The Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning is an advocate of inclusive teaching practices and strongly supports the University’s accessibility policy, which includes digital course materials. We partner with instructors to assess and improve the accessibility of course activities and digital resources.
What characterizes an accessible course?
An accessible course presents as few obstacles as possible to the diversity of Yale learners. The greater the accessibility, the more likely that all students will have equitable opportunities for learning and growth.
When designing a course for accessibility, we encourage instructors to begin with an appreciation of the diversity of our students. Enrolled students may include someone who uses a wheelchair, students with low vision or limited hearing, a student who cannot easily hold a book or take notes by hand, a student with dyslexia or an attention disorder, and students with temporary disabilities like concussions or broken arms. With this diversity in mind, instructors should consider these three questions:
- Can all of my students access and benefit from the websites and digital files I use to share information, including those students who use screen readers to listen to the resource rather than look at it?
- Will all of my potential students be able to participate in core class activities, regardless of their physical ability?
- Can students demonstrate their mastery of learning goals without confronting unnecessary obstacles that may discriminate against some of them unfairly?
The goal is to provide flexible and robust learning environments in which all students can thrive without the need for special accommodations.
Finding support on campus
The staff of the Poorvu Center, in partnership with Information Technology Services, the University Library, and local support providers in Yale’s professional schools, offer a range of services to help Yale instructors consider and improve the accessibility of their courses. Please see our list of Course Accessibility Support Contacts.
Getting started: Top accessibility tips for instructors
We encourage instructors to approach accessibility as an ongoing and iterative process of improvement: even a small step forward in accessibility will enable students to focus more on learning and less on overcoming obstacles. Where to begin? The Poorvu Center’s Course Accessibility FAQ offers a quick overview of Yale’s accessibility guidelines for teaching and learning, plus answers to questions we often hear from instructors. The eight tips listed below, while not a comprehensive checklist for accessible classes, provide initial guidance for instructors who aim to make their teaching more inclusive and accessible.