Failure is not an option: Access to education in the digital world


Presented at 10:30am in Cotton Creek I on Friday, November 18, 2016.



  • Denis Boudreau, Principal web accessiblity consultant, Deque Systems

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format:
  • Expertise Level: Not provided
  • Type of session: General Conference


Web accessibility is one of the most critical issues facing higher education today. Two thirds of students with disabilities will drop out before they earn a degree. Learn how you can make a difference and become a part of the solution.


Never in the history of mankind were students offered such a wide range of opportunities. Universal design for learning principles mean we've all grown smarter as pedagogues. We understand students learn in different ways. We embrace the diversity, pride ourselves at how smart we've become as teachers. With so much knowledge at the click of a mouse, access to education for the masses has never been easier. This should be great news for students with disabilities, but according to research, digital exclusion is at an all time high and students with special needs have never struggled as much to get a diploma. Why is that? In this session, we will look at some of the challenges faced, and at ways to bring down barriers. Using examples driven from accessibility guidelines and UDL principles, we’ll look at concrete examples of barriers and how a few simple adjustments to the way we create content can go a long way to provide students with disabilities with a much brighter, independent future.


  1. An understanding of some of the issues faced by students with disabilities with digital content
  2. Ready to use, practical accessibility tips you can use to bring down barriers for students with disabilities
  3. A new outlook on what it means to create design teaching resources that can truly meet students’ needs

Disability Areas

Cognitive/Learning, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Mobility, Other, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Alternate Format, Assistive Technology, Web/Media Access

Speaker Bio(s)

Denis Boudreau

Denis is a Montreal-based Principal Web Accessibility Consultant and Strategist, working for Deque Systems, and a member of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in the Education and Outreach Working Group. He has been advocating social inclusion on the Web for the past 16 years, and has been running the annual a11yMTL conference in Montreal, Canada since 2010. An admitted nerd with an unhealthy fixation on UX and digital inclusion and a perpetual itch to use his passport, Denis has a passion for design that emotionally resonates, is beautifully engaging, and delightfully accessible. When Denis is not busy making the Web more accessible to everyone, he enjoys public speaking, table-top role-playing games and taking naps to rebuild his introvert bubble.