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UDL On Campus · Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education


Accessibility at a Glance

Accessibility at a Glance


What is this resource about? This resource highlights the value of using video as part of instructional design and addresses how to make video fully accessible. The Example provides an idea for incorporating video in an educational setting. Learn more about Creating and Selecting Video and how to support Student-Generated Video in the classroom.


Why is this important for higher education? Across all disciplines, many instructors have adopted the use of video in instructional settings including face-to-face classrooms, blended learning environments, and online courses.

UDL Connection

Affective network icon

Both instructor use of video and student-generated video can recruit and sustain interest for a particular topic and lead to more meaningful participation in the classroom.

Strategic network icon

Provide multiple means of action and expression: Offer students the opportunity to create video as an active way to demonstrate understanding, particularly for those who experience challenges in the area of writing or live presentation.

Recognition network icon

Provide multiple means of representation: Both instructor use of video and student-generated video can recruit and sustain interest for a particular topic and lead to more meaningful participation in the classroom.


Professor Reed is prepping for his upcoming course called Economics of Ocean Resources. He wants to use a video on the first day of class as a way to introduce the subject of ocean economics. To find video that is licensed for open use, he searches You Tube through the Openverse Search Tool. He selects this video (see below) which is short and engaging, and provides just enough context to launch into deeper content. Importantly, the video includes captions and a transcript. (This video happens to have open captions, but many You Tube videos include closed captions which can be turned on by clicking the “CC” icon.) Professor Reed plans to show the video in class, but like all the videos he uses, he also posts it on the learning management system where students can log in to view it at any time.

[Narrator] The health of our nation's economy is tied to the health of the oceans and Great Lakes.

(truck engine running)

[A large truck drives along a road with mountains in the distance.]

[Narrator] The economic benefits that flow from our coasts are immense.

(birds chirping and ocean sounds)

[A barge floats along in a river with hills in the background.]

[Narrator] The resources of the oceans in Great Lakes create jobs across the country and increase the quality of life for all Americans from sea to shining sea.

(birds chirping)

[A farm scene shows a white fence and barns.]

[Narrator] Wait a minute.

(cicadas humming)

[The narrator, a man with his index finger raised, appears on the farm.]

[Narrator] I live in Iowa. I’ve never even seen the ocean. I grow corn. My brother works in a factory that makes tractors. My sister’s an accountant for a steel mill. I'm a vegan. I don't even like fish. So you're telling me that the ocean is important to my family and our jobs and our lifestyles? Actually, yes. It's like—it’s like this. Think about a spider web in how all the threads are connected together. If you touch any part of it the whole thing shakes.

(rubber band sound)

[A spider web appears and an animation shows the web shaking.]

[Narrator] All the parts the economy are connected like that. We export corn to more than 100 different countries—places like Japan and China. The corn business depends on the ocean because some of the corn that you're growing will be shipped through coastal ports to overseas markets. We export tractors and other farm equipment to faraway places like South America and Europe There's a good chance that your brother worked on a tractor that’s plowing a field in Argentina—a tractor shipped overseas through a coastal port.

(tractor engine starting)

[The scene changes to a map showing lines connecting different resouces around the United States. Images of corn appear in the center of the country and a line connects the corn to West Coast, followed by lines extending across the Pacific ocean to Japan and China. Barges carrying corn travel along the lines. Another line connects the East Coast of the United States to South America and Europe. A postcard-like image shows a man on a tractor in Argentina]

[Narrator] Or think about the shipbuilders along our nation’s coasts.

(hammering and sawing noises)

[Images of steel barges appear along the East and West Coasts of the U.S.]

[Narrator] They use lots of steel produced in other parts of the country.

(metal clanking noise)

[Images of steel appear in the Midwest region of the U.S.]

[Narrator] And those steel mills employ accountants, like my sister.

(cash register noise)

[The scene changes to a woman at a desk with an old-fashioned accounting machine.]

[Narrator] And didn't I see your sister in California surfing and eating Dungeness crab?

(camera clicks twice)

[An image of a wave crashing appears, followed by a woman eating crab.]

[Narrator] A lot of things come into this country through our coastal ports—things we use every day.

(success ding!)

(Cymbals clanking)

[The scene changes to a man in a horse barn shing his boots. He turns a boot over to see the label "Made in China."]

[Narrator] The goods and services from our coasts and oceans enrich the lives of every American.

(birds chirping and ocean sounds)

[The scene changes to the narrator with a marsh in the background.]

