Resources for Accessible Teaching

The NIU Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning has compiled the following information and resources for faculty regarding accessible instruction. This webpage includes NIU based resources as well as general resources categorized as Pedagogy, Technology, Legislation, Guidelines, and Accessibility and Learning Management Systems. Development of this webpage is ongoing, with new resources added regularly, so feel free to visit often.

NIU Resources

Disability Resource Center

Formerly the Center for Access-Ability Resources, advocates accessible opportunities by providing a wide range of support services tailored to the individual student, including admissions arrangements, auxiliary aids (interpreters, note takers, readers, etc.), books in alternative formats, advising/counseling, adapted equipment/computers, special residence hall arrangements, etc. Information about the Center can be found at and 815-753-1303.

University Libraries Services for People with Disabilities

The goal of Access and Public Services is to offer specialized library-use assistance to any person with any kind of disability who wishes to use library materials and other resources. Assistance will be specifically tailored to the needs of the individual. Assistive equipment is available in a specialized study room. Information about services offered can be found at

NIU Accessible Technology Policy

This policy applies to all NIU electronic information technology (EIT) for academic and administrative purposes and university programs, services, and activities. This includes but is not limited to enterprise applications, Internet and software applications, digital course materials, video and multimedia materials and equipment such as copiers and printers.

Accessible Course Materials

Recommendations and links to guides on creating course materials that are accessible.

Create an Accessible Syllabus in Word

Follow these recommended steps for creating an accessible syllabus in Microsoft Word.

Syllabus Accessibility Statement

Accessibility statement endorsed by NIU Presidential Commission on Persons with Disabilities, which faculty are encouraged to include in their syllabi.

Universal Design for Learning Part I: Multiple Means of Engagement

Are you looking for new ways to connect with students and engage them in your classes? Have you wondered about techniques for motivating students in your classes? During the first session of the new 3-part online workshop series we introduce the concepts of universal design for learning, which focus on designing instruction that is usable by all students.

Universal Design for Learning Part II: Multiple Means of Representation

During the second session of the 3-part online workshop series, we continue our discussion of the concepts of universal design for learning and discuss strategies for devising multiple ways of representing content.

Universal Design for Learning Part III: Multiple Means of Action and Expression

During the third session of the 3-part online series, we conclude our discussion of the concepts of universal design for learning and share srategies for providing multiple ways for learners to organize, plan and perform course activities, as well as express their ideas.


AccessDL (National Center on Accessible Distance Learning)

This University of Washington website provides guidance and resources on making distance learning courses accessible to students and instructors with disabilities.

Applications of Universal Design

Promotes the use of universal design principles to create a more accessible and usable world

Best Practices for Designing Accessible Websites, Software and Content

Provides resources to accessible websites and software, accessible course materials, verifying compliance, and validating code. Other resources include references to paper books, electronic books, and research articles.

Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for designing curricula that enable all individuals to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. UDL provides rich supports for learning and reduces barriers to the curriculum while maintaining high achievement standards for all.

Equal Access: Universal Design of Distance Learning

Presents legal issues and standards for accessibility, universal design, and ten indicators for accessible distance learning programs

Equal Access: Universal Design of Instruction (Video)

How to make instruction in a classroom or in a tutoring center accessible to all students.

The Division of Disability Resources & Educational Services

University of Illinois website listing online courses on accessibility, ADA/Accessibility Boot camp, Firebug Accessibility Evaluator, Seminar for Improving Accessibility for All: Using Universal Design for Media, Mobile Devices, and the Web.

Illinois IT Accessibility Initiative: ITaccess, University of Illinois

A compilation of accessibility resources and facts for faculty and staff when creating web sites, course materials and online documents. Training tutorials, best practices, links to DRES resources, tools for evaluation and requirements of the IITAA are all covered.

PDF Accessibility and Usability Issues (Video)

Sean Keegan, a premier expert on document and web accessibility, addresses usability and accessibility issues of the PDF, strategies for the creation of accessible electronic documents, and the appropriate use of software applications to ensure accessibility of web documents.

Real Connections: Making Distance Learning Accessible to Everyone (Video)

Video presentation providing guidelines for designing Internet-based distance learning courses to fully include all students, including those with disabilities. The presentation is open-captioned and audio-described to assure access to the content for viewers who are deaf or blind, respectively.

Universal Design and Online Accessibility (Video)

An informative discussion on the value of Universal Design in Learning and Online Accessibility.

Web Accessibility - A World Denied (Video)

This Trailer introduces the SOCITM / AbilityNet DVD on web Accessibility - Access to the web for people with a disability - the full DVD is available from


7 Things You Should Know about E-Readers (PDF)

Educause explores the pros and cons of this evolving technology

Accessible Technology

The following resources provide information about assistive technology, accessible technology design, and the design of technology spaces.

Accessibility Features in Firefox (PDF)

Assistive technology support on Windows

AccessIT (National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education)

Promotes the use of electronic and information technology (E&IT) for students and employees with disabilities in educational institutions at all academic levels.

AccessSTEM (Alliance for Access to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Assists K-12 teachers, postsecondary educators, and employers make classroom and employment opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) accessible to individuals with disabilities, and provides a place to share promising practices

AccessSTEM Knowledge Base

Enter search text "audio description" for listing of responses to queries including 'How can people who are blind access video and multimedia products?', 'What legal issues are associated with access to video products for students with sensory impairments?' and 'How can I ensure that a student who is deaf can access the content in my podcast?'

