Accessibility & Universal Design

AIMT: Accessible Informational Materials and Technologies

Types of disabilities benefit from different types of accessibility

Below is a generalized list of what types of digital accessibility can help people with specific disabilities. This is not a comprehensive list by any means and the benefits of accessibility are much broader than just this list.

  • People who are low vision and blind need digital text that is real text (can be copied), not an image of text. This allows them to enlarge the text and/or read it with screen reading software. They also need all visual content to be labeled or described.
  • People who are deaf and hard of hearing need captions/subtitles on videos and transcripts on audio recordings.
  • People who are color blind need color not to be used for categorizing, differentiating or informational purposes. If color is used for decorative purposes, it should still be readable if viewed in grayscale.
  • People who have upper mobility disabilities and can’t use a mouse need computer applications (including video players and forms) to be operable with a keyboard alone. No mouse should be required.
  • People with learning disabilities need clear navigation and layout with short, chunked out content. Don’t use large blocks of text or write in all capitals.
  • People who have photosensitive seizure disorder need to avoid blinking lights, so digital content (including video) should not contain blinking or flashing content.

Blackboard Ally

See the webpage on Blackboard Ally: an accessibility checking tool for your course.

What is Universal Design for Learning?

“Universal design for learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. ” (  Universal design for learning is more inclusive of all differences. Accessibility is still part of UDL, but UDL is also concerned about improving education for students with differences in experience, language and culture. Read more about UDL.


ResourcesAccessibility quick guide

The Laws

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended 

  • Title II  – ADA Title II applies to State and local government entities, and, in subtitle A, protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in services, programs, and activities provided by State and local government entities. Title II extends the prohibition on discrimination established by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 , as amended, 29 U.S.C. 794 , to all activities of State and local governments as well as educational institutions regardless of whether these entities receive Federal financial assistance.  
  • Title III  ADA Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (businesses that are generally open to the public, including institutions of higher education).  

The Accessibility Standards/Guidelines