Quick Start – practical help for making inclusive teaching materials

“Accessibility – Essential for some,
better for all”

10-minute jump start

Guide to Learning and assistive technology (Word) (PDF)

Getting Started (Printable)- Inclusive teaching Guide (Word) (PDF)


Icon for offfice templatesSimplified accessible templates pack (Zip 6mb) – UoD branded template PPT,  Word


Microsoft Accessibility fundamentals course is a more in-depth assessed course with badged accreditation

Continue to read through the page for more in-depth and background information around inclusive teaching material

Have a question or need support for making or delivering inclusive digital practice please email help4u@dundee.ac.uk where CITL, Web and UoD-IT Services will respond

At present Neil Bowie in UoD-IT is leading a working group on digital accessibility and can be contacted through help4u@dundee.ac.uk



  1. Why inclusive learning and teaching?
  2. POUR – 4 principles of accessible digital content
  3. Legislation & Regulation
  4. Accessibility Fundamentals across all Course Materials
  5. How to make Online Teaching Materials (Word, PowerPoint, Videos) inclusive
  6. Video material & live video captioning
  7. Audit teaching content with Blackboard Ally
  8. Reading Lists
  9. Assessments
  10. Making numerical based subjects accessible
  11. Further support

1 Why inclusive learning and teaching?

Higher Education is more diverse than it has ever been. We know that different groups of students have different rates of completion and attainment. We need to ensure that learning, teaching and assessment does not disadvantage any groups of students and allows all students to reach their potential. We also have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled students in all aspects of their University experience, including access to the online learning environment.

This advice aims to support the inclusion of disabled students as well as other student groups; such as international students, carers and care providers, socioeconomically disadvantaged students who may need to work and distance learning students.

Inclusive teaching respects the diversity of students, enables all students to take part, ensures different student learning needs are met and removes barriers that prevent students from learning.

Accessibility is about removing barriers to enable participation for all.

Within the university, disabled students may have an adjustment report which details the impact of their disability on study and recommends reasonable adjustments to teaching and assessment which will remove barriers and reduce this impact.

Many of the recommended adjustments relate directly to accessibility. Having accessible teaching and assessment improves the learning experience for all and can reduce the need for individual adjustments.

The social model of disability

The medical model considers the individuals to be disabled, that is ‘less able’, as a consequence of their medical condition. The social model of disability recognizes that disabled people are disabled not by their impairments or health conditions but by disabilist attitudes and by organizational and physical barriers in society.

The social model of disability recognizes that digital one-way, one-medium teaching and learning, producing the knowledge that’s supposed to be absorbed in one medium, may not be effective for all persons.

The following three videos provide insight into the social model from three different groups:

2 POUR – 4 principles of accessible digital content

Introduction to accessibility (video 3.08) & Pour principles

In order to be accessible, digital content should be Perceivable (video 1.26), Operable (video 1.26), Understandable (video 1.22) and Robust (video 1.16). The duty to provide reasonable adjustments is anticipatory.

We will not know the requirements of all of our students, some may complete all assignments through voice-input, others may require to use a screen reader or magnification software, and others may only be able to work in short bursts before taking a break. Accessible content enables all to access the content with no loss of information.

3 Legislation & Regulation

Although legally required, the guiding principle should be to enable access to education for all. Detailed information and guidance available at  JISC – Accessibility regulations – what you need to know

4 Accessibility Fundamentals across all Course Materials

Structure – Use Styles in MS Word (Heading1, 2, etc.) to help students navigate the content. In PowerPoint, use the Title box for slide titles and make sure these are unique. This will improve the experience for any student using a screen-reader and will improve readability for all.

Formatting – Sans serif fonts (Arial, Calibri, etc.) are easier to read than serif fonts. Font size should be 11-12 pt. as a minimum. PowerPoint slides should ideally use a minimum of 20 pt. font

Links – Great for navigation but for students using screen readers avoid only using the URL and instead add descriptive text to the link so this is read out to the student.

