Student viewing electronic device with earbuds in an outdoor setting

Instructional Resources for Academic Accessibility

In the move to online instruction, along with the anticipation of an unconventional face-to-face classroom environment, it is easy to become overwhelmed and confused as to the best strategies to follow when preparing course content and setting student expectations. Following best practices for accessible course materials, as well as incorporating Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles, will lead towards a more flexible and accessible environment for your course and promote increased engagement by all students.

Guidance towards the creation of more universally accessible materials is available via the following resources. There are many resources offered on this page! Take a deep breath and know that creating accessible content is a journey that is taken one step at a time. Focus on one thing - master that, then focus on another.

For more information, refer to UVA Teaching Continuity guidance or contact the instructional contacts/design teams in your school.

A Top Tip: 

I'm listening to my instructor, I'm listening to my instructor, I'm listen..... ohh there goes a chicken!

Distraction is more possible - and probable - than usual during this time. Understand your students will be participating in your class while experiencing a variety of circumstances and using a variety of devices.

Offering a transcript of your recorded video and audio materials, providing your content before class, and offering multiple ways to engage with your course will help all of your students participate more fully.

Other Tips to Keep in Mind:

(More information can be found at Creating Accessible Content and UDL@UVA)

  • Use descriptive wording for hyperlink text (e.g., “UVA Teaching Continuity” rather than “click here”).
  • Use built-in tools for structure and accessibility checkers for your documents:
  • When possible, avoid creating PDF documents. (Why?) Presenting content directly online (e.g., placing content within UVACollab/Canvas/Blackboard content pages) offers more flexibility, allowing the user to view the content in a manner best suited for them. If you want a printable version (e. g., for a syllabus), attach a protected Word (preferred) or PDF document as a SECONDARY way to access the content.
  • Be sure to include alternate text (alt text) for graphics, photos, charts and other images in documents and understand when and how to identify "decorative images"

Specific Information for Using Zoom and Other Online Video Conferencing Tools:

Creating Course Content with UDL and Accessibility in Mind:

UVA Teaching Continuity Resources:

Key UVA Websites for More Information: