Vision Australia | Customer Success | D2L
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Vision Australia

A clear vision of learning for all

A significant portion of Vision Australia’s workforce are blind or have low vision, making inclusive training vital.

At a glance

Client: Vision Australia
Learners: 800
Industry: Nonprofit
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  • D2L’s Brightspace platform
  • Accessibility Checker
  • Manager Dashboard
  • Course Builder
  • Quizzes
  • Surveys


  • Dan Casey, Capability Development Manager
  • Laura Hendrey, Learning and Development Coordinator


  • Increases inclusion with full support for accessibility technologies such as screen readers
  • Improves efficiency by enabling managers to track employee learning via real-time dashboards
  • Achieved an 80%+ completion rate for a new module on COVID-19 infection control—higher than any course on Vision Australia’s previous learning management system
Vision Australia Logo


Vision Australia’s employees and volunteers are committed to the organization’s mission to support Australians who are blind or have low vision achieve the possibilities they choose in life. Around 15% of Vision Australia’s workforce are blind or have low vision, so to ensure that everyone can benefit from its training resources, the company is using D2L’s Brightspace platform to deliver highly accessible online courses.

"One of the main things that attracted us to D2L’s Brightspace platform was its rich accessibility options."

Laura Hendrey, Learning and Development Coordinator, Vision Australia


Aiming for better accessibility

Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, Vision Australia empowers people who are blind or have low vision to live the lives they choose. With 800 employees and 2,500 volunteers, the company operates from 26 office locations and 10 agile sites across the country.

Like many future-facing organizations, Vision Australia uses digital technologies to help it onboard new employees and keep existing team members up to date with the skills and competencies they need to perform their roles.

It’s vital for the company’s online training to be accessible for all employees, and around 15% of Vision Australia’s workforce are themselves blind or have low vision.

Dan Casey, Capability Development Manager at Vision Australia, recalls: “Our old learning management system [LMS] lacked the features we needed to achieve our accessibility goals, such as integrating with screen readers.

“It was also difficult to keep track of each learner’s progress—we had to rely on spreadsheets and text documents, which was time-consuming and cumbersome for our managers. From an audit perspective, it was hard to provide real evidence of the competencies that each learner had developed, beyond the fact that they had completed a particular course.”

Laura Hendrey, Learning and Development Coordinator at Vision Australia, continues: “Our old LMS was extremely basic. We wanted a new system that could become a one-stop shop for learning and training for employees of all abilities. With our CEO’s support, we started looking for a new solution.”

man on phone


Selecting a class-leading LMS solution

After reviewing LMS technologies from a number of leading vendors, Vision Australia selected D2L’s Brightspace platform as its new online learning solution.

“One of the main things that attracted us to D2L’s Brightspace platform was its rich accessibility options,” recalls Laura Hendrey. “As well as being compatible with a wide range of screen readers, the built-in Brightspace Accessibility Checker helps us detect potential accessibility issues in our courses automatically. When we found out that leading organizations in our space, such as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, also use Brightspace, the choice was clear.”

Dan Casey adds: “I use the analogy of ordering a vegetarian meal at a restaurant. You’d expect your chef to make your meal from vegetarian ingredients—not just remove the meat from a dish they’d already cooked for someone else.

“It’s the same with an LMS. Accessibility can’t just be an afterthought—you need to build the system to be accessible from the ground up. That’s exactly what D2L has done, and that’s why Brightspace won hands down when it came to accessibility.”

Building rich course content

Since going live with D2L’s Brightspace platform, Vision Australia has used Brightspace Course Builder to design a wide range of course materials for employees, new hires, and volunteers, covering topics such as company orientation, health and safety best practices, and role-specific training.

The team has been impressed with the intuitive and flexible Course Builder tools. Dan Casey comments: “I’ve been really impressed at how easy it is to build learning experiences in the Brightspace platform. The strong support we received from D2L from the initial deployment onward has been extremely helpful, and we are now able to create in-depth, curriculum-driven online classes for the first time.”