Colour –Avoid using colour as the sole means of conveying information. – Use Dashs- patterns, labels, shapes, spacing differences  Some colour combinations are problematic for people with colour vision deficiencies(1 in 12 males). Try to avoid using green/red, blue/purple and light green/yellow combinations. Ensure that images and diagrams have good contrast and avoid overlaying text on patterned backgrounds.

Images and Labelling Alternative Text – If your document has images then they must have an alternative text which describes the image often referred to as alt text. This allows blind and visually impaired students using screen reading software to understand the information in the image. This is particularly important when the image is intended to convey essential information.

5 How to make Online Teaching Materials (Word, PowerPoint, Videos) inclusive


  • Prioritise accessibility of new and updated teaching materials
  • Where possible ensure teaching material is provided in advance of teaching ( recommended 2 weeks or more, minimum 48 hours)
  • Updates and minor changes can be sent or distributed closer to the time of teaching.
  • Ensure My Dundee modules are consistently formatted and
  • Why? – Some students require time in advance to read and process the material so they can concentrate on the lecture and process additional information and explanations. Students may adapt the material before the session to enable effective note-taking strategies or need to share this with an assign language interpreter to review in advance or for remote interpreters to prepare and learn new language and concepts.
  • Provide teaching material in the original (e.g. Word, PPT, Latex) and PDF or ePUB
    • Why? – The original format provides the best chance for the student to change the presentation of the information to suit their learning style. PDF & ePub is widely supported across most smart devices and does not disadvantage those that have older or cheaper technology
      • Note Not all PDFs are accessible to disabled users. –
        • Quick test:
          • Can you copy the text into a word processor
          • Can you zoom in and the text does not pixelate
          • Can you view it on a mobile screen without horizontal scrolling (does the text reflow similar to kindle eBook when font size is increased)
    • Does it have meaningful navigation (Table of contents) on the side panel

Word Accessibility

Use Microsoft Word Styles and Accessibility features


Self -directed learning for word

If you are new or require a refresher to styles, alt text and accessible word creation, follow a self-paced guide available in the simplified accessible templates pack (Zip 6mb)

PowerPoint Accessibility

  • Use light coloured (not white) background and dark foreground text
  • Use a minimum of size 20pt text
  • Place additional text and diagram descriptions in the speaker’s notes section
  • add Alt text to images used in the slide – Microsoft support – Add Alternative Text to an image
  • Use PowerPoint auto live captioning for live presentations -note the captions are not saved
  • Run Microsoft Powerpoint accessibility checker before uploading

Self -directed learning

If you are new or require a refresher to accessible PowerPoint, follow a self-paced guide Simplified accessible templates pack (Zip 6mb)

PDF Material

  • Not all PDF documents are the same. Like e-books, there many different versions;
    • Some PDFs are created using old software
    • Companies other than adobe can make PDFs
    • Some PDF files are images of text
    • Some use copy protection

Guide to checking if your PDF is accessible

6 Video material & live video captioning

When to use captioning/BSL

See the guide on when to use BSL, Human captions, auto-captioning for video and live video events.

Live presenting

  • Consider using Microsoft live present -PowerPoint 0365 (Safari browser not support)
    • Analyses your PPT content to improve captioning accuracy
    • The participant can read live subtitles in their preferred language
  • BB Collaborate  turn on autocaptioing
  • Teams turn on captions (only works for pre-scheduled meeting and events, not chat meetings)

