Session 6: Accessibility and Inclusive Design (July 2023 Cohort)

Key Links:


Accessibility is often thought about as just being for students with disabilities, but as we see it, accessibility benefits all. It’s about reframing accessibility as a proactive approach to designing inclusive teaching resources and experiences which are rooted in principles of care, humility, and social justice. Inclusive design, or the practice of inclusivity, is the belief that the design of a “thing” – whether it is a piece of technology, an activity, or even information itself – should be mindful of a broad range of users, their variable abilities, their variety of environments, situations, and contexts.

Access is one of the fundamental principles of the open movement broadly. Given OERs’ digital-first nature, this is all the more relevant as resources should not only conform to web accessibility standards, but they should also be designed with the human users in mind. In this way. we will think of web accessibility, content accessibility, and even how this can extend into the accessibility of your human teaching interactions.

While no teaching technique or practice will ever be universally accessible for all, an inclusive education lens can be integrated into any and all approaches as long as you think about accessibility as an ongoing process that has you repeatedly cycle through the following three stages:

(1) Anticipating barriers and (2) finding ways to mediate these barriers (3) to enhance access for all.

We looked at concrete examples for all three of accessibility dimensions in session, namely:

  1. Technical Dimension:

  2. BCcampus Accessibility Toolkit as a guide to help non-technical users make content accessible, including images, links, tables, multimedia, formulas, font size.

  3. Building a Medical Terminology Foundation We looked at Chapter 6 to see how alt. text for images and image descriptions are presented.

  4. Accessibility Assessment To communicate to your users the results of an assessment undertaken towards the end of completing an OER.

  5. Content dimension:

  6. Introduction to LGBTQ+ Studies chapter 5 communicates outcomes and aligns the Iearning activities with the written content. As you will clearly see, the content Is informed by different social and cultural perspectives.

  7. Human dimension:

  8. Building Democracy for All The introduction to this text will show you how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles have informed its design and Active Learning opportunities were incorporated to further engage the learners in unique ways.

  9. Students and instructor users in the course/material/program evaluation and development processes, e.g. through adoption and user feedback surveys.

For some of you, this might be the first time you’re hearing about these concepts and considering them this deeply. It takes time to develop these skills, and it is a practice.

There is no expectation that you will immediately incorporate everything described here with the resources we shared. Check with your grant organiser if and what accessibility stipulations are to help you focus and put a plan in place how you will meet the requirements. With forethought and flexibility, accessibility is built into the process of publishing. Try not to be overwhelmed. Take small steps because these small steps will go a long way. And remember you are uniting your efforts with other people within your teams, within this cohort, within your institutions or beyond. If everyone chips away at a small task, you’ll bring the resource leaps ahead. Ultimately, it’s about giving your resource the best chance to make an impact and difference for people.

Homework Activity

Please continue your team conversations around the accessible and inclusive design of your OER and work through the session activities [in handout linked above] when convenient.

To let each other know of the progress you are making as you are working through the tasks of the week, post your reply to Session 6: Accessibility and Inclusive Design thread in the Discussion Forum prior to our next session:

  • What activities have you managed to complete?
  • What resources have you found that guide your work?
  • What challenges have you faced and what solutions have you found to address those?

Leave a few thoughts around the outcomes for Session 7: Content Creation [Read the initial 5 slides].

  • What excites you,
  • Would you like to know more or have questions about?