"Today the Manager Dashboard gives us a real-time snapshot of everyone’s progress, and our managers can download the data into a report very easily."

Laura Hendrey, Learning and Development Coordinator, Vision Australia


Engaging learners of all abilities

Today, Vision Australia is using the Brightspace platform to make online learning available to people of all abilities, including its 800 employees and its thousands of volunteers across the country.

“Our cohort of staff who are blind or have low vision are a very strong, vocal group on issues of accessibility, and rightly so,” says Laura Hendrey. “Their feedback on the accessibility of the platform is really good. As an example, when we asked for feedback on another online tool that we’ve recently introduced, the response from one of our screen reader users was ‘It’s no Brightspace.’ That’s a good indication that Brightspace is setting the standard for accessibility.”

The company creates, updates, and promotes its courses via the homepage on the Brightspace platform, and is encouraging its employees to check the site for updates as part of their normal workday routine.

She continues: “We’ve been using the announcements at the top of the Brightspace homepage to keep everyone engaged and informed about new additions to the system, and alert them to upcoming due dates for assignments.”

“The reporting capabilities are also very useful. In the past we had no clear insight into how our people were using our online learning resources. Today the Manager Dashboard gives us a real-time snapshot of everyone’s progress, and our managers can download the data into a report very easily. It’s so intuitive that one of our managers told us that they could have learned to use it without needing any training.”

Tackling the COVID-19 crisis

When the COVID-19 crisis hit Australia in early 2020, Vision Australia was quickly able to roll out a health and safety class aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus and keeping its employees safe.

“We released a COVID-19 infection control module via Brightspace within a matter of days and asked our users to upload their certificates to Brightspace, so we can track who has completed it,” explains Laura Hendrey. “To date, the module has a completion rate of over 80%, which is remarkably higher than any of the courses we had in our previous LMS. We also provided some feedback to help the developers of the module make it easier to navigate for users with screen readers.”

Vision Australia also used the Brightspace platform to help its team transition to remote working during the pandemic. It used the survey tool to distribute a working-from-home agreement, which employees could fill out and submit online—avoiding any need to handle the paperwork manually.

man on phone

Ready for the future

Looking to the future, Vision Australia plans to use the Brightspace solution to enhance the services it provides for those who are blind or have low vision in the community.

“We recently started Project Employability, which aims to get young children thinking about their work and career goals as early in their lives as possible,” says Dan Casey. “In the years ahead, we’d love to use the Brightspace platform to provide educational resources to support the work we’re going to do with those families.”

Laura Hendrey concludes: “We’ve seen a massive jump in learning engagement since we deployed the Brightspace platform. The feedback from our employees has been overwhelmingly positive, and there’s no doubt in our minds that the Brightspace solution is going to make an important contribution to improving the lives of those who are blind or have low vision in the years ahead.”

Want to learn more about how D2L’s Brightspace platform supports accessible learning for people who are blind or have low vision? Watch the “Accessibility for every learner at Vision Australia” webinar on demand today.

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Fueling up:

Upskilling to grow careers

Name: Zaria
Age: 27

Policy prescriptions: Invest in a Learning-Integrated Life; Transform the learning of today with new partnerships; Accelerate the shift to skills-based learning and hiring

Zaria has five years of work experience and is ready to change jobs and enter a field that has high growth potential in her region. The national government has been investing in collecting better skills-based labour market information for years and has developed a public platform to offer individuals specialized tools to assess their skills against current market needs, and to locate employers that are currently hiring.

On the employer side, the human resources team is closely examining a recent internal skills audit done at their organization and determines that the organization needs additional digital marketing specialists. They initiate a search for individuals with the skills they will soon need and spot a strong candidate in Zaria who requires only light training on regulatory issues regarding the sale of electric vehicles, along with some formal skills development courses on social media marketing strategy. After a successful interview, Zaria is offered the job.

