Thomas Jefferson University

Designing for Inclusivity

Designing your content for inclusivity is critical to meeting the learning needs of 21st-century learners. Learners are becoming more and more diverse across learning environments. Traditional learners enter with higher expectations about customization and access, while the non-traditional student population is ever-expanding and may struggle to fit learning into busy professional and personal lives.

Higher education must respond to the diverse needs of learners by creating inclusive and inviting learning environments. Designing for inclusivity should be a proactive, not reactive, process. Gaining a better understanding of usability, accessibility and Universal Design for Learning encourages faculty to reduce barriers to access while encouraging persistence through the creation of adaptive content.

Tools such as Ally are available within Canvas to assist with these goals. There are also many other resources available that can help to increase the accessibility of documents across various apps. Some minor adjustments in the creation process can have major impacts on increasing accessibility for learners.

The following courses offer an opportunity to dive into these topics and more.


An Introduction to Universal Design for Learning

The goals for this lesson include:

  • define and differentiate the terms usability, accessibility, and UDL
  • summarize the development of UDL
  • introduce UDL guidelines


A Guided Tour of Ally 

The goals for this lesson include:

  • demonstrate the use of Ally in Canvas
  • document methods of interacting with accessibility score indicators, the instructor feedback panel and the course accessibility report
  • identify the best use cases for alternative formats


Resources to Improve Accessibility 

The goals for this lesson include:

  • identify techniques available to increase accessibility in Microsoft 365 and Adobe Acrobat documents
  • explain the rationale for alternative text for images
  • summarize major guidelines for drafting alternate text 

Complete Resources to Improve Accessibility module.