Providing multiple means of representation is linked closely with the principles of digital accessibility. Promoting digital accessibility involves eliminating barriers that prevent students from fully accessing digital content, websites, and learning materials. Considering our recent shift to online learning environments, this issue has never been more important. Proactively ensuring digital accessibility is an easy way to provide an efficient and comfortable learning experience for all your students and reduces the need to make individual accommodations. However, it can be difficult to know how to get started. Below, you find resources to learn more about this idea and built-in tools to help guide your practice.
Blackboard Ally is a plugin for Moodle that automatically helps to gauge the accessibility of the materials you provide to students. It provides an accessibility score and offers clear guidance and tips for improving the accessibility of your materials. Common issues are texts that are not tagged for screen readers, texts with low contrast, and images lacking alternative text descriptions.
Ally also automatically creates alternative versions of your files such as braille and audio. This allows students to choose the type of file they want that best suits their needs.
Watch the overview for instructors in this video.
It is important, too, that students are made aware of this tool. Consider showing this video to your students at the beginning of your course, or pinning it on your Moodle page.
Watch the Ally for students in Blackboard Learn here.
Captions are a versatile tool that are necessary for some and beneficial to all learners.
Captions not only make audio content available to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but they also provide all students with another means for accessing the content. This benefits students who are learning English, those who are unfamiliar with vocabulary used, and those who are in a noisy environment or need to have the sound turned off.
Captions can also be used as a transcript which can be searched and used as a study aid. Captions are auto generated if you are using Microsoft Stream.
However, it is important to go back and review the captions for accuracy and edit them if necessary. Watch this guide on adding captions to Panopto or Learn how to add captions to your Stream videos at this link.
This short, interactive course is suitable for all staff in the institution and provides a basic introduction to accessibility concepts and skills. It will cover methods that will help you proactively produce content that avoids accessibility barriers and provides background on the importance of accessibility that focuses on the student experience.
Accessibility Tips: Watch this video from our learning technologists to improve the accessibility of your content.
- The UDL Guidelines are backed up by decades of research. On the CAST website, you can find a comprehensive list of references for each principle.
- UCD University for All Toolkit
“The Toolkit for Inclusive Higher Education Institutions was developed for use in the higher education sector, in response to the need for a whole-institution response to access, participation, and success of under-represented students in higher education…It is offered as a tool to assist universities and colleges to progress mainstreaming and inclusion for all students. The Toolkit offers a strategic institution-wide lens to assess progress, identify opportunities for improvement, and create a bespoke action plan to develop a whole-institution approach to inclusion, where every student feels, welcome, that they belong, and valued.”
This outlines the action steps proposed by the HEA to improve access to higher education for historically marginalized groups. It specifically references the implementation of UDL and other tenets of universal design.