While many instructors think of accessibility in relation to disability, accessible course design benefits all students. In this workshop, we will investigate what it means to create accessible classes, and consider the challenges and opportunities involved in designing and delivering learning experiences that are inclusive of all students.

In particular, we will discuss making course materials accessible, digital accessibility, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and consider strategies for shaping syllabi, lesson plans, assignments, and assessment with questions of access in mind.

Participants are encouraged to bring a lesson plan or assignment they’d like to make more accessible, which we can workshop with the group.

This workshop was offered in Fall 2017 as an in-person workshop at the Graduate Center, CUNY. The workshop and materials were developed by Mei Ling Chua, with Jessica Murray and Louis Olander.

All materials on this page and in the linked google folder are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) 4.0 International Public License.


This folder contains outreach materials, workshop plans and slides, and a handout about ethical tech lingo used in the workshop.

Materials Folder: Accessibility Workshop

Workshop Plan


  • Name, program, what/where teaching, what’s one thing you currently do well/are proud of


  • Compare contrast terms and their connotations (which terms pairs & how many TBD w/ registration)
    • disability | handicap | impairment
    • accessible | usable | universal
    • compliance | access
    • accessibility | accomodation | modification | differentiation

What barriers to accessibility in the classroom have you observed/experienced/ can think of?

Real-world Examples (ask for)

  • Class on 14th floor, not enough elevators/arriving to class late
  • Mid-semester/late accommodations ask
  • Deaf student first time
  • Digital component cog psych class, partially blind student using a, screen reader, said ok with website, changed theme to be more accessible, but then didn’t do half work, prof didn’t know how to handle grading etc.… didn’t want to lower grade if unable to access/ complete digital work
  • (first encounter difficult. Not knowing what to . ..just ask..  What need, but… spirit of people being overwhelmed. If thinking must total accessible, encourage small changes.  (i.e. jenn moved statement of disability to front of syllabus rather than the back..location and prominence. (CUNY suggestions for syllabus language:
  • A technology policy…attendance policies seemingly neutral parts are sites that need to explore and example///

OAER (Open Accessible Educational Resources)


  • Watch UDL video, introduce website
  • Brief review of UDL graphic
  • Talk about choice in UDL – especially in higher ed
    • This should allow you to increase rigor, not decrease!

Example from my teaching

  • Explain 4 dimensions of classroom environment (model with this lesson)
  • Goals – what students will learn. Not easily changeable in higher ed., but certainly possible to make more salient/relevant/explicit
  • Assessments – how you will know students have learned it.
  • Methods – how you will move students toward goal.
  • Materials – what stuff you need to move students toward goal.

On your own, brainstorm:

  • One content-area goal you would want students to master
  • One student that you know who is difficult to teach/marginalized by the curricula (including, but not necessarily because of disability).

Participant Lesson Plans

  • Time to work through lesson plans or assignment ideas (in groups?)
  • Move into content groups (Humanities, Sciences, Social Sciences, Arts? More specific?)
  • Plan a lesson – (goals/assessments/methods/materials)
  • Think about where your particular student would encounter barriers
  • Make instructional modifications, using paradigm of choice – where could you give that student options?

Share out

  • Who was your student, and how did you modify instruction for their needs.
  • Who else would likely benefit from those modifications?
  • Review UDL checkpoints as they align to the strategies.

Additional Readings/Resources