Making Your Course Accessible

When designing a course, it is important for professors to think through how they can create a more accessible course that enables all students to engage with the materials and be successful. Please review the various resources in this section about how to design an accessible course and create accessible course materials. If you have any questions or would like to suggest some resources, please contact learning.support.services@villanova.edu.

How to Design an Accessible Course

The motivation to create an accessible course stems from a larger understanding of the importance of creating an accessible environment, which is accomplished through Universal Design. By definition, Universal Design is "the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”  The term “Universal Design” is borrowed from the movement in architecture and product development that calls for curb cuts, automatic doors, video captioning, speakerphones, and other features to accommodate a vast variety of users, including those with disabilities. Experience shows that everyone benefits from Universal Design features. When designers apply UD principles, their products and environments meet the needs of potential users with a variety of characteristics. Disability is just one of many characteristics that an individual might possess.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for designing educational environments that enable all learners to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. This is accomplished by simultaneously reducing barriers to the curriculum and providing rich supports for learning. Employing UD principles in everything we do makes a more accessible world for all of us. It minimizes the need to alter it for anyone. Explore Universal Design in Higher Education: Promising Practices for more information about how Universal Design has been put into practice. To learn how to create an accessible course using the Universal Design Principles, check out Washington University’s Do-IT Program and CAST’s UDL Guidelines.

Creating Accessible Materials

The responsibility of providing accessible course materials and tests online for students can be both challenging and time consuming for faculty members.  Producing documents that are fully accessible from the start will save you work and time if a newly enrolled student uses specialized technology for equal access. 

Review UNIT’s resources for making Blackboard Accessible.

How to create accessible documents, PDFs, and PowerPoints

Additional Resources on Accessible Course Materials

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Email: learning.support.services@villanova.edu

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