And the ocean-based businesses along our coasts thrive only with the help from the rest of the nation.

(ocean sounds)

[The scene changes to the narrator talking with a river in the background.]

[Narrator] It’s like, well—it’s like a great big spider web.

(rubber band sound)

[Narrator] I could go on and on, but that’s enough for now.

Creating and Selecting Videos

Instructors may want to create videos for a variety of reasons:

  • record a physics or chemistry demonstration with narration
  • walk through a problem set for students to watch at any time
  • use screen capture to walk students through the materials on the course website
  • record a lecture with slides to introduce or review a topic
  • record a “think aloud” presentation where students can hear the instructor apply different processes or steps that he/she is teaching
  • demonstrate certain tools or machines that students need to learn how to operate
  • leverage Case-Base Learning
  • walk through an important relationship between concepts or a complex diagram

Instructors may also want to select existing video for a certain purpose:

  • elaborate on a subject to spark student discussion
  • prompt students to draw connections or compare topics
  • teach complex relationships, systems, or phenomena that are better demonstrated through animations or models
  • highlight cultural or historical artifacts, people, or concepts

Student-Generated Video

Evidence suggests that many students view video creation as a valuable and engaging activity1. However, like all instructional assignments, students will vary in their perception and response to an assignment that involves video creation. For instance, some may find this a great way to demonstrate their knowledge while thinking creatively, while others may feel so intimidated by the idea of creating a video that they will not be able to convey their understanding effectively. As the UDL principles suggest, consider using multimedia as an option for students to demonstrate knowledge, but offer other means as a way to avoid inadvertently privileging, excluding, or disengaging learners. When possible, teach principles of good video production, including how considerations of content and target audience shape the structure and delivery of the content in the video.

As an assignment, instructors may ask students to:

  • record a teach-back session where students are asked to explain concepts in their own words
  • conduct a video interview with someone in the field
  • record quick responses to open-ended questions with a tool like Flipgrid
  • create a video blog entry
  • record an experiment and summarize findings
  • create a mini-documentary on a related subject
  • create a multimedia presentation and present it to the class
  • remix and adapt existing videos with the appropriate Creative Commons license to demonstrate understanding

Optimizing Video for Learning

  • Allow students to have direct access to the video so that they can control playback features such as replay, fast-forward, playback speed, and pausing.
  • Choose or create videos that are relatively short in duration or are divided into chapters or sections.
  • Choose videos that are available with captions or that can be captioned by a provider. Captions are not only useful for those with auditory challenges, but can be useful for many learners, including those learning a new language, those accessing the video in a noisy environment, or those who prefer to read along as they listen.
  • The automatic captions now provided on sites such as YouTube are not sufficient to meet accessibility requirements. While the technology behind automatic captioning continues to improve, it is not yet accurate enough to stand on its own without some editing to ensure its accuracy and timing.
  • To be fully accessible to the greatest range of uses, transcripts should also be provided along with captions. Transcripts provide a text-based version of the content including audio descriptions of visual information and audio content (e.g., laughter, music). Screen reader users often prefer transcripts over listening to the audio content as it is a much faster way to access all of the information presented in the video.
  • Student-created video should also be accessible.

Learn More About Accessible Video

The CAST AEM Center has created Teaching with Accessible Video, a resource that goes into more detail about the what, why and how of creating accessible video.

Tips to help create high-quality videos that also engage leaners and promote understanding.


Learn More About Accessible Video

1Greene, H., & Crespi, C. (2012). The value of student created videos in the college classroom–an exploratory study in marketing and accounting. International Journal of Arts and Sciences, 5(1), 273-283.


Video is the recording, reproducing, or broadcasting of moving visual images.


Captions are words that are displayed on a screen to describe audio content.


A transcript provides a written version of content that has been presented in an audio, visual, or audiovisual format.

learning management system

A learning management system is a software application or suite of applications or a web-based system that provides educational programs and their components such as classes, resources, assessment, tools, and communication, etc.; as well as organizational tools for administration, record-keeping, information sharing, database management, etc., with the intention to manage all parts of a learning process.


UDL is an educational approach based on the learning sciences with three primary principles—multiple means of representation of information, multiple means of student action and expression, and multiple means of student engagement.


Multimedia refers to the combination of several media (e.g., text, graphics, audio clips, video) to represent content concepts.


Audio, in this context, is a digital form or representation of sound. It is a format that stores, copies, and produces sound according to the data in its file(s).