Accessible Teaching and Learning

“The burden of adaptation should be first placed on curricula, not the learner”

It’s the law

AODA doodles

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) is law in Ontario, and establish specific requirements for all Ontario organizations, including universities.

As an inclusive university, we want to do what’s right, not just because we have to comply with legislation.

Just as we are removing barriers to our facilities and infrastructure on campus, we are moving toward making teaching and learning more accessible.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, Section 16 of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation of the AODA requires that educational institutions provide educators with accessibility awareness training related to accessible program or course delivery and instruction.


AODA doodles

The purpose of this fact sheet, published by the Committee of Accessible Teaching & Learning is to:

Create awareness about accessible teaching and learning

AODA doodles

  • Provide information about accessible program/course delivery and instruction
  • Profile educators and authors involved in removing barriers in teaching and learning
  • Inform readers about provincial accessibility legislation

Shifting paradigms

AODA doodles

As a society and within our organizations, we are shifting paradigms – moving away from focusing on an individual’s limitations or deficits (“the medical model” of disability)

We are moving towards recognizing disability as a social construct, with the focus on proactively removing barriers to groups of people created by inaccessible design of our goods, services or facilities.

Accessibility means giving people of all abilities the opportunity to participate fully in daily life.

Accessibility means that we take reasonable efforts to provide our teaching and learning in a way that respects the dignity, independence, integration and equality of opportunity of all students, including students with disabilities.

At Brock our institutional commitment to accessibility is outlined in our University policy – Provision of University Goods and Services to Persons with Disabilities.

Why does it matter to educators and students?

Flexible course design is important in order to create an accessible teaching and learning environment for a diversity of learners.

“We must meet the students where they are and bring them to where we want them to be. My use of a variety of simulations and teaching styles allows for greater accessibility by each of my students who indeed have a variety of learning styles.”

– Professor Marilyn Cottrell

drawing of a female person

For assistance designing curriculum that is accessible, call the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation at ext. 4392.

What is Universal Instructional Design (UID) or Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

“Universal Design for Learning is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone – not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs”

Source: CAST

Universal Design For Learning diagram, based on University of Guelph

Based on University of Guelph – Universal Instructional Design:

“Universal design for learning is an excellent way to foster innovation in the classroom. The flexibility of curriculum design not only enables students to apply their knowledge to content areas, but also the creativity to generate new knowledge.”

– Dr. James Mandigo

drawing of a female person

How can you make your teaching and learning more accessible?

Applying three basic principles in your curriculum design, content and delivery can make your course more accessible.

These principles are:

  • Provide Multiple Means of Representation (the “what” of learning)
  • Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression (the “how” of learning)
  • Provide Multiple Means of Engagement (the “why” of learning)

Accessible course design benefits students

“I find it very helpful to print out course materials before class, because I have a difficulty writing quickly, and rather than struggling to write everything down, I can focus my energy and attention on the class. All students can benefit from this practice.”

– Natasha Southwell, 3rd year

drawing of a female person


Published by the Committee on Accessible Teaching and Learning.

2 thoughts on “Accessibility

  1. John Dembitz

    I have writtebn a book with the working title….’the 2×2 manager’….which aims to dramatise the power and value of 2×2 matrices.
    I came across your skcetch….by Giulia Forsythe – Prisoner’s Dilemma….and would love to be able to include it in my book. Would you give me permission to reproduce it?
    With many thanks.
    John A. Dembitz

  2. Debbie Renkema

    Giulia – I enjoyed your session at Connect 2014.

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