Universally Accessible

We value learning that is accessible to all learners whatever their background or level of study.

Learners must have comparable learning opportunities whatever their cultural, economical or personal circumstances. This implies that activities and resources are accessible to all students, either directly or through the provision of alternative paths so that all learners have similar experiences.

The use of visual, audio and multimedia files is encouraged as a way to expand learning content that is usually text based

Engagement with materials and activities is a fundamental feature of education. Those materials should be designed to cater for the preferences of all learners. We recommend that, when possible, you use videos, podcasts, news articles, multimedia or infographics (Universal Design for Learning; EADTU) to support this engagement.


  • After lecturing on a topic use Blackboard and provide links to a video that recaps what you explained to students (YouTube, Lynda.com, Khan Academy, Vimeo, etc)
  • Record a short 5 minutes podcast with the key concepts from the lecture and make this available in BlackBoard

Learning materials support students with disabilities

Learning materials should be designed to ensure that students with learning difficulties can cope with reading (Universal Design for Learning). These Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) can range from dyslexia (the most frequent) to an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and from vision Impairment to physical disability. There isn’t a recipe to respond to every student need because they may have different ways of addressing their own disability.


  • Speak with relevant students and if applicable refer to the Individual Support Plan (ISP) as per student services recommendations. There are however some inclusive guidelines that you can use to make your learning materials more accessible.
  • Students with dyslexia often struggle to read PowerPoint slides. Try recording an audio track with your slides (in PowerPoint). Also, take a look here https://www.yorksj.ac.uk/media/content-assets/student-services/documents/A-Guide-to-Dyslexia-(PowerPoint)-A5.pdf for some strategies to help with large cohorts of students with dyslexia.
  • Try to provide videos with subtitles to make them more accessible for deaf or hard of hearing students, for students for whom English is not their first language who may struggle to understand your accent or for students that may be commuting and can’t turn the volume higher.

Learners are able to recap face-to-face sessions ideally through UWL Replay or through lecture notes or handouts

The University has a lecture capture policy to allow students with some form of learning disability to recap what happened in the lecture. Lecture capture is particularly relevant for students with dyslexia or with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who will gain extra time to listen to the lecture and to follow what is being covered or re-watch it with more time and in a quieter environment at home, or in the library. When it is not possible to capture your lecture, you can provide a summary of what happened either using annotated lecture notes or handouts.


  • Use UWL replay to record only the most relevant moments of your teaching and reinforce the existence of such files in Blackboard explaining to students how they can access them
  • Provide the PowerPoint that you used during the lecture as an annotated file, adding new ideas and discussions (in the notes section) or highlighting potential questions that came up during the lecture and signposting the most relevant concepts covered
  • Record comments and ideas that emerged in the lecture as a separate audio file to complement the PowerPoint or use the audio record function in PowerPoint to provide additional guidance for those who have reading difficulties.

Learning materials are made available before the lecture

This is particularly relevant for students with disabilities and learning difficulties as they would be able to prepare in advance for the lecture. Blind students would benefit particularly, as they could engage with the reading materials with more time to prepare for what is going to be covered.


  • If you don’t want to make available the full PowerPoint slideshow, you can present it with gaps to be filled-in, or make available other materials that support the subject but not your presentation
  • You can make the content available specifically to the students with disabilities and learning difficulties
  • You can provide an outline of what is going to be covered during the seminar/lecture as text and an audio/video clip on Blackboard

Assessment and Feedback are provided in alternative formats, when needed, to ensure all students have similar assessment experiences

Different assessment formats can be more or less challenging to those with SpLD. It is important therefore to understand what these are by talking about assessment and feedback with the students. When designing it, think of ways that you can provide some choice to the students with regard to the topic or format of the assessment as well as referring to the Individual Support Plan (ISP). In addition, assessment tools such as Turnitin and Blackboard have different ways of providing feedback, some of them are more accessible to students than others.


  • Where an assessment is text based, you may need to allow more time for submission for a dyslexic student. Alternatively, you may suggest a different format of submission (a video, a webpage or portfolio, or a multimedia file) but try this for all students, allow them to play to their strengths.
  • Allow students some choice in the actual topic they address, provided they can meet their learning outcomes (e.g. if the learning outcome is to demonstrate their ability to critique creative writing, allow them to choose the author).
  • Group work can be inclusive as this allows each student member to perform to their strengths and teaches them the skills of team working.
  • Feedback can be contextualised through using ‘in line’ comments. This is usually well received by students. However, some may struggle to read this feedback (i.e. visually impaired or dyslexic students). To provide more contextualised feedback, you may want to use the sound recording tool (for visually impaired students) or screen capture (for dyslexic students).

Acronyms, jargon and cultural references should be avoided

Using jargon, colloquial language and idioms can result in excluding students who are unfamiliar with your own knowledge about the topic or with the UK context. Your ability to engage in ‘linguistic reformulation’ (using discipline-specific terminology but then re-phrasing immediately it in simpler language) is a key skill.


  • Explain to your students what each term means immediately after you use it even if this means repeating yourself. Not all students will remember them the first time and some will not be present when this term was first introduced
  • Make a list (with explanations) in your blackboard module of the most important terms and acronyms used during the module
  • Avoid using cultural references to the UK or to your own country without explaining them; this should be applicable to both yourself and your students
  • Where cultural references are necessary to the topic, make sure you fully explain them for those who are not familiar with that culture.

More complex or more relevant concepts should be clarified, detailed, frequently repeated and acquisition of them should be assessed


  • Use comprehension checks to ensure students are understanding the key concepts through question and answer, using audience response systems (e.g. Poll everywhere) or paper-based equivalents (providing student with coloured cards signifying yes and no).
  • Repeat the explanation of each key concept at least once, making sure you come at it from a different perspective to aid comprehension. At the end of the lecture recap the explanation of each key concept covered.
  • Use Blackboard to introduce each key concept and their relevance to the student’s course (not just the module).


Further resources