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Digital Accessibility for Academics: Basic Skills Workshop

Basics of accessibility for digital and print documents; tips and tools for academics. This workshop was presented on January 31, 2024 for the Center for the Humanities.

Why is Accessibility Important?

Accessibility is not a "nice to have," it is a "must do." Not only are there federal and state laws in the United States that require accessible information, it is also a human right to seek and access information:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Accessible Information Supports Campus Belonging and Inclusion

A video from UCI Digital about how inaccessible websites make users with accessibility needs feel.

What does accessibility have to do with Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion?

Many institutions of higher education are now using a variation of the acronym DEIA to talk about accessibility along with conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Designing tools and resources with accessibility best practices helps recognize the diversity on our campus, make all students feel a sense of belonging and inclusion, and allows for more equity in education.  

For information about users specific needs, check out these posters from the UK that help make accessibility practices for different user groups clearer: 

What does Accessibility have to do with Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

Cartoon: "Clearing a path for people with special needs clears the path for everyone!" Inspired by a public school student with disabilities © 2002 Michael F. Giangreco, Illustrated by Kevin Ruelle, Peytral Publications, Inc. 952-949-8707 Child in wheelchair: “Could you please shovel the ramp?” Adult: “All these other kids are waiting to use the stairs. When I get through shoveling them off, then I will clear the ramp for you.” Child in Wheelchair: “But if you shovel the ramp, we can all get in!”


"Clearing a path for people with special needs clears the path for everyone!" by Michael Giangreco, illustrated by Kevin Ruelle.

Universal Design for Learning

Based on the work of David H. Rose, Ed.D. of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), the UDL framework has three main principles:

  1. Multiple means of representation to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge,
  2. Multiple means of expression (including Multiple measurements) to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know, and
  3. Multiple means of engagement to tap into learners' interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn

As illustrated in the cartoon above, when one uses UDL principles the learning experience can better serve a wider audience.

More on UDL: