Accessibility and Course Materials

While the AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards only requires institutions to provide accessible text-based and multimedia course materials upon request by a student with a disability, all instructors should nevertheless ensure that these materials meet a minimum level of accessibility. This is because the AODA also gives students with disabilities the right to course materials of equivalent quality to other students enrolled in a course, and the right to receive them in a similar timeframe. In order to accomplish this, instructors must work beforehand to identify and reduce potential accessibility barriers in their course materials. Addressing these barriers proactively means that instructors will be better able to create fully accessible course materials in a timely manner once a request to do so is received.

Minimum Accessibility Preparedness for Course Materials

  • New documents and presentation slides created by the instructor are to be accessible (e.g., include alt-text for images, use high print/background contrast, nested headings created using the Styles menu, and inherently meaningful hyperlink text. For more information, see the Accessibility Resources on the University of Guelph Diversity and Human Rights website.
  • No flat (i.e., image-only) PDFs are to be posted on CourseLink. Consult Library Instructor Guide to Course Reserve for help in creating PDF documents that are both accessible and copyright compliant.
  • No hand-written resources are to be posted on CourseLink unless accompanied by a text transcription.
  • Copies of handouts and lecture slides can be provided in electronic formats.
  • Online exercises and web resources accompanying textbooks are to be accessible or treated as supplementary. (Ask publishers’ representatives about the accessibility of these online resources and emphasize that this is an important consideration when choosing a textbook.)
  • Captioned or subtitled videos and transcribed audio is to be used wherever possible. Review your audio and video content for accessibility. If a video lacks captioning, check to see if a captioned version exists or look for an equivalent video that contains captions. Check your videos for visual information that is not provided in the audio track (e.g., foreign language translation subtitles). These videos may need video description or need to be accompanied by a descriptive transcript. For more information, contact Library Accessibility Services.

Fully Accessible Course Materials*

Fully accessible course materials include the following:

  • Instructor-created documents, handouts and presentation slides
  • Articles posted to CourseLink
  • Alternative text on all images—a useful tool to describe images for students who may have a visual impairment (Alternative text can be added to images in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint as well as to images within files created in CourseLink.)
  • Presentation slides and handouts are prepared for sharing in advance of the lecture for which they are required
  • Course video—captioned, described or accompanied by a descriptive transcript as required
  • Audio resources are accompanied by a text transcript
  • Online exercises and web resources accompanying textbooks
  • Any software that is used in a course—screen reader-accessible, or an accessible alternative has been identified and provided

*Please note that, depending upon a student’s need, not all these requirements may need to be implemented.