AccessSTEM Knowledge Base (enter search text "caption as")

A knowledge base for answers to common questions, case studies, and promising practices regarding how precollege and college educators can make science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses and programs accessible to students with disabilities.

Adobe Accessibility Resources Center

Features accessibility products, case studies, best practices, tutorials, accessibility blog, and information for users with disabilities.

Closing the Gap Resource Directory

Provides parents and educators alike, the information and training necessary to locate, compare, and implement assistive technology

Creating Video and Multimedia Products that are Accessible to People with Sensory Impairments

University of Washington website describes the process and issues associated with enhancing accessibility of multimedia content

EASI (Equal Access to Software and Information)

Provider of online training on accessible information technology for persons with disabilities

Microsoft Edge Accessibility Tutorials

These tutorials provide step by step instructions for Inclusion in action, guides to find information and tips for using accessibility features in Microsoft products and additional resources.

National Captioning Institute

The National Captioning Institute (NCI) was established in 1979 as a nonprofit corporation with the mission of ensuring that deaf and hard of hearing people, as well as others who can benefit from the service, have access to television's entertainment and news through the technology of closed captioning.

National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)

Links to a variety of resources including specialized captioning software, guidelines/tools/recommendations, and examples of rich media

National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education

AccessIT promotes the use of electronic and information technology (E&IT) for students and employees with disabilities in educational institutions at all academic levels

Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America

Professional society for individuals and organizations interested in technology and disability. RESNA contributes to the public welfare through scientific, literary, professional and educational activities by supporting the development, dissemination, and utilization of knowledge and practice pertaining to rehabilitation and assistive technology so that all citizens can achieve the highest quality of life.

Safari Features

Learn about the 200 + innovative features available in Safari including Accessibility.

Snow (Special Needs Ontario Window) Adaptive Technology

Overview of resources, reviews, and links pertaining to adaptive technologies

Technology and Universal Design

The following resources provide information about assistive technology, accessible technology design, and the design of technology spaces.

Web Accessibility Center at the Ohio State University

This website presents a range of accessible-related topics including captioning YouTube videos, providing accessible playback controls, creating accessible PDFs, captioning Flash web video and video for iPod, and utilizing JW player controls for accessible Flash web video.

Working Together: People with Disabilities and Computer Technology (Video)

This video presentation provides an overview of adaptive technology and computer applications for people with disabilities.


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Home Page (Federal)

List variety of resources including ADA design standards, information line, the technical assistance program, enforcement, code certification, new or proposed regulations, and the ADA Mediation program.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (Federal)

List the current text of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 [ADA], including changes made by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-325), which became effective on January 1, 2009.

Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act of 2008 IITAA Standards (State)

The Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act (IITAA) requires Illinois agencies and universities to ensure that their web sites, information systems, and information technologies are accessible to people with disabilities.

Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) – Assistive Technology Standards (Federal)

RESNA is a standards developing organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America – Resources and Definitions (Federal)

Provides a number of resources and definitions from the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society

Section 508 (Federal)

Resources for understanding and implementing Section 508

Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990 (Federal)

Describes the Act requiring new televisions to have built in decoder circuitry.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Federal)

In the Matter of Implementation of Section 305 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 NPRM on Closed Captioning and Video Description of Video Programming, Video Programming Accessibility (MM Docket No. 95-176)


Functional Accessibility Evaluator (FAE)

Evaluate the functional accessibility of a single web page

HEATH Resource Center at the National Youth Transitions Center

The HEATH Resource Center of The George Washington University, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, is an online clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities.

IMS Guidelines for Developing Accessible Learning Applications

Resources on a range of accessibility issues, including a primer on accessibility, principles for accessibility in online distributed learning, using XML for accessibility, and guidelines for accessible delivery of text, audio, images, and multimedia

Simple Tips for Website Accessibility

Practical tips for making a website, that includes audio, video, images, and text, more accessible

W3C, Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

Web site provides introduction to accessibility, guidelines and techniques, and managing/evaluating accessibility. WAI develops guidelines widely regarded as the international standard for Web accessibility

WebAIM - (Web Accessibility in Mind)

Resources for accessibility training, evaluation, design & delivery, as well as solutions for education. Also includes feature articles on evaluating web accessibility, and comments from the WebAIM Blog

Learning Management Systems

Blackboard and Accessibility

Blackboard products are designed and developed in accordance with the internationally recognized Web Content Accessibility (WCAG) Guidelines 2.0 Level AA as well as the Section 508 standards in the United States. A third party conducts regular audits of our software to ensure quality expectations are met and maintained.

A closer look at accessibility at Blackboard

Blackboard is committed to delivering accessible products and working with our clients to create inclusive educational experiences for everyone. Understanding that a digital accessibility program encompasses so much more than technology, we approach accessibility by looking at the platforms - Learn, Collaborate and Moodlerooms - the content going into client courses, and consultation opportunities to help you better understand accessibility across the entire student experience.

Using JAWS Screen Reader with Blackboard

Blackboard offers a number of resources to aid users of JAWS screen readers in using Blackboard.

Additional information or resources?

Do you have an additional resource to share with NIU faculty? Email the URL, title, and brief description of suggested resources to for consideration.

Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning staff are available for consultations on strategies for accessible teaching and can be reached at 815-797-2477 or

Contact Us

Center for Innovative
Teaching and Learning

Phone: 815-753-0595

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