Inclusive Educational Technology

The following information is also available in PDF format.

Information in this section is adapted from material provided by Laurie Harrison, Director, Academic Technology, OISE/UT Education Commons.

  • Formats that are accessible to most adaptive hardware and software, and which can be customized based on users’ preferences (e.g. text size and colour) include:HTML (preferred).  This can include HTML versions of articles linked through the library website or online versions of newspaper or magazine articles.
    Text-based PDF files. You can identify text-based PDF files because text can be highlighted, copied and searched.
    Documents created in word-processing programs, including MS Word, especially if formatted using Styles.
    If you are posting documents you have created (e.g. a course syllabus or handout), create the file in a word-processing program (e.g. MS Word) using formatting styles (see above) and post as a word-processing document or convert to a text-based PDF.
  • Formats that are less accessible include:
    Video and audio files.  To be accessible, any video and audio files should be accompanied by captions or a transcript. CTSI can assist you with locating transcription and video/audio editing services (contact for support).
    Image-based PDF files. You can identify image-based PDF files because text cannot be highlighted, copied or searched.
    Flash or Java-based learning objects.
    Colour, when used to convey meaning.  For example, a blind or colour blind person will not be able to pick out dates coloured red out of a list of deadlines to indicate essential due dates. In this example, you might add the word “important” next to those red-letter dates so that students using a screen reader or who are colour blind will still be able to identify the highlighted dates.
  • Accessibility and Blackboard:
    Most Blackboard tools are accessible to students and instructors using adaptive technologies.
    When customizing colours in your Blackboard course, choose high-contrast colours (e.g. white on black, black on light blue) rather than colours that are close in tone or shade.
    The Interactive View on Grade Center is not accessible to screen readers.  To use Grade Center with a screen reader, click on the Screen Reader View link in Grade Center.
    Additional resources for building an accessible Blackboard course are available at COURSEsites. (To access these resources, you must create an account, then search for Universal Design & Accessibility.)
  • If you are building your own course website, make sure that it complies with W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) Level A. You can test the accessibility of your website by going to and entering your site’s URL.  This site was developed by the Province of Ontario and the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre in the Faculty of Information at the U of T and uses the WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines (which are more rigourous than Level A).