Empathy is the first value we uphold as an organizational culture. Our design is driven by empathy for users with diverse challenges that pose a barrier to their teaching/learning. For us, disability is not a personal trait but the inability of a system to meet the needs of its users. At D2L, we view disability as the result of a mismatch between what the users need and what a product or service offers.
Inclusion is about understanding those user needs and providing design choices to meet them. We want everyone to learn because education can be life-transforming.
Diversity is a hallmark of being human. We are all made differently and have different needs at different times. Therefore, giving everyone the same design in the name of equality does not work.
Equity is about understanding different human needs and providing appropriate choices to meet everyone’s needs and help everyone succeed.
Accessibility is our way of meeting needs through the practice of inclusive design. To us, accessibility is about enabling choices for our users (learners, instructors, and admins) to support every user develop in reaching their full potential. Designing to meet the extreme needs of users with disabilities also addresses the needs of those who have similar needs due to temporary or situational conditions.
To promote Inclusion in education and reach every learner, we
- Recognize Diversity in learners through research
- Enable Equity to meet diverse needs through design
- Enhance Accessibility in our products through engineering
That’s our IDEA!
Our Inclusive Product Process
We achieve accessibility through the process of Inclusive Design. We include users with disabilities throughout our product process from research to release. We put the user at the centre from the very beginning and design to help them meet their diverse teaching/learning needs.
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 cafe would be a situational disability. When we design for people with permanent disabilities, we end up with designs that benefit everyone. For example, when we design for a deaf person, it serves those with temporary or situational hearing constraints as well.
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 co-design with them to make Brightspace even better.
Our Accessibility Framework
We view online learning as being primarily made up of three layers – Technology, Content and Pedagogy – operating within the context of a Community of teaching and learning. We believe that for online learning to be accessible, each of these layers must be accessible. Inclusive learning is possible only through Full Stack Accessibility in online learning. In other words, for online learning to be accessible, each of these layers must be individually accessible. As our Accessibility Value Proposition to our clients, we strive to extend support to them to make each of these layers accessible.
We will now look at each of these layers.
The technology layer consists of the learning management system and associated teaching/learning tools. To enable independent and effective learning for people with disabilities, these technologies need to be compatible with assistive technologies such as screen readers and speech input, and adaptive strategies such as screen magnification and video captions.
The content layer consists of all the learning content and associated materials such as assessments, feedback, and discussions. Here it is important to support the creation and maintenance of accessible content and materials.
The pedagogy layer is where course facilitators and trainers use that technology and content to deliver learning. Inclusive tools and processes help them deliver an inclusive learning experience. Here’s where the principles of Universal Design for Learning or UDL come in.
We believe in the power of community and collaboration. A thriving learning community is an essential part of an effective online experience. We offer diverse resources to support the Brightspace Community via D2L’s Accessibility Gateway.
Our Accessibility Gateway enables the Brightspace Community to access the following resources:
Accessibility Interest Group
We hope you have a great experience visiting our in-person and/or online Labs! We look forward to receiving your thoughts through the multiple choices provided for offering feedback.