Exercise: Making Access Mean Something


Learning Objectives

At the end of this exercise, participants will be able to:

  • Examine institutional support structure through the lens of Universal Design for Learning.
  • Examine institutional support structure through the lens of Instructional Design.
  • Design a pathway for students in their courses to access institutional support.

Suggested Materials


  • Presenter display, such as connected television or projector.
  • Pre-loaded, or bookmarked, institutional support webpages or contact information.
  • Sticky notes, easel and post-it sizes.
  • Writing utensils to hand out to participants.


  • Computer
  • Post-it notes and writing utensil (provided by presenter)

Estimated Activity Time

Thirty minutes.

Exercise Outline

Universal Design for Learning guidelines, based on the Why, What and How of learning.
Universal Design for Learning guidelines, based on the Why, What and How of learning.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of guidelines that focus on aspects of Engagement, Representation, and Action & Expression to support every learner through a series of deliberate and carefully orchestrated choices to improve material access.

At its core, “UDL can be viewed as a combination of addressing accessibility needs in a proactive way and giving all students a chance to internalize information and express themselves in a variety of formats.”

Note that during the collaborative design and build process, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines must also be considered. The Equitable Access exercise goes into more detail about the “design” phase, often solely taking place within the Learning Management System.

Exercise GuidelineS

Note that these exercises can be delivered sequentially, scaffolding to build off each other, or run independently: The scope of either activity is not necessarily without impact on the other.

Activity One

  • Using a map or syllabus for an upcoming or past course, look at how rubrics are leveraged throughout.
    • Are there rubrics available for your students, either in the syllabus itself or the Learning Management System?
    • If there are no rubrics, are there opportunities for them to be included? How might they, along with UDL,  better support students as well as your own time providing feedback.
  • Rather than prescribing the “What” of assignment submission (“Word doc only!”),  adapt the thinking to “How.” If a student struggles with writing, why not allow them to submit a video? If they are not comfortable doing a video, how about an infographic? Could the rubric be based in knowledge rather than content type?
    • How might the idea of Novice, Intermediate, and Adept/Proficient submissions encourage students to take a deeper look into the concepts provided?

Activity Two

  • Run an accessibility check and link verifier on one of your current courses.
    • If you do not know how to run an accessibility check or link verifier, the workshop facilitator may have this information handy. If not in a workshop or the facilitator is unsure of where to locate this information, do a collaborative search through the provider website. Or there is always Google.


Some Learning Management Systems (LMS), such as Canvas, have their own built-in accessibility checkers. Others may not. Check with your LMS Admin, LMS provider webpage, or Google search, to find out how to utilize it.

Note that these may be more surface-level and not as in depth as what the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines outline.

Check with your institution to see if you have access to third-party accessibility checkers for a deeper dive. Two possible options are:

  • UDOIT, for Canvas.
  • ALLY, for Blackboard, Moodle, Desire to Learn, and Canvas.
  • After running the accessibility checker, reflect on the following:
    • Create a list of the resources available in your institution to support UDL and web content accessibility.
      • Are most of them housed in a teaching and learning center or division, in the Information Technology department, or in an office of disability services?
      • Discover how students navigate your institutions process for seeking assistance or accommodations for their learning.
  • After running the link validator, reflect on the following:
    • Are your students able to access everything as you intended?
    • Does the validator return any invalid links – such as if a webpage returns a 404 Error, or suddenly points to a new article on the server but not the one you originally linked to? What do you do next, and do you know how to make the updates in your Learning Management System?
    • How often do you run the validator or audit the course material, other than when importing it year-over-year?

Optional Activity

  • Design an infographic for inclusion in your syllabus and/or course on how students can connect with support services.
    • Not sure where to get started making infographics? Take a look at Piktochart or Canva.


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To the extent possible under law, Bay Path University has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Grow Your Own Instructional Designer Workshop Guide, except where otherwise noted.

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