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Accessible Course Design Supports Diverse Learning Styles

Save the dates! Accessibility Workshop and Bb Ally Webinar

Creating accessible courses requires thoughtful consideration of diverse learning styles and strategies that result in fostering engaging learning experiences for all students. These strategies include leveraging Universal Design for Learning principles to guide course design that offers variety to all learners.

Faculty can utilize Blackboard Ally to provide multiple content formats and empower students to use Ally's alternative formats to meet their learning styles. Additional resources about course usability and accessibility, including the chance to connect with peers, can be accessed by using your QM login to enroll in the Accessibility and Usability Resource Site (AURS).

Highlights of these approaches include the following:  

Universal Design for Learning Guidelines

  • Review UDL guidelines that support offering multiple means of representation to learners by employing various formats such as text, audio, and visual materials to accommodate diverse learning preferences. 
  • Foster engagement by incorporating interactive elements, discussions, or hands-on activities that cater to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. 
  • Ask yourself these key questions about learner engagement, representation, action and expression when designing a module or unit in your course. 
  • Implement UDL incrementally and intentionally. Refer to scholarly works like Behling & Tobin (2018) for guidance. They encourage faculty to think of UDL as "plus-one thinking about the interactions in your course" (p. 134). For example, is there just one more way you can help students stay on task, give them information, or demonstrate skills? The answers can help unlock a UDL strategy for your course. 

Bb Ally for Remediation, Alt Text

  • Explore accessibility tools and built-in features that allow you to cater to students with different  abilities. For example, Ally is a tool available in Blackboard Ultra that improves the accessibility of courses by scanning course content, generating an Accessibility Report, and providing tools to fix accessibility issues.
  • Use Ally's Instructor Feedback Panel to preview content and prioritize remediation.
  • Consider Ally's powerful alternative format options and let students know they can download content in multiple formats that give them choices in how they watch, read, or listen. 

QM's Accessibility and Usability Resource Site 

  • Register for free access to Quality Matters Accessibility and Usability Resource Site (AURS), the go-to resource for educators to address key accessibility and usability concerns. Log into MyQM, or create your QM account. After successfully logging in, use the side navigation menu to select "Workshop-Register" and self-enroll in AURS (last item on the workshop list).
  • Explore resources, videos, and best practices on topics like UDL, alternative text, captions, hyperlinks, accessible MS Office products, readability, accessible PDFs, accessible course design, and inclusive teaching practices.
  • Connect with colleagues through AURS discussion forums to seek and incorporate feedback to refine course design that supports an inclusive learning experience. 

Save the dates!

Instructional Technology will offer an accessibility workshop in January and a Bb Ally webinar in February to share best practices in course accessibility and usability. To learn more and register for an event, follow us on myUMBC.  


UMBC is committed to providing a consistent learning experience for everyone. The last day we will support Blackboard Original is December 31, 2024. Please check out our training and support:umbc.edu/go/ultra

Posted: December 12, 2023, 10:04 AM