The Role of the Learning Management System in Accessibility

At TCU we currently use Brightspace by D2L (TCU Online) as our learning management system (LMS). The LMS plays a major role in accessibility. In online courses, this is the main platform through which students access content facilitated and provided by the instructor. It is important that institutions start with an LMS that meets accessibility standards so that all courses start off as accessible at the most basic level. Brightspace by D2L meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AAA standards for web accessibility.

Structures that are set up behind the scenes in the LMS influence whether or not all students are able to effectively access and use course content. Some examples of structures that are built into an LMS for accessibility are:

  • The ability to navigate using the keyboard
  • The ability to format text with a hierarchy structure
  • The inclusion of alternate text (alt text) fields when including an image
  • The ability to chunk information into cohesive segments that do not rely solely on visual clues

Once content is added to the course, care must be taken to ensure that the course continues to be accessible. Starting off with the right features does not guarantee accessibility once an outside tool or document is added to the course. Time should be taken to follow some simple, recommended practices of for accessibility.

Accessibility and Accommodation Considerations

All people learn differently, you may consider ways to organize and facilitate your course that support the learning needs and styles of all users. Your learning materials need to effectively engage, educate, evaluate, and accommodate diverse learners. It may be helpful to consider the following:

Addressing Accommodations in TCU Online

For questions about accommodations, please contact TCU Student Access & Accommodations.

Extended Time

Accommodations Tool

  • Instructors can set quiz time extensions and multipliers which will persist across all quizzes for a student in a course. This is useful to streamline setting up accommodations for all quizzes per student, rather than remembering to manually do this for each quiz. Learn more on the Grant Quiz Accommodations from the Classlist page.

Adjust Timelines for Activities with Special Access

Using Special Access, Instructors can allow specific groups of students extended deadlines for assignments, surveys, or quizzes. The links below will guide you through managing these in your TCU Online courses.

  • Assignments – Add Special Access to an Assignment
  • Discussions: A note about Discussions: Discussions are asynchronous by nature, meaning that students typically are asked to respond over the course of a few days to a prompt that was created for them in advance. Since students will all have several days to respond, often special accommodations are not needed, unless the student is unable to participate during the set timeframe. In essence, the student will need an extension, not an accommodation. Learn more about adjusting dates for Discussions.
  • Quizzes – Grant Special Access for Quizzes – In Special Access for Quizzing, instructors can allow students additional or additional/unlimited attempts at a quiz. This is useful for setting accommodations for a single quiz per student. To set accommodations for all quizzes for a student, review the Grant Quiz Accommodations from the Classlist page.
  • Surveys – Add Special Access to a Survey

Provide Accessible Course Materials

Instructors can upload course materials (e.g. powerpoint, in-class materials, assignment instructions, videos, etc.) into their TCU Online courses so students can download, print them out, or view multiple times. These course materials uploaded into or linked to from within a course should be in an accessible format.

Review these guides for making accessible content in the following software/tools:

Page Reading

ReadSpeaker is integrated throughout TCU Online including a separate listen button for each quiz question in the Quizzes tool.

ReadSpeaker products are text-to-speech products that go beyond providing the oral presentation of the material. They also provide highlighting of the words/sentences, page masking, a reading ruler, aid in proofing papers, ability to enlarge text, change fonts to Open Dyslexic font, change background/text colors, and more. ReadSpeaker audio can be listened to on or offline.

Learn more about ReadSpeaker.

Note: This tool is dependent on the content being created in an accessible format.

Review these guides for making accessible content in the following software/tools:

Guidelines for Creating Accessible Content within TCU Online

As you develop your content, use the accessibility guidelines below and learn how to make the elements accessible.

  • Use the HTML Templates
  • Use the Accessibility Checker
  • Text
  • Headings
  • Lists
  • Images and Graphics (including Graphs, Maps & Shapes)
  • Links
  • Color
  • Tables
  • Flashing/Blinking Content
  • Interactive Elements, Forms & Buttons
  • Math and Science equations/formulas/notation

Learn more about how to Create Accessible Content within TCU Online.

Additional Resources