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Teaching

Creating accessible course shells

Ryerson's learning management system, D2L Brightspace, follows web accessibility standards to ensure its interface is made accessible to users with disabilities and assistive technology. Although it is the responsibility of each course designer or instructor to ensure course content is formatted using best practices for accessibility; including the use of good heading structure, descriptive link text, alternative text and more. Many of these concepts are explained in the Accessible Documents section of this website.

Screenshot of the D2L accessibility checker tool pointing out contrast errors.

Using the D2L accessibility checker

The D2L text editor, found in many tools across Brightspace, features an Accessibility Checker which highlights any accessibility issues with your content, such as: poor heading structure, poor contrast, missing alternative text and more. To run the checker, click the Check Accessibility button in the bottom toolbar of the editor.

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is the design of instructional materials and activities that allow learning goals to be achieved by individuals with wide differences in their abilities to see, hear, speak, move, read, write, understand English, attend, organize, engage, and remember (Ivy Access Initiative, Brown University).

The essential qualities of UDL include valuing each learner’s unique perspectives and accommodating individual differences in learners’ backgrounds, interests, abilities, and experiences.

Most universities favour three best practices in UDL:

  1. Representation: A variety of methods are used to present course content (e.g. lecture, web, text, audio).
  2. Engagement: A variety of teaching methods are used to capture the student’s attention (discussions, reflections, individual projects, and other types of methods or techniques).
  3. Expression: The instructor allows students to demonstrate their knowledge in a variety of ways and is flexible for students who have barriers in expression (e.g. oral presentations for those with reading disabilities).

(Source: Fast Facts for Faculty, Ohio State University)

For more information, please visit Universal Design for Learning and Supporting Your Students.

Learning & Teaching Office at Ryerson

The Learning & Teaching Office (LTO) is the leader in learning and teaching at Ryerson. As the primary support for the teaching community at Ryerson, the LTO fosters a culture of excellence and innovation in teaching, working to continually enhance student learning across the university.

We strongly encourage you to visit the LTO website and view their resources for teaching and learning.