Learning is best when content is accessible for all. This can be accomplished by applying Universal Design for Learning (UDL) when creating course content, such as class readings, videos, or online meetings.

This page will provide information and resources to help instructors build a class with UDL in mind. Other areas that can provide information about Universal Design for Learning include the Armacost Library, Canvas and the Office of Academic Success and Disability.

Designing online content Using UDL Principles

Text Recognition (OCR)

Setting up a PDF with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) allows students that utilize text readers or mobile devices to have access to the PDF. Insuring that the PDF is converted to a OCR document allows better interaction with the text in that people can now Search within the document, Select text in the document, Highlight text for better note taking, and Listen to the text.    

You can convert a PDF into an OCR PDF through:

Readable Documents

For all students readable text is important for comprehension. To provide readable texts to students it is best to supply good quality digital documents, in the place of scanned documents. You can find digital documents through the Armacost Library by searching the article databases that the University has access to or use the Interlibrary Loan program to retrieve sources from other Libraries.

camparing a bad document scan to a good document. Points out wrinkles, bad croping, and book creases on the Bad scan. On the good notes clarity and the ablity to Highlight,

If the document can not be found through the library or is only available through physical text here are some tips for creating a clean PDF scan.

  • Scan directly as a PDF.
  • Avoid wrinkled pages, pages with tears, smudges, excess notes, or distorted text.
  • If possible, use an OCR feature on the scanner.
  • Scan books and other documents one page at a time. Using the Book scanner in the library may help with this.
  • When scanning pages side by side be mindful of the curve of the page. As the curve could create an unreadable document. Using the Book scanner in the library may help with this.
  • Scan at a high resolution, 300 pixels or more.
  • Crop the pages so that they can be easily printed on a 8.5 x 11 page without cropping text.
  • Avoid handwritten notes or non-standard fonts as OCR readers will not be able to translate them, or students might not be able to read them.

Captioning Videos

Captioning and transcribing videos benefits viewers that are unable to hear the audio, in a noisy location, would like to search the videos text, and/or want to check the spelling of the words. With some limitations* Teams and Kaltura can help create machine generated captioning and transcriptions for your videos.


  • Live Captioning. In a class meeting the Live Closed Captioning feature will allow individual users the ability to get machines generated captions during the meeting.
  • Recorded Meetings. When you record a scheduled meeting the system automatically creates captions and a transcript of the meeting. A user could then edit the transcript using stream (where the videos are stored) so that spelling is accurate.


  • When uploading or recording a video with Kaltura the system will automatically generate captions for the video. These captions can be edited by the user to insure spelling and the text is accurate.


* Limitations include English only captioning and inaccuracy of machine generated text.

Welcome Access Statement

A thoughtful statement on your website or Canvas initial page that describes your  intention in making your online presence accessible is important.  

Here is an example from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock:

“Usability, Access and Design; I am committed to creating a course  that is inclusive and accessible. If you are encountering barriers, please let me know immediately so we can determine if a design adjustment can be made. I am glad to consider creative solutions as long as they do not compromise the learning goals.”


Simple and consistent navigation helps visitors move throughout your course and site. Here are some tips that can help.

  • Provide a table of contents on the first page
  • Be mindful of how people will navigate your course. With link descriptions clearly stated.
    • Good: Writing Good Link Descriptions
    • Bad: Click Here for information on link descriptions
  • The fewer clicks needed to access content the better
  • Pages should be simple, clean, consistent, and well-organized
  • Make sure links can be controlled by keyboard navigation, or without the need of a mouse.


Clear and readable text assists users in understanding your documents and webpages.

  • Use Fonts like Arial and Helvetica as they are useful for individuals with low vision. Beyond these fonts there are others available for download a purchase online designed to help different groups. These included APHont font and a dyslexia font.
  • Make sure the font size is large enough to read comfortably from a 15-inch distance.
  • Limit the placing of text inside graphics as these images are difficult to read with various software.


The color of text and images on a document or page can affect the readability of the text. Some topics to think about when using color are:

  • Providing good color contrasts, with black text on a white or light background is the best. You can check color contrast using this website.
  • Graphics or patterns behind text can be difficult for accessibility tools to read.
  • When creating a HTML document consider using flexible options for color visibility.
  • Do not use only color to differentiate headings and subheadings as these color changes may not be visible to some readers.


Images while useful in conveying information may not be accessible to all students. When adding a image to a site it is good to provide descriptive text along with it. This text call alt text can be read by the end user and screen reading tools. When making alt text provide a good description of the image including what you want the reader to understand about the image.

Various tools allow the end user to easily add text to images when added.

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