Accessibility in Brightspace

Accessible digital content is any website or tool presented in such a way that it can be navigated, understood, and contributed to with equal ease by users of all abilities.

Course content created with accessibility in mind can help meet the needs of diverse learners and improve learning experiences for all. Designing accessible content must take into account any technological requirements for those who use assistive technology (e.g. webpage code that is readable by screen readers), as well as user interactions and visual design (e.g. font size, contrast, and instructions). 

This page will provide an overview of best practices for creating multimodal course material that helps work towards a more accessible learning experience. You will also find an overview of Brightspace’s built-in accessibility checker and similar tools, links to additional resources and reference materials, and information on where and how to get more assistance.

Creating accessible course content is iterative and can always be improved. 

Individual student accommodations (perhaps those provided by Brock Student Accessibility Services) can be added to specific tools in Brightspace. This article on accommodations in Brightspace provides details and instruction on that topic.



Screen Readers

Users with vision loss use a software tool called a screen reader to read out the text from their screen along. This includes text labels for non-text items. This is sometimes accompanied by a refreshable Braille display to experience the content from the screen reader in Braille via touch.

D2L recommends the following screen readers for use with Brightspace

  • JAWS, the most popular commercial screen reader on Windows devices.

  • NVDA, a free screen reader for Windows devices.  

  • Narrator, a screen reader made by Microsoft and built into Windows computers. 

  • VoiceOver, a screen reader made by Apple and built into Mac computers, iPads, and iPhones. 


Web resources on accessibility

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005

O. Reg. 191/11: INTEGRATED ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS PART II - INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS STANDARDS

Government of Canada - Introduction to Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Design a course with Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Deque University - Digital Accessibility Reference Library

Design Considerations for Disabilities cheat sheet

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

WCAG-EM Website Report Tool

Trauma-Aware Teaching Checklist 

Trauma-Aware Teaching Checklist Google Doc


“Building Accessible Content in Brightspace”

“Building Accessible Content in Brightspace” is a collection of instructional materials created by Kyle Mackie which provides insight into how Brightspace’s various tools can be used to create accessible content. It can be accessed through Brightspace and is open to Brock staff and faculty members.

Follow this link to enroll in the “Building Accessible Content in Brightspace” site and then click Enroll in Course. The course can then be accessed through the Brightspace homepage or the course selector. All materials are in the site’s Content area.


Centre for Pedagogical Innovation

The Centre for Pedagogical Innovation offers a wealth of resources to help instructors with accessible curriculum design, including explanations on and testaments to the benefits of accessible learning.

If instructors wish to meet to discuss designing an accessible curriculum, they can reach out to cpi@brocku.ca.


AODA and Human Rights Training

The content of the “AODA and Human Rights Training” site is a mandatory training component for Brock staff but can continue to offer valuable resources and insights into various accessibility and human rights concerns. Instructors can revisit areas of importance or review the resources offered through the Brightspace site at any time.

Most staff and faculty will already have access, but anyone can enroll or re-enroll in the "AODA and Human Rights Training" site. The course can be accessed through the Brightspace homepage or the course selector.


Brock Human Rights and Equity

The Human Rights and Equity area of Brock University’s website provides general accessibility considerations that should be kept in mind when building a course site. Guiding principles answer the question:

How can you make your teaching and learning more accessible?

Applying three basic principles in your curriculum design, content and delivery can make your course more accessible.

-Provide Multiple Means of Representation (the “what” of learning).

-Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression (the “how” of learning).

-Provide Multiple Means of Engagement (the “why” of learning).


Please contact CPI at edtech@brocku.ca with any questions or comments about the contents of this site.