Accessibility in Teaching and Learning @ CSU

 “It is a golden moment, when a lecturer offers me a summary of things that was uttered just a few moments ago.  I get a look into what’s happening at that moment. This is incredibly rare for me since I have received essential information in arrears almost all my school and academic life.  If I may use a metaphor, it is like I have been given a sip of water, even though I need to trust that I will still get a jug of water three to four days after all others receive theirs.”

Anonymous CSU Student, 2018


What do we mean by ‘Accessibility?’

Accessible means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use.  The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally and independently as a person without a disability

Historically, students must register with the Disability Service to initiate another, alternative format for inaccessible learning material.  Instead of waiting for students to self-identify their disability and requirements for reasonable adjustments, the solution is to incorporate principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and web accessibility into the curriculum design process.

Why is Accessibility Important?

Did you know that 1 in 5 Australians live with a disability?   According to the most recent survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015), 101,600 students with a disability attended University whilst only 60,110 students chose to disclose any disability to their university (Brett, 2016).

Designing accessible content does not only benefit students with a disability but also provides equal access and educational opportunities for all students.  For example, adding captions or text versions of audio content not only provides accessibility for students with hearing impairments but can assist non-native English speakers as well as all students, with the spelling of technical terms etc.


How does CSU support students?

The following student facing video provides a brief overview of the services available for students at CSU:

What is ‘Universal Design’ for Learning (UDL)?

Universal design is the process of creating products and environments to be usable by all students without the need for adaptation or specialised design.  In the application of universal design to learning, lecturers anticipate the presence of students with diverse abilities and make design decisions that result in learning opportunities being available to all, rather than focussing on what might be considered the ‘typical’ student (Bergstahler, 2015, p. 71).

 Universally designed curricula and course materials should provide learning experiences which address three broad objectives.  They are:

1.    Students should be able to interact and respond to materials in multiple ways,

2.     Students should be able to find meaning and thus motivate themselves in different ways, and

3.    All web-based course material must be accessible to all

(Australian Disabilities Clearinghouse, n.d., para. 3).

Why Apply UDL?

Planning for UDL during the design phase of a course is much easier than creating accommodation strategies or implementing reasonable adjustments once a student has enrolled.  Applying UDL in the design of a course is less expensive that developing accommodation strategies every time a student with a disability enrols in a course.

Universal Design creates inclusive design solutions that are welcoming and promotes accessibility and usability, allowing people with all levels of ability to live independently, including those with disabilities. The ability of a person to remain as independent as possible can be influenced by how accessible and usable products, services and environments are.

UDL values diversity, equity and inclusion, promotes best practice and does not lower standards

Applying UDL principles for the online environment

Provide multiple means for:

  • Representation
  • Engagement
  • Action and expression

Provide multiple ways to:

  • Gain knowledge
  • Interact
  • Demonstrate knowledge

(Center for Applied Special Technology, CAST).