Accessibility in E-Learning

Accessibility refers to content that is created in such a way that students with disabilities are able to access the content without additional aids or modifications.  Accessibility is preferable because it can address a larger number of needs and thus impact a greater number of students.

Where accommodations are provided for students after the fact, accessibility addresses needs of students with disabilities before hand so that individuals can enjoy the same experience and have the same opportunities as students without disabilities.

Accessibility is also a preferred method of addressing the needs of students with disabilities because disabilities may be invisible and not all students with disabilities will self-identify or a disability may be undiagnosed. The best thing about accessibility is when you design with accessibility in mind you are also making content better for all students regardless of disability status.  Creating content in a way that considers multiple styles of learning is a concept known as Universal Design for Learning*.or UDL. To learn more about UDL consider taking the ALT Lab self-paced course on Universal Design for Learning.

The video following video, “A Personal Look at Accessibility in Higher Education” shares the experiences of students, faculty, and staff with disabilities in higher education and how accessibility helps them to be successful.


In 20 Tips for Teaching an Accessible Online Course,” Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler outlines best practices for addressing accessibility in online courses.  The list of best practices includes best practices for creating accessible documents and videos as well as best practices for instructional delivery, such as ensuring that you are allowing adequate time for students to complete tasks. The tips offered by Dr. Burgstahler are not just for online classes though and can (and should) be used in face to face and hybrid classes as well.

Dr. Burgstahler goes into further detain in the following video:


Other important resources:

  • VCU offers resources and support through Student Affairs
  • Great starting point is this article*, which offers links to other helpful resources

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Hungry for more?

ALT Lab offers a number of facilitated courses in our  Certificate Program and through our series of Self-Paced courses. Please check out our website for more details or, for a custom professional development request, please contact us using this form.