How to edit and turn on auto-captioning for videos

How to integrate captioning for live events

  • Blackboard Collaborate with Human captioning
    • In collaborate, session select the option to ‘create a guest link’.
      • This guest link can then be sent to the remote captioner/supplier or person requiring captioning
        • UoD has a working relationship with Ai-Media, please invite via email to coordinators.uk@ai-media.tv as soon as possible
          • Include basic event details(and the person it is required for) for them to match up bookings and accounts
          • Please note funding of the service is required
            • Typically funding is in place for students who have the  recommendation in their teaching adjustments
      •  Once the Captioner joined the session, the session moderator can change that person’s settings to give them access to the live closed captioning.
      • Support (How to use blackbird collaborate – contact CITL on help4u@dundee.ac.uk). Captioning Account management( disability@dundee.ac.uk)
      • Disability Services remote captioning guide(doc) on live captioning
    • Microsoft Teams
      • Integration is not possible, See the guide for alternative solutions or seek advice from help4u@dundee.ac.uk.
      • Invite the captioner to the session and captions will be provided via a separate webpage
        • UoD has a working relationship with Ai-Media, please invite via email to coordinators.uk@ai-media.tv as soon as possible
          • Include basic event details(and the person it is required for) for them to match up bookings and accounts
          • Please note funding of the service is required
            • Typically funding is in place for students who have the  recommendation in their teaching adjustments
        • Other Platforms
          • Other platforms may provide integration for captioning.
    • Work Arounds for live teaching events
      • The person requiring captioning can share their video stream with Ai-Media via zoom. This introduces a delay. (The content is streamed from the presenter to the participant and then duplicated onwards to Ai-Media via zoom where a live text transcript is provided on a separate website. This setup requires 3 live connections over participants broadband and 3 applications for the participant to manage and should be avoided if possible) 



7 Audit teaching content with Blackboard Ally

8 Reading Lists

  • Can the material be downloaded, is DRM free, enable content to be copied and pasted and viewed in a range of apps/software (i.e the system does not force to use their tool)
  • Books that require Adobe Digital editions are not accessible – if required chose an alternative if possible
  • Books that require the publishers or distributors own system to access content on the balance of probabilities will be inaccessible or present usability barriers.
  • If you find the platform difficult to use, it is likely to be inaccessible


  • Make a reading list using the Library system UoD Library – Read List
  • For photocopied teaching material( for example chapters of book, newspaper clippings etc), use the library Digitisation Service. They will make such material accessible and CLA compliant UoD Digitisation Service
  • Review the Reading List policy – UoD Policy and guidance on Reading and Resource Lists


  • Factors to consider when selecting reading materials:
  • e-book formats generally offer greater access
  • Materials published post-2009 are more readily available in suitable accessible formats
  • Materials produced by publishers in the EU/Australia overall provide greater access for print disabled people
  • Identify a range of suitable alternative publications and/or resources
  • The Alternative Formats Service will make fully accessible copies of reading material for individual disabled students. As this process can be time-consuming, advance notice of reading lists is helpful.
  • Note -The service does not have the resources to adapt or convert general teaching materials such as PowerPoint slides
  • Custom accessible Office templates(Word, PowerPoint) are available on request

9 Assessment

Inclusive assessment refers to the design and use of fair and effective assessment methods and practices that enable all students to demonstrate what they know, understand and can do.

  • Acknowledge that different assessment methodologies can affect students’ ability to perform e.g. a student who usually types their notes who is less effective when handwriting exam papers or a slow typist who cannot produce a full answer in a given time for online essays.
  • Question yourself if the assessment and marking criteria are testing a valid learning outcome e.g. spelling accuracy may not always be essential.
  • Consider what alternative form of assessments may be possible for students who are unable to complete the assessment due to disability, personal circumstances or location. Changes to teaching and assessment during the COVID19 lockdown situation provides examples of flexibility in usual practice.
  • Online assessment platforms
  • QMP and exam Online may be inaccessible to some disabled students as assistive software is not always compatible with such platforms
  • Always give students formative examples of a similar format and style before the exams. This will enable issues to be identified early and can be address
  • Remember to check Learning & Teaching adjustments to ensure extra time, adapted exam paper, the location has been accommodated for.
  • Consider how you can make an alternative assessment paper if needed, such as an accessible Word version of the same questions or alternative format that assesses the same learning outcomes.

10 Making numerical based subjects accessible

Making number/Maths based subjects accessible requires additional thought and information. Early discussions on creating a practical working group began in July 2020, if you wish to get involved please contact Andy McMahon azmcmahon@dundee.ac.uk.

11 Further support

If you need further advice, please contact disability@dundee.ac.uk or CTIL can advise on the use of Yuja and my.dundee blackboard ally

Information for Students

Disability Services has created guidance for disabled students on using assistive technology for online assessments and is providing related support, including through Teams events. Further information from:


Alternative formats Staff – Training documentation

Staff at the university should go to the alternative formats training resource to learn how to adapt many types of material.