What is Instructional Accessibility?

Instructional Accessibility refers to the design of educational environments, materials, activities and assessments that are accessible to all learners, regardless of their abilities, disabilities, or learning preferences. Instructional Accessibility includes ensuring that teaching materials, instructional strategies, classroom activities and technologies used in the classroom are designed with accessibility in mind.

Digital Accessibility is closely related to instructional accessibility as many educational materials are now delivered through digital platforms such as learning management systems, online course modules, or e-books. Ensuring Digital Accessibility involves making sure that digital resources and technologies used in the classroom are designed in a way that accommodates the needs of all students, including those with disabilities. This could involve using captioning or transcripts for videos, using alt-text for images, ensuring compatibility with assistive technologies, and making sure that online content is navigable and easy to use for everyone. By prioritizing instructional and digital accessibility, educators can ensure that all students have equal access to the activities, materials, and resources they need to access and succeed in their learning experiences.

Benefits of Proactively Prioritizing Digital Accessibility

"Faculty members that create accessible content help me easily go back and understand material. I use assistive technology to read before class so I can engage better in class discussions."

DU Undergraduate Student

"By proactively prioritizing digital accessibility needs, students are most enthusiastic about how much time is saved and how much easier and enjoyable it is to prepare for class."

DU Faculty Member

Why is Instructional Accessibility important?

Instructional Accessibility promotes inclusivity and ensures that all students, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, can participate in the learning process. This helps create an inclusive learning environment that is supportive and welcoming to all students.

Instructional accessibility can enhance progress towards the learning outcomes for all students. By providing a more accessible learning environment and learning materials, educators can improve the learning experience for everyone, regardless of their dis/abilities.

When accessibility considerations are integrated into instructional design and delivery, it can spur innovation in technology and lead to the development of enhanced student experiences that have wider benefits for all. 

Instructional accessibility ensures that students with disabilities have equal access to educational materials and resources, enabling them to participate fully in the educational experience. Proactively planning for accessibility gives students with disabilities access to content at the same time as their peers, not after.

Instructional Accessibility is important because faculty members at private institutions have legal obligations for digital accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. They are responsible for ensuring that digital materials and resources used in their courses are accessible to students with disabilities. Faculty members play a critical role in creating accessible courses and ensuring that all students have equal access to educational materials and resources. If you have further questions, please connect with Accessible DU: Student Disability Services (SDS; formally Disability Services Program (DSP)) at dsp@du.edu regarding student accommodations or the ADA Coordinator at ada.coordinator@du.edu for additional support. 

Explore OTL options to learn more about Instructional Accessibility

OTL Knowledge Base

Want to learn more on your own? Please visit OTL's Ed-Tech Knowledge Base Accessibility Folder. Articles focus on video, document, web, and general accessibility tips.

Instructional Accessibility Trainings

Want to learn with others? Please visit our OTL Events page to learn about upcoming events that focus on instructional accessibility and universal design for learning (UDL).

OTL Accessibility Request

Want to request a specific training for more information on course accessibility? Please fill out the OTL Accessibility Request and an OTL colleague will follow up to schedule.

What other Instructional Accessibility resources?

Cross Campus Partners Addressing Accessibility

A quick guide for faculty regarding digital accessibility and accommodations.

Canvas Accessibility Checklist

Throughout this article, you can find our accessibility checklist for designing, building and teaching in Canvas.

Top 8 Characteristics of an Accessible PDF

This page is intended to guide faculty who want to learn more about the characteristics of accessible PDFs.

How to produce videos that are accessible and improve learning

Learn to produce accessible videos that improve learning via good design and implementation.

How do I make my PowerPoints accessible?

Information about how to identify accessibility issues, how to fix them, and why it is important to do so.

Universal Design Online Inspection Tool (UDOIT) Accessibility

Learn more about the University of Denver's UDOIT Accessibility Course Wide Canvas Checker.

Who can I ask for Accessibility Support?

Instructional Design Support

Just getting started? Get assistance with immediate instructional design concerns or Canvas support from the OTL Instructional Design Team.

Go In Depth on Accessibility

Ready for more in depth innovation? Learn more about proactively incorporating instructional accessibility into all aspects of your teaching.