Creating Accessible Courses

Implementing the principles of universal design in education means anticipating the diversity of students who may enroll in your course and planning accordingly. Designing a course with principles of universal design in mind is an ongoing and creative process. One does not achieve the level of usability aspired to with a simple checklist, but with an open mind and a commitment to making design and inclusion a priority.

There are a few elements, though, that if taken into consideration, can enhance access and usability greatly. Knowing and incorporating these elements on the front end of the design process can save hours down the line.

Provide materials needed for students (handouts, PowerPoints, slides) upon request for digital, large print or similar format. Contact DRC staff with questions about format accessibility. Handouts are to be given to student at the same time as the other students in class (or earlier). For Braille requests, provide materials to DRC for conversion. The DRC recommends designing all written materials in an accessible way to minimize the need for an individual accommodation.

Additional Considerations

  • Include a welcoming access statement.
  • Provide simple, consistent navigation in online resources.
  • Choose tools carefully.
  • Model and teach good discussion board etiquette.
  • Use color with care. (for more about color contrast and readability, try http://w3schools.sinsixx.com/quality/quality_readability.asp.htm)
  • Make sure text is readable.
  • Provide accessible document formats.
  • Describe graphics and visual elements.
  • Caption videos and transcribe audio clips.
  • Rethink, redesign PowerPoint presentations.

Providing Classroom Testing Accommodations

The traditional method of testing can present a barrier for some students with disabilities, which is why instructors may need to provide additional accommodations.

Listed below are institutionally-supported practices that create a more accessible and inclusive learning experience for all students:

Classroom Access

  • Include the required syllabus statement for access on all course syllabuses
  • Ensure Sign Language Interpreters or CART writers have appropriate seating in the classroom
  • Accessible transportation is available for field trips as requested

Exams and Learning Assessments

Partner with DRC to ensure all student assessments/exams are accessible. Options include:

  • Coordinating accommodations yourself within the classroom, office or department
  • Arranging for DRC to administer classroom exams with accommodations
  • Designing student assessment activities that minimize the need for accommodations

Accessible Course Materials and Content

Creating accessible materials ensures they can be read by a variety of users, including people who use assistive technology, such as screen readers, screen magnification and text-to-speech software. They are also are easier to access on a variety of newer devices, including smartphones, e-readers, iPads and other mobile devices, because the text “reflows” to fit the screen.

Contact Us

Phone: (765) 494-1247 
Email: drc@purdue.edu 

YONG Room 830 
155 S. Grant St. 
West Lafayette, IN 47907