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Welcome to D2L's Accessibility Lab

– a showcase of the philosophy and practice of accessibility at D2L

What is the Accessibility Lab?

Hello and welcome to D2L’s Accessibility Lab. In this lab, we demonstrate what accessibility means to us and how we design Brightspace to help you reach every learner. We have laid out experiences for you in three pages – Sensory, Physical, and Cognitive. These pages will help you to systematically understand what constraints people with disabilities might face, which assistive technologies they choose to use, and how Brightspace is designed to meet their needs.

Once you have gone through all of the pages, you can complete the scavenger hunt to practice what you’ve learned. We have hands on exercises to help you as you go along so that you can try out some assistive technologies and digital accessibility auditing tools.

Download here: D2L Accessibility Lab Hands On Exercises

Empathy Exercise

Please close your eyes, lock your fingers, and try to shut your mind for a few seconds. No, we’re serious! Please do that before you continue reading. You would have experienced a disconnect with the world around you. Loss of sensory, physical, or cognitive abilities to any degree poses a challenge to our effective interaction with the world. Inevitably, these abilities keep us connected with the world around us – both in its physical and digital forms.

Meeting a person with a sensory, physical, or cognitive challenge could sometimes make us feel awkward and at a loss to know how to respond. Here’s a video that suggests some do’s and don’ts.

Video duration: 3 minutes 40 seconds

View / download the text transcript of the Disability Sensitivity Training video

Accessibility in D2L Brightspace

The video above highlights a lot about adults with disabilities in the workplace. How is D2L addressing how individuals with disabilities are able to learn online? At D2L, we view disability not as a personal trait but as the inability of a system to meet the needs of its users. To us, accessibility is not about accommodating a disability.

Accessibility is about Choices

Accessibility is about choices: As human beings, we are diverse, with different needs at different times. Accessibility is about providing choices that meet users’ needs.Brightspace provides choices to its users (learners, instructors, and admins) to support every learner develop to their full potential.

Brightspace is Accessible

    1. The Brightspace interface is designed to be perceivable through a variety of sensory modalities. Learners can choose the modality that works for them such as vision, hearing, and/or touch with assistive technologies where required.
    2. The controls in Brightspace are designed to be operable through a variety of interaction modes. Learners can choose the mode of interaction they wish to use such as speech, switch control and/or touch according to what works for them or their assistive technologies.
    3. The interface and content in Brightspace are designed to be understandable to users across different cognitive levels. Learners can choose to use the assistive technology they need to augment or replace their capabilities.
    4. The technologies underlying Brightspace are engineered to remain robust enough to work seamlessly on a variety of existing and emerging devices. Learners can choose to learn with ease using any device such as desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone at any time and in any location with a consistent and delightful user experience.

Inclusive Design at D2L

We achieve accessibility through the process of inclusive design. We design to help users meet their diverse needs in using technology by putting the user at the center from the very beginning. Our designs are based on thorough user research (we encourage you to visit our UX lab across the passage to learn more.) As illustrated beautifully in Microsoft’s Persona Spectrum shown below, disability could be permanent, temporary or situational. For example, in the context of hearing loss, deafness would be a permanent disability, not being able to hear due to an ear infection would be a temporary disability, and not being able to hear very well in a noisy bar would be a situational disability.

Persona spectrum

Persona Spectrum

(Image source: Microsoft Inclusive Design Toolkit)

When we design for people with permanent disabilities, we end up with designs that benefit everyone. Designing to meet diverse user needs also helps us meet world-class accessibility standards as published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C.) We continuously align our production process with the most recent standards. When any of our clients identify a use case that our design hadn’t anticipated,  we codesign with them to make Brightspace even better.
We believe in the power of community and collaboration.

Accessibility Interest Group

Our Accessibility Interest Group (AIG) is a steadily growing community that includes D2L clients and partners. Together, we work towards building a more inclusive education ecosystem. The AIG meets once a month and shares knowledge through our active mailing list. If this community interests you, please read more about the AIG and sign up for membership or join the mailing list.

Now head over to the Sensory Page to keep learning!