Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Accessible Library Instruction


  • Adjust expectations: e.g. do classes need to be synchronous? Does attendance need to be graded? 
  • Proactively engage with students. Encourage them to come to you with accessibility concerns and be flexible in addressing concerns raised.
  • Define terms and acronyms. Avoid unnecessary jargon.
  • Provide your contact information by email and verbally if possible. Allow students to submit questions by email and outside of class time, if teaching synchronously.
  • If asked for services you can't reasonably provide, refer students to appropriate channels for more help. The Centre for Accessibility is able to provide accommodations on a larger scale
  • If a student appears to be in crisis, ask how you can help. If they are hesitant or refuse help, seek out the advice of appropriate campus experts. In an emergency, seek help immediately.
  • Allow the use of assistive tools like calculator, dictionary, computer or word processor, and memory aids when possible.
  • Communicate important procedural changes verbally and in writing if possible.
  • Use examples relevant to people of diverse backgrounds. Do not assume students understand examples based on educational, cultural/ pop cultural references without explanation.

Create a Respectful Learning Environment

  • Encourage students to raise accessibility concerns. Ensure them that any conversations are strictly confidential.
  • Establish ground rules.
  • Address microaggressions.
  • Use inclusive language and don’t use negative stereotypes.
  • Consider mobility devices part of a person’s space. Allow students to control their own mobility devices.
  • For long conversations after class, consider relocating to a space comfortable for students.

Lesson Planning

  • Limit single lessons to one topic if possible. If not, clearly indicate when topics are changing.
  • Identify clear learning outcomes. They should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
  • Start with overview “big picture”. Give an outline of the presentation. Provide checkpoints throughout, and end with a summary.
  • Break content into manageable and intuitive chunks.
  • Consider using active breaks to divide long sessions. Studies show attention spans are generally 20-25 minutes or less.
  • Use signposting (e.g. “this supports the idea that”) to link different points in a lesson.
  • Identify and express essential content. Make key points stand out by, for example, repeating verbally, emphasizing in text etc.
  • Use multiple media (video, audio, lecture, cartoon, graph, etc.) to convey information. See learning materials section to ensure these are accessible
  • Promote interaction and collaboration. If group work is expected, help form groups.

Learning Activities

  • Align activities to accurately measure learning outcomes. As much as possible, minimize non-essential learning. For example, don't aks students to use new technology if they can meet the learning objectives without using it.
  • Use a variety of activity types to encourage student interaction.
  • Create multiple options for completing activities if possible. Allow responses in multiple media (written, verbal) if possible.
  • Consider staged tasks that build on previous attempts.
  • If possible, outline types of required participation in advance and encourage students to contact you if they have concerns.
  • Provide clear instructions.
  • Ensure adequate time for activities. Don’t time activities unless necessary.
  • Allow activities to be completed outside of class time if time constraints are present.
  • Consider making activities low-stakes/ optional.
  • If content is graded, provide a clear outline of how grades will be assigned.
  • Consider self and peer evaluation.
  • Consider using pre-tests.
  • Provide constructive feedback. Don’t be vague or overly critical, suggest ways to improve and highlight the learner’s strengths.
  • Offer feedback at point of need, and if possible, at frequent points.
  • Do not penalize risk taking or alternate approaches.
  • Encourage discussion. If using group activities, help form groups.