Principles of Accessibility


Universal Instructional Design (UID) is a way of thinking about course design and teaching in such a way that materials are accessible to all students regardless of their abilities.

Four ways in which people with disabilities are challenged when seeking information include learning, seeing, hearing, and interacting.

  • For persons with cognition challenges: Icon of side on head showing the brain.
  • For persons with limited vision, there is an icon of an eye with diagonal lines over 1/2 of the eye to indicate vision impairment.
  • For persons with limited hearing: Icon of a front an ear with sound waves coming from the ear.
  • For persons with limited mobility: Icon with two fingers on a touch pad.

Memorial has the duty to provide course materials in formats that all students can easily use. For computer or online based materials we need to consider hearing, mobility, visual, and cognitive challenges. Providing accessible course content is not hard, it just requires a little planning.


For a deaf or hard of hearing student auditory information needs to be presented visually. This includes closed captioning for audio and video course components.


For a student with limited hand mobility, or limited fine motor control, consideration needs to be given for the amount of direct input required. Students with mobility challenges may need extra time to complete tasks. Often the students will use voice commands to operate the computer.


A visually challenged student may have low or no vision, or may be colour-blind. A low or no vision student will often have a screen reader which will read text from the screen. However, to help the screen reader and the student, we need to:

  • use clear headings,
  • provide detailed alt tags on graphics,
  • avoid using tables except for displaying data,
  • etc.

A low vision student may be able to use a screen magnifier. The magnifier limits the amount of content displayed at any time, thus it often takes more time for these learners to complete tasks.

A colour-blind student is challenged when content is differentiated by colour alone. Either avoid using colour to display content meaning or use colour with another feature, such as italics, font, clear headings, etc. (Using two or more features to display content may cause confusion for some learners.) Avoid using green, orange, and red as these colours are particularly challenging for colour-blind people.


This may be a learner with dyslexia, short-term memory loss, etc. Being consistent with layout throughout a website will help these learners. Also having content presented in a variety of formats will be a benefit.

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Resource created by Daph C.