Accessible course design, teaching practices, and learning resources can help you meet the needs of the greatest number of learners. The University of Waterloo describes its commitment to accessibility in the Student Academic Accommodation Guidelines.
Course instructors/faculty members are legally required to accommodate students with disabilities. AccessAbility Services (AAS) can help you understand your obligations, and offer services and resources to help you.
Students requiring accommodations are strongly encouraged to register with AAS, who will work with the student to develop a personalized academic accommodation plan. AAS will also facilitate the provision of academic accommodations in these circumstances.
Providing materials via LEARN or other password protected site
Beyond the legal responsibilities to accommodate students with disabilities described above, course instructors are not legally required to proactively create accessible materials so long as course content is embedded within a LEARN course site or other password-protected site. While it is desirable and recommended to create accessible content where possible, it is not a legal requirement. Course instructors should consider how they will provide accessible alternatives to students that are registered with AccessAbility Services, if they are not posting accessible materials as a general rule.
Providing materials via an open/public website
Materials posted on an open website without a password, such as the University’s website, Open Waterloo, Youtube, Vimeo, and the like must follow the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) legislation for Accessible Websites and Web Content, which is based on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) at Level AA.
Who can help make my course accessible?
Library Course Reserves staff will try where possible to replace print resources with content that is already digitally available, as well as ensure that posted material is both copyright compliant and accessible.
Staff in the Centre for Extended Learning (CEL) and the Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE) can provide guidance in designing learning activities, creating accessible content, and assist with technical issues.
Email email@example.com to connect with an expert from CEL, CTE or the Library.
CEL supports the transcription of audio and video content within courses which use CEL's full course production services. For other courses, transcripts will be developed by AAS, if they are a part of the student’s academic accommodation plan.
How do I create accessible content?
Creating online content that is fully accessible can, depending upon the nature of the content, require effort and specialized knowledge to ensure that learners are unimpeded, however more accessible formats can improve the learning experience for many of your students.
The following resources can help you create accessible course content:
- Brightspace Accessibility Checker (for web pages authored directly in the LEARN editor)
- Accessibility Checklist for MS Word
- Accessibility Checklist for MS PowerPoint
- How to post recording links in LEARN
What about Universal Design for Learning?
Applying the principles of Universal Design (UD) can help account for variability in learners when designing and delivering instruction. Check out the Library's Universal Design for Learning (UDL) modules or CEL's User Experience Design for Learning (UXDL) Honeycomb website for more information.
CEL and CTE staff can also provide guidance in designing more inclusive learning activities and assignments.