UDL, Digital Accessibility, & Pedagogy – Towards Harmonious Practice


Presented at 3:30pm in Penrose 1 on Wednesday, November 8, 2023.



  • Jennifer Curry Jahnke, Principal Educator, AccessibilityConsulting.ca
  • Lianne Fisher, Teaching & Learning Educator, AccessibilityConsulting.ca
  • Aiann Oishi, ,

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Interactive/Discussion
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: General Conference


Through different personas of disabled students, we will explore the ways accessibility, UDL, and pedagogy enhance or block learning. The exploration and dialogue are to foster intentional approaches to addressing competing principles in advancing inclusive teaching and learning practices in PSE. Importantly, this intentionality interrupts ideas that accessibility, UDL, and active learning can be completed projects, an assumption that is a significant barrier and requires an innovative approach.


Accessibility and UDL increase inclusivity and learning opportunities in educational settings. While pedagogical designs such as active learning are used to facilitate enduring learning for students. At times, these important initiatives and procedures interfere with each other. Attempts to foster multiple modes of representation (MMR), instructors and designers may provide a video, readings, and images in their lecture. This does support MMR but without alt text for images, accessible readings for AT, and captioning, the MMR are not accessible. When instructors look to provide MMR, a LMS may store readings, videos, and images, and can result in content dumping. This kind of information dumping is not uncommon in teaching, and not just in relation to UDL. More content, and not the ways in which it is organized and connected, is seen as advantageous. When knowledge is dumped as an expression of UDL, students lose access to the ways that content experts, such as professors, organize and approach concepts. When teaching and learning is treated as this kind of information transmission, content is privileged over action and expression, and engagement, the two other principles of UDL. Active learning, like engagement, acknowledges the need for learners to be actively engaged with the content for it to be learnt; linking new knowledge to existing knowledge structures. Students talking about what is being learnt in a class, or conducting their own experiments, is more likely to lead to enduring learning. For some students talking in class can be a barrier, and an active learning strategy to enhance learning, is now neither universally designed nor accessible. It is at this point that many instructors and designers want to apply a single solution to deal with the complexity of competing principles, or to give up. It is here, at this point, that it is important to move the dialogue forward and to not abandon two principles in service of just one.


  1. Explore the relationship between Universal Design for Learning, accessibility, and pedagogical approaches.
  2. Identify approaches that enhance or disrupt learning for disabled students.
  3. Challenge one’s assumptions to inclusive teaching and learning.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Administrative/Campus Policy, Teaching about Accessibility in Curriculum, Uncategorized, Universal Design for Learning

Speaker Bio(s)

Jennifer Curry Jahnke

Jennifer Curry Jahnke, M.Ed., IAAP (CPACC) Jennifer is the Principal Educator with AccessibilityConsulting.ca - a collective of digital accessibility educators supporting higher education. She is an active member of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act’s (AODA) Post-Secondary Education Standard Development & K-12/PSE Technical Committee, Accessible Canada Act’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Standard Development Committee, and the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP). An award winning post-secondary educator and academic researcher. She is a full-time Professor and creator of Mohawk College’s former Accessible Media Production graduate certificate program and micro-credentials. Currently, supporting academic institutions to implement accessibility practices at an enterprise level and build an inclusive education environment. Jennifer is a passionate leader committed to creating a culture of accessible digital inclusion.

Lianne Fisher

Lianne Fisher, M.A. (PhD student Educational Studies) For the last decade Lianne has worked to enhance and advance teaching and learning in post-secondary education. She entered educational development from working with students with disabilities as a learning strategist and this experience has always informed her educational approach. She continues to use principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), active learning, culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogies, and reflective practice in her work; while continually returning to anti-ableism to reassess and revise. Also, alignment between design, instructional practices, and assessment—to design for the edges—is integral to her work and her reflection. Lianne taught Diversity Perspectives as part of the former Accessible Media Production program (AMP). Part of this course reflected on how particular beliefs and practices (positive and negative) about disability influence accessible and inaccessible design. Her focus and commitment to teaching more learners more of the time, whether it is learners in a classroom, a professional development (PD) workshop, or people who teach and facilitate PD, this commitment continues through her domestic and international work as an Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) facilitator and trainer. As a specialist in Educational Development she consults with individuals, small groups, and programs, to design and modify courses, classes, and curricula.

Aiann Oishi

Aiann is passionate about creating accessible and meaningful design solutions. Since graduating from York University/Sheridan College Program in Design, she has worked in-house for organizations such as the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, Women’ College Hospital and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. She has led the design and technical development of print and digital communications from websites, annual reports to fundraising campaigns. Past freelance design clients include ErinoakKids Centre for Treatment and Development, Mohawk College and Owlkids Books. Currently, Aiann works in provincial government supporting web content accessibility and publishing.

Aiann holds a Master of Educational Technology from the University of British Columbia (UBC), with a special interest in emerging technologies, inclusive online learning and knowledge exchange practices. At UBC, she provided instructional design for McGill University’s online training program on population analytics and aging, and co-designed a game prototype on rethinking disability.

She has been a past speaker at the Annual Accessibility Conference at the University of Guelph, and at OCADU’s Inclusive Design Research Centre. In her spare time, Aiann volunteers with the Yonge Street Mission teaching web design to children and mentoring youth instructors.