Points of Access

UDL is not Accessibility, But It Tastes Good

Improved Education

UDL TeamworkUniversal design for learning is a strategy for building improved education for students. It includes three main concepts: the representation of educational content, the interaction with educational content, and lastly the expression from student back showing they have learned the content. This does not mean that the content is accessible to everyone, it means that there is a greater or distributed effort made in designing educational content to work with everyone.

Universal design is the design of products and environments to be useable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without need for adaption or specialized design.

-Ron Mace

Accessibility often has to do with overcoming obstacles. Content that is graphic becomes an obstacle for someone who cannot see graphics. Oral speech whether in an audio file or video file is an obstacle for those who cannot hear content. UDL is much more than just removing obstacles. It is a form of education that provides different routes to the content, different means of interacting with the content, and the ability to express that one has learned the content in different ways.

What is significant about UDL is that it opens the conversation with educators regarding the accessibility of their content. However, this indirect line of discussion will cover insuring that more access will exist for course content. That does not mean that everyone will be able to use UDL designs to make their courses accessible. There is plenty of software, webpages, apps and other digital content that is not going to present effectively to everyone depending on their disability.

Moreover, UDL gives students the opportunity to learn and express what they’ve learned. This improves student engagement with educational content in a university setting. When you make content available in multiple expressions, then you open the door to greater understanding for students and the ability of students to access that content in a format they like or need. Improved education is the goal: not accessibility.

When faculty decide to use videos with captioning, the thought is not about accessible content for the deaf and hard of hearing, but rather for anyone who is reviewing that content. I do not need to go into any detail about how captions are read by nondisabled students.

Obstacles will still exist even though universal design for learning principles have been used in the design of a course. When someone uses braille, they may still need assistance with graphical content. Books from publishers that are turned into alternative formats most likely will not have images described were all tags. Some materials are better in braille, and others are better as an audio file for people who are blind. Multiple formats for all, doesn’t necessarily compute as accessibility for all.  Some elements of UDL will still require adaptation for those who are disabled.

Faculty in American universities are so use to the accommodations model that has been around for over 25 years, that when they hear disability, they turn to the disability service support office. They don’t consider what they can do in designing their courses. UDL is the fabric of changing that thinking.

One of the chief benefits of implementing UDL’s is for the nondisabled students at the universities. When multiple formats of educational content are available, students will pick the version of the content that works best on whatever device they are using to read the content: Cell phones, iPads, and other bring your own technologies have driven the demand for multiple formats. The fact that it benefits someone with a disability is just icing on the cake.


Educators fact sheets

UDL at a Glance video

Why We Need Universal Design –Ted Talk from a different perspective.

Universal Design for Learning—Ted Talk  –A Paradigm for Maximum Inclusion

Principles of UDL


Introduction to YouTube Automatic Captioning

YouTube Captioning – a multiple-step process


ITCS is committed to providing accessible technology and educational resources. ECU requires authors of both official and unofficial faculty and staff web sites at “ecu.edu” to comply with accessibility requirements mandated by federal and state law. Accordingly, the university has adopted Web Accessibility Standards based on the Section 508 and W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. By adhering to these guidelines, ECU web resources will be accessible to persons with disabilities, where feasible, or a reasonable accommodation will be offered to qualified persons such as providing alternative formats or auxiliary aids and/or making adjustments.  Visit the Web Publishing and Educational Technologies websites for guidelines and resources to help you create accessible content based on Section 508 guidelines and W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

We recommend maintaining high quality captions according to DCMP standards. Captions may need to include notes for who is speaking, sound effects, and other audio items like music.  If you create YouTube videos and use them for a class, then to create multimodal learning experience you should caption them or if you specifically know that you have a hard of hearing or deaf person in your class.

If you are using a clip from YouTube, that isn’t yours, you may want to contact Michael Thompson, Assistive Technology Consultant for the Division of Student Affairs, for assistance at 737-1020 or via email at thompsonmi@ecu.edu.


Introduction to YouTube Automatic Captioning


When you upload a video to YouTube, you can let YouTube to automatically create captions for your video, but these captions are subpar and inaccurate. You can also create your own transcript which YouTube can make into proper captions.  Or you can upload a caption file (srt format).  The instructions below are specifically designed to help you understand the process of uploading the steps of uploading a transcript of your own making.  If you prefer to watch a video, look at the following: Adding Accurate Captions to a YouTube Video.

Creating and Uploading a Transcript


You may listen to your video and type into a Word the text of the lecture audio content. Experience suggests that you listen to short 4-7 second chunks, before you move on. This transcription can be then be uploaded to replace the automatically generated YouTube Captions.

Here is how to do that in a series of steps.


Steps for Uploading a Transcript


(1) Open you YouTube account and Click Creator Studio

Shows creator studio button

Click Drop down arrow next to the video you want to add the transcript;

(2) Then click the Subtitled & CC selection

Drop down edit showing subtitled & CC selection

Click Select Language, chose English, then click Set Language button

(3) Next you will want to replace the automatically placed captions by click the Add new Subtitles of CC (blue) button.

Add new subtitles button

Click English when offered a choice.

(4) Next you need to choose a Selection Method; Click Upload a File.

Shows upload transcript button

(5) After you go through the navigation to your file and click Upload, you will then see your transcript placed to the right of your video.

set timings

Then you click Set timings

Congratulations, after that, your video should be accessible to all.  The video will also be Universally Designed Learning (UDL), which will improve the ability of students to understand the content.





What’s on the menu?

When creating a website, you should be concerned with what is omenun the menu, how it is structured, and if it is accessible so that everyone can use it.  Some people use no mouse and must rely on how the keyboard navigates through the pages, so keep the focus in focus — you an see the action using the TAB key.  Having rollover code that is also defining the action of the Focus is a good practice.  If someone is using a voice input technology, then making clickable icons large enough for voice-controlled mousing is a  must.  For those using screenreading software do not use html semantic markup in the menu, use that instead for the headings in the actual page.  Links are good enough for the menu.

For an example of a stellar menu design, look at the University of Washington website.  The menu system is right on!  Federal 508 regulations have helped guide the course of university and government web designers in the right direction.  If you want to know what’s on the menu for access on the web, properly semantic markup, structured content and a well designed menu systems are a great place to begin!

u of W front page menu



This blog is designed to help others learn some of the basics of how to make information technology work for everyone.  Concepts of UDL and tools  and techniques for eliminating the barriers to information will be covered.  We hope you enjoy a visit to our blog:

Points of Access