Teaching Commons > Teaching Guides > Technology > Accessibility


Accessibility refers to the ability of people with disabilities to access or use a product or service. It is strongly related to the concept of universal design, which is the process of making products and services accessible to all people, regardless of disability. For more on the Universal Design for Learning framework, see Frameworks & Taxonomies of Learning.

Document and Web Design

These principles and features can help ensure you create documents that are accessible

The University of Washington has short and focused resources for creating accessible documents. See "Checking Microsoft Office for Accessibility” and  “Checking PDFs for Accessibility.” The National Center on Disability and Access to Education has guides for making documents in many programs (including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) more accessible. See Document Accessibility Cheatsheets for the guides.

Captioning and Transcripts

In order to optimize accessibility for people with auditory disabilities, web multimedia should include both captions and a transcript, according to WebAIM, a leading non-profit organization dedicated to expanding web accessibility since 1999.

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) notes that captions are not only essential for people who are deaf or have difficulty hearing, but also aid people who:

  • Are in silent or loud environments
  • Are less fluent in the language spoken
  • Prefer reading text

You can add captions to videos in Panopto and also enable captions in Zoom.

Transcripts not only helps users who are deaf or have difficult hearing but also aid people who:

  • Have difficulty comprehending auditory or visual information
  • Have a limited internet connection and cannot stream audio/video
  • Have a need to skim and search a textual record of the recording, for example in preparation for an exam or while writing a paper 

You can generate transcripts in Panopto and also generate transcripts in Zoom.

Accessibility Checker in D2L

D2L has some built in features to help instructors to ensure their D2L content is accessible. To learn more, see D2L Accessibility Checker.