Accessibility in an online space

Some learners may have additional needs with respect to language, audio or visual representations. When teaching in the online space, some simple choice you make will have a large impact on your students. The Universal Design for Learning Guidelines focuses on encouraging designing opportunities where students have autonomy and opportunities make decisions. Universal Design for Learning – From the Centre for Applied Special Technology (CAST) for more information view their website –


Table with three columns and 4 rows.
The Universal Design for Learning Guidelines Graphic Organiser is presented here suggest Multiple means of Engagement, Representation and Action and Expression. In each of these columns ideas around how to Access, Build, Internalise to develop expert learners who are purposeful and motivated, resourceful and knowledgeable and strategic and goal directed.


Specific examples:

In your PowerPoint slides do you include alternative text for the images you are using?

When you are in a classroom, you may describe the key elements of an image however when a student is learning from your slides without your audio commentary – the inclusion of alternate text describing the image will support students, with visual challenges.

If you are using the most recent version of PowerPoint online, it will use AI to guess what is presented in an image for you. If you want to see this feature in action, open your PowerPoint file then select picture then Alt Text

Screenshot of PowerPoint slide and alt text entry field
If you select generate a description for me, AI will try and describe the selected image.


When you have made a video for your course, do you include transcripts?

If you are using Canvas Studio to upload your video files – once your file is uploaded you can request a transcript and students can choose to view the videos with captions. From canvas studios open the video file. From the menu under the video select captions, then from the drop down box indicate which language is being spoken. Select request. Once the captions have been processed – from the dots beside the English, select edit. From here you can check and correct the captions then select publish.

This will allow students to choose to use the captions if they are learning in a loud environment or have other hearing challenges.

Screen shot of Canvas Studios with Caption tab selected
Canvas Studios will use AI to create a transcript from a video file for you.