class sessions
  • Allow students to use the devices that work best for them to read class materials or take notes.

  • Request feedback about students’ learning process via impromptu writes, emails individual conferences, online chat spaces, letters.Incorporate feedback and self-reflection into assignments
  • Provide feedback: Communicate to students how they are doing in assignments, participation, and classroom interactions; redesign aspects of course where many students are not meeting expectations. 

  • Offer assignments in varied modes: digital formats, creative exercises, collaborative exam design, etc.
    • Options for written papers, but also podcasts, recorded video or PowerPoint presentations, creative options with reflective/written elements
    • Varied presentation options (in-person, video recording, audio recording, recorded PowerPoint)
  • Share models of successful work
  • Provide clear and generous extension policies
  • Drop the lowest scores in some kinds of assignments
  • Scaffold assignments; provide options for practice and review 


  • Use OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to turn image-based PDFs into text
  • **Be aware that it’s best to have PDFs that are text-based from the beginning, from online sources such as journals or e-books

Word Documents
(e.g. handouts, lectures)

Use headings (not just bold/underline, but the “Headings” function under “Styles”) to provide a structure that allows people using screen readers to skip to relevant parts of the document.

Provide alt-text or captions for images. (To add alt-text, right-click the image and choose “Edit Alt Text”)

PowerPoints/Visual Media:

  • Provide clear, uncluttered, large-font slides
  • Provide verbal descriptions/read aloud in class
  • Provide text (captions or alt-text) for images
  • Play/assign videos with captions

Alternative Formats:

  • Be aware of the option on Canvas to turn documents into audio files and other formats
  • Be prepared to convert documents to formats that work better for students’ needs
  • Post materials online, record/Zoom in-person classes, etc.



Digital Learning Technologies

Digital Learning Technologies, formerly known as Teaching & Learning Technologies (TLT), provides teaching technology tools to the University and supports faculty, students, and staff in the use of these tools in the online and physical learning space. We have specialty teams for Audio-Visual Technology, Course Development, Canvas Support, Video Production, and Exam Services, which are dedicated to offering the highest quality of customer service.


Digital Learning Technologies services include:

  A/V Installation and Maintenance

  A/V Equipment Checkout

  Canvas Support

  Exam Services and Scheduling

  Instructional Design

  Event & Video Production

visit the digital learning site for more information



Video Resource: Teaching for All

Martha Bradley Evans Center for Teaching Excellence Workshop

Teaching for All: Accommodating Learners with Disability and Chronic Medical Conditions

September 13, 2022

Transcript for Teaching for All Panel





Last Updated: 8/8/23