My name’s Tamsyn Smith and I’m a Learning Designer in the University of Southampton’s Digital Learning team. I’ve created a series of short videos to explore Universal Design for Learning with you. Through the content on this page, we will

  • Consider student needs
  • Define Universal Design for Learning
  • Learn about the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (no.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018
  • Consider strategies to help you design a more inclusive learning experience for your students
  • Explore accessibility in Office365
  • Create an accessibility checklist

Further reading:

What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

The effects of privilege

Life isn’t fair, some people are more privileged than others. Consider how differences in privilege impact how easy/hard it is for a student to access education and learn. (For example, lack of money, working, commuting, hunger, caring responsibilities, and so on will all make a difference to someone’s ability to learn.)

It’s important to remember that a wide range of things, not just privilege, affect a student’s ability to access learning. For instance, learning difficulties, physical disabilities and so on.

Differential attainment gaps for BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) students show that race also affects a student’s ability to access learning and succeed; there is an inherent bias in the system against BAME students as a result of which they are less successful in their studies than their non-BAME counterparts.

Watch this short video and consider whether you are more privileged than others. [You can also take the Buzzfeed quiz, if you want).

What is privilege?

Next, watch this short video that introduces the concept of Universal Design for Learning.

Now you’ve started to consider what UDL is, please share some of the accommodations that you make for the diverse learners that you work with.

What do you do to meet the needs of your students?

Legislation and accessibility

Strategies to design a more accessible course

How would you define accessibility?

Accessibility features in Office 365

Much of the content that most people use for their courses will be created using Microsoft Office products. Office 365 has many accessibility features that you can utilise to make your resources as accessible as possible.

I’d recommend that you visit the Office 365 website to explore the latest accessibility features and read some case studies:

Office 365 – Accessible by design

Creating a checklist

An overview of Blackboard Ally

Blackboard Ally is a product that lets you know how accessible your online content is. It gives you hints and tips to increase the accessibility of your content and also allows for the creation of alternative formats.

Try Blackboard Ally for free

UDL in more depth

The Sleeper by Michael Wesch

  • The student didn’t find sessions engaging and the learning was therefore difficult for him to access.
  • Once he was given some choice, he had greater motivation to engage, the subject became more accessible to him and he performed better.

And finally…

If you want to know more, you might want to read my blogpost What is Universal Design for Learning? Why does UDL matter?

All of our posts about UDL