Designing Accessible Writing Experiences

Are you thinking about how to provide your students opportunities to demonstrate their learning through writing? Are you interested in crafting assignments that allow students to authentically express what they know?

It can be a challenge to provide students with academic supports while structuring deep engagement with course material, particularly in written assignments. However, there are frameworks that make this work easier for both instructors and students. This workshop will draw from principles of accessibility and writing pedagogy and give participants the opportunity to put them into practice by sharing and reworking assignments. By the end, writing assignments will be more thoroughly designed to allow students to express their knowledge authentically by communicating clear expectations, options for performance, and multiple ways of engaging with writing.

If you are interested but cannot make the physical meeting, please feel free to send on assignments that are partially successful, so that they may be returned to you with participant suggestions. Those in attendance will have the opportunity to either bring in assignments to be workshopped or learn from others’ work.

Designing Accessible Writing Experiences was offered in the Spring 2019 as an in-person workshop at the Graduate Center, CUNY. The workshop and materials were developed by 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.

Materials Folder: Designing Accessible Writing Experiences

Workshop Plan


  • Recognize key points of unison between UDL and WAC.
  • Identify personal and disciplinary priorities relative to creative expression/critical thinking and privileged formal modes.
  • Critically appraise accessibility of existing writing assignments.
  • Design ways to create new entry points within existing writing assignments.


  • Redesigned/reworked writing assignments


Before the workshop

  • Invite folks to send assignments or physically show up or both.
  • Logistical check – think about groupings.
  • Quick overview – What are your concerns? Strengths?
  • Introduce UDL – Watch video
  • How does UDL differ from other approaches that you’ve heard for working with students with disabilities or struggling learners? 

Points of Unison – Jigsaw VP posts

  • Why is balancing access and maintaining high standards so important in our context?
  • Why is emphasizing the process of writing so important for emerging writers?

Freewrite & Share

  • What are your values with respect to student writing? 
  • What are the values of your discipline?
  • Share existing writing assignments.
  • What elements do you think students might struggle with?
  • How much is the process of writing emphasized?

Workshop—How do we open these up?

  • How else might new entry points be created?


  • What do you take away from this? 
  • How can this be used more proactively next semester?