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Accessibility Lab: Sensory

Welcome to the Sensory section to experience how we make Brightspace easily perceivable by everyone. Here we introduce you to digital perception constraints that people with sensory challenges such as vision or hearing loss might face, and how Brightspace is designed to work with the assistive technologies they use to meet their needs.

Digital Perception Constraints

Loss of vision or hearing could happen suddenly or progressively, impacting our ability to interact with digital information systems. Assistive tools are required for access with vision loss while modification of content is required for access with hearing loss.

Moderate Vision Loss

People with moderate vision loss experience loss of visual acuity. They require assistive tools to augment their vision through magnification and/or adjustment of the contrast between text and background colours. Vision impairment simulators such as NoCoffee on Chrome help us experience a range of vision-related challenges like colour blindness, tunnel vision, cataract, and such. Don’t miss experiencing NoCoffee when you try out the hands-on exercises at the end of the page.

Profound/Total Vision Loss

People with profound or total vision loss cannot see the content and controls on the screen. They are usually unable to use the mouse as they cannot see the mouse pointer on the screen but they learn to touch-type on the keyboard. They require an alternative modality of perception such as hearing (screen reader) or touch (refreshable Braille display).

Deaf/Hard of Hearing

People who are deaf or hard of hearing require audio content to be augmented with text captions.

Assistive Technologies

Low Vision

High Contrast Keyboards

Users with low vision might use high-contrast keyboards such as the Keys-U-See® Keyboard. The large print keys with bolder, high-contrast typeface are easier to see, even in low light.

Keys-U-See High-contrast USB keyboard
Keys-U-See High-contrast USB keyboard

Users with low vision might also magnify the display or improve color contrast through browser tools or operating system tools.

ZoomText Mobile Brightspace A11y Demo


ZoomText® is a popular piece of commercial software that helps low vision users interact easily with digital systems. Brightspace is designed to work well with ZoomText. The video below shows an accessibility tester with low vision demonstrating how she uses ZoomText® to submit an assignment on Brightspace using her Android phone.

Video duration: 7 minutes 6 seconds


D2L uses the services of Fable for testing products and features with users with different disabilities.




JAWS Brightspace A11y Demo

Screen Readers

Users with significant vision loss use a software tool called screen reader that reads out the text from the screen along with text labels for non-text items.  Many of them also use a refreshable Braille display to experience the content from the screen reader in Braille via touch. JAWS is the most popular commercial screen reader on Windows. NVDA is a free screen reader on Windows. VoiceOver is a screen reader that is built into Mac computers, iPads and iPhones.

In the video that follows, Carin, a member of D2L’s accessibility team and a screen reader ninja, demonstrates how she uses Brightspace with the JAWS screen reader.

Video duration: 3 minutes 26 seconds

NVDA Brightspace A11y Demo

For those of you who are curious to learn screen reader interaction in greater detail, here is a longer demo of the same task that explains the steps using the NVDA screen reader.

Video duration: 11 minutes 57 seconds

Let’s move to the Physical section