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Building Accessible Course Material

Accessible course materials are materials that can be accessed by a wide variety of learners. It is important to note that it is not just students with disabilities who benefit from accessible course materials. All students can potentially benefit from them.

While Accessible Course Materials are not exclusively digital, we are often able to use digital tools to achieve accessibility when we create or adapt learning materials. 

There are many ways you can increase the accessibility of your course materials. Here are a few examples to get you started. There are many more examples and guidance provided in the resources found on this page.

  • Providing a transcript or script to accompany video or audio based learning materials.
  • Ensuring that your text based materials are readable by screen readers.
  • Creating digital or printed materials with sufficient colour contrast.

How do I build Accessible Course Materials?

The University of Minnesota has identified 7 Core Skills you can start with to make your digital course materials more accessible. They include

  • Alternative text
  • Contrast
  • Headings
  • Links
  • Lists
  • Tables
  • Video and audio

The book “Designing for All: A Toolkit for Maximum Digital Impact.” was created by the CIEL and shows you how these 7 Core Skills can be applied to when creating content in VIULearn, VIUTube and VIUBlogs.

You can find guidance for creating accessible resources in programs such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel by accessing the The National Centre on Disability and Access to Education’s (NCDAE) one-page cheat sheets. 

Universal Design for Learning: A Framework for Accessible Course Design

Providing Accessible Course Materials is an excellent way to make your content more accessible to all learners. You can also go further and make other elements of your course more accessible by using the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Framework.

Designed by CAST, the UDLframework “guides the design of instructional goals, assessments, methods, and materials that can be customized and adjusted to meet individual needs.” (CAST)

The UDL framework includes three sets of guidelines for course design. They are Multiple Means of Engagement, Multiple Means of Representation and Multiple Means of  Action & Expression. 

Watch the video below for a quick overview of UDL.

CAST has created a comprehensive graphic organizer which includes the stages and goals of each of the guidelines. You can learn more about how this graphic organizer works by watching the UDL Guidelines Structure video produced by CAST.

We have included some additional resources related to UDL in the resource section of this page. If you would like to learn more about how to use UDL as a course design model, please feel free to contact us to book a consultation.


Accessible Learning Materials


Book a consultation

CIEL specialists are available to discuss more deeply how to create and use accessible course materials. If you have questions, and would like to chat further, please contact