Upon joining, Zaria will receive an educational benefits stipend from the company, and access to a company-provided platform of curated programs for skills building from approved providers. Upon completion of a set of courses, Zaria will receive a credential from a company approved program verifying her technical knowledge and marking the end of her probationary period at the company. To ensure she continues to build her skills, she will move into a formal mentor program with one of her colleagues to receive continual peer-to-peer feedback on her demonstration of skills and knowledge. information

This affordable and accessible learning through employer-funded training has enabled Zaria to begin working while also upskilling to ensure her long-term success in the company and growing industry. The employer is investing in its employees, and company leaders are thinking further into the future about the skills the company needs, and the types of job candidates who will succeed. This match, based on skills potential, was made possible because of government investment in high-quality labour market information and a national platform that matches job candidates with career opportunities based on the candidates’ skills and the identified skill needs of a given job.

Taking the road less travelled:

A networked postsecondary education

Name: Sam
Age: 18

Policy prescriptions: Transform the learning of today with new partnerships

Sam is a prospective postsecondary student who has always been interested in pursuing a global and interdisciplinary education. Sam’s siblings have all instilled in her the importance of studying abroad, having spoken fondly of their academic exchange semesters, field research trips, and intensive language immersion programs. She is inspired, but unsure whether this pathway will be available if she chooses not to complete a four-year degree at one institution.

Sam is interested in understanding how emerging technologies can be used to modernize and improve government services—an area in need of talent not only in her home country of Canada but also abroad. She could take on a general political science, public administration, engineering, or computer science degree at the university close to her home, but none of those degrees feels like the right fit to build the skills she needs to pursue this career interest.

While researching options, Sam learns of a new degree completion pathway that allows students to take courses from a network of universities, colleges, and polytechnic institutions throughout Canada and stack them for skills-based  credentials that are recognized by major Canadian employers. A set of four of these credentials grants an individual a degree-equivalent endorsed by each institution. Sam identifies the skills and knowledge she wants to work towards and charts out four credential pathways:

  1. Service delivery design
  2. Change management
  3. Applications of emerging technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence)
  4. Machinery of government

With this customized learning pathway, Sam has full flexibility to decide how she wants to structure her courses, the institutions within the network she will study at, and the format and model of courses she prefers—whether live in-class instruction or online courses.

Cost flexibility is built in as well—students pay a standard fee based on the number of competencies they intend to learn rather than the normal standard of ‘credit hours’. The province in which Sam lives has endorsed this networked model of  postsecondary education and adjusted its financial assistance program to better support students. Grants and other non-repayable assistance take into consideration the number of courses the student is taking across all institutions when assessing financial need. Previously, Sam would have been required to be a full-time student at every institution to receive support.

Sam also has the option of starting with foundational courses or applying for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) information so her existing knowledge and skills can be tested and she can move on to more advanced topics.

Sam completes her first three credentials in three years and uses her certifications to apply for a one-year work-integrated learning experience with the federal government in Germany where she can learn first-hand about the applications of artificial intelligence in government. When she returns home, she applies for PLAR to certify her learning on the machinery of government and is granted a degree acknowledging her four-part customized education.

The collaboration between universities, polytechnics, and colleges to create a networked approach to degree completion, and its endorsement by the provincial government, allowed Sam to graduate as an alumnus of multiple postsecondary education institutions. Her exposure to different thought spaces and networks was highly valuable for ensuring she was engaged throughout her education and set up for post-graduation success. In the rapidly evolving field she has chosen, she understands how important it is to continuously upskill, and is prepared to return to formal education for more stackable credentials as she continues throughout her career.

Route guidance:

Personalized professional development

Name: ZheYuan
Age: 33

Policy prescriptions: Prepare teachers for their own lifelong learning journeys; Accelerate the shift to skills-based learning and hiring

ZheYuan is about to join Marama’s school as a new secondary school teacher. He completed his professional teacher education a decade ago, and teaching looks a bit different today than it did when he was studying. With the incorporation of learning technologies in the classroom, and expectations of teachers delivering competency-based education information, he needs personalized professional development to feel comfortable and supported in this new opportunity.

