Part 9: Spring 2019 Labs

159 Beyond Accessibility — UDL and Inclusive Learning – 02.21.2019

Universal Design for Learning aims to provide multiple means of student engagement, representation, and expression. At the February 21, 2019 Active Teaching Lab, 20 participants took on the daunting topic of how to move beyond individual accommodations to inclusive teaching practices that are effective for all students. Attendees discussed how to increase flexibility, accessibility, and inclusivity while keeping the time demand of such a task under control. 


  • Design for people with different abilities or circumstances who may not represent the “norm,” and the middle will fall into place. No learner is a “typical” learner. See accessibility consultation company Deque’s presentation on personas for inclusive design for more.
  • Expect the invisible. Understand where students are coming from and what challenges they face. See the UW-Madison Campus-Wide Disability Survey Results to gain a clearer picture of ability differences on campus—and how our perceptions may not reflect reality. Note that students are not required to have a Faculty Accommodation Letter to get accommodations.
  • Assess UX. Push students to consider user-facing design and accessibility in multimedia projects. Doing so promotes higher quality student work, gives instructors new ideas for ways to present information, and trains the next generation to integrate UDL and inclusivity into their practices.
  • Enlist students to make content relevant. The 1:many instructor perspective of teaching is typically geared for mainstream needs. Smaller peer learning groups can often more nimbly address more personalized individual learning needs.
  • Think: Am I providing one student information that others aren’t getting? If one student asks a question, post the answer for all students to access. 
  • Rather than trying to anticipate the needs of every student, simply ask them what could have gone better. Anonymous surveys in Canvas are useful for getting student feedback.
  • Go for captioning over transcriptions for video audio. Captioning captures nonverbal meaning and parenthetical utterances while pre-planned transcriptions do not. Try the captioning app Kapwing to auto-generate editable captions.
  • Keep it simple to start. Small changes, such as making syllabi and course content available for early viewing, providing access to notes, and using the Canvas accessibility checker are quick and easy ways to begin shifting teaching practices toward inclusivity.

For more information on inclusive learning, visit the session’s activity sheet.


The Active Teaching Lab is a Faculty Engagement program with sessions held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:00pm and Fridays from 8:30-9:45am in the Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.), room 120. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs. We build interdisciplinary conversations that are more emergent than a presenter and more dynamic than a panel — a conversation with colleagues sharing challenges, solutions, and experiments on topics selected by a variety of stakeholders.

Sign up for regular Lab announcements by sending an email to


Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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