The school district has been on its own learning journey since shifting to a competency-based education model, and has had some growing pains. Over time, the district has come to recognize that success depends on school administrators working closely with teachers to co-create systems of instruction, and pathways to professional development. The district has its own online learning management system (LMS) for teacher professional development, with a catalogue of content covering a range of subjects including:

  • Strategies for student-centred instruction
  • Design thinking—how to prototype and iterate on solutions to test new approaches
  • Online content—using learning management systems to advance competency-based education
  • Data analysis—interpreting student progress

ZheYuan is excited that he can take on professional learning to suit his needs on his own schedule. He recalls an earlier time when he had to spend nine hours a month in-person taking the same professional development courses as his peers who were teaching very different subjects and had varied skill levels and pedagogical needs than him, which was less than effective.

ZheYuan can also take advantage of his teacher community in the LMS, connecting both in asynchronous chats and in live discussions with other teachers and experts from across his region to ask questions and share his experiences. He sees some upcoming dialogues hosted by his school district to share learnings and signs up for those sessions, knowing he will get a valuable peer perspective from other teachers. ZheYuan is thankful that his school leaders recognize and value professional learning and provide the supports and the time needed for improvement.

D2L Whitepaper Contributors

Lead Authors:
Malika Asthana, Manager, Strategy and Public Affairs
Joe Pickerill, Senior Director, Strategy and Public Affairs, International

Jeremy Auger, Chief Strategy Officer
Mark Schneiderman, Senior Director, Future of Teaching and Learning
Brendan Desetti, Senior Director, Strategy and Public Affairs, United States
Mike Semansky, Senior Director, Strategy and Public Affairs, Canada
Nia Brown, Senior Manager, Strategy and Public Affairs

In the driver’s seat:

Owning the personalized learning journey

Name: Marama
Age: 14

Policy prescriptions: Prepare teachers for their own lifelong learning journeys; Accelerate the shift to skills-based learning and hiring

Marama is enrolled in a school with a competency-based education model information. Students are responsible for owning the personalization of their learning pathways, making choices alongside their teachers in how and when they learn.iii Teachers play a central role in guiding and validating all learning, regardless of where it takes place—offering formative assessments to evaluate a student’s mastery of skills and knowledge. Teachers use data from these assessments, gathered through an online learning management system (LMS), to differentiate instruction and provide targeted supports so that all students progress toward graduation. As a student diagnosed with a learning disability, Marama is supported in her education by this personalized learning pathway.

All students complete an assessment in ninth grade to identify their natural strengths as a learner. Their teachers use the results as inputs to design tailormade educational pathways with learning materials and activities that suit the individual students’ learning needs. In Marama’s case, this includes:

  1. Supplementing lecture-based teaching with structured but independent reading
  2. Shadowing professionals who work on the concepts she is learning about
  3. Taking the stories and lessons she’s learned and sharing it back with classmates by designing a creative and interactive presentation

Over the course of the school year, Marama spends a third of her time in live lectures (sometimes online) with her teacher alongside other classmates—but the rest of her time is spent learning in the ways that suit her best. She can log into her online LMS from her mobile device to access her school resources and complete on her own schedule before the assigned deadline. When Marama finds a concept that interests her, she can ask her teachers and counsellor for support in finding a working professional to speak to, or work alongside for a couple weeks, from the network her school has curated over time. And when she has learned something, she is encouraged to reinforce her learning by applying her skills and developing content to share back with her classmates.

Marama’s personalized learning journey empowers her to own her education by learning in ways that are effective for her, with the support that allows her to be successful. Her teachers have high-quality data about student strengths and performance they can share with her parents to show them how she is mastering specific skills, and where she may need extra support. Her school experience empowers her to embrace her subject interests very early on, and she advances to deeper topics quickly as she submits evidence of learning that demonstrates her proficiency. She graduates having cultivated a mindset for self-directed learning early in her education.