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UDL On Campus · Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education

Web Conferencing

Accessibility at a Glance

Accessibility at a Glance

Visit the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) page to learn how to identify the accessibility features of a given platform.

Learn how to make the materials you use in a web conference accessible:


What is this resource about? This resource highlights the ways in which the use of web conferencing, live streaming and webinar platforms to broadcast content can enhance the learning experience when designed using the UDL framework. The Example provides an idea for incorporating web conferencing in an educational setting. Learn how to Optimize the Learning Environment using common interactive features found on instructional platforms.


Why is this important for higher education?

  • Web conferencing can be a powerful tool for students both in blended classroom and the online learning environment.
  • Both students and faculty can benefit from real-time interactions outside of the classroom as a way to include interactive media, hold review sessions, and support learning communities.

UDL Connection

Affective network icon

Web conferencing can support social learning where students engage in peer-to-peer interaction, which is important for sustained engagement.

Strategic network icon

Provide multiple means of action and expression: Many built-in features (e.g., tools for chat, video, screen sharing, drawing) allow for students to participate in different ways that they would not have access to in a typical face-to-face setting or through asynchronous online instruction.

Recognition network icon

Provide multiple means of representation: Web conferencing can be an effective way to include several forms of rich media to support the delivery of content.


Professor Higgins teaches a nursing course online that focuses on critical care of children. Rather than posting slides or a pre-recorded lecture, she would like to use web conferencing to broadcast interactive lectures with her students to promote dialogue between her students and answer their questions in real time. She designs the web conference using an online meeting platform that includes video conferencing, chat, and screen sharing capabilities. She knows the accessibility features of the platform (e.g., support for real-time captioning, color contrast control, support for assistive technology) and has provided this information to her students well in advance of the meeting and has arranged for a real-time captioner. Before the meeting, Professor Higgins shares any materials she will be using as part of the web conference session. During the session, she is explicit about the learning goals, uses multiple forms of media to represent the content, offers multiple opportunities for students to engage with each other, and provides immediate feedback. She records the session and posts it on the course website so that students can access it on their own afterwards.

Optimize the Learning Environment

Useful Interactive Features

  • Screen sharing (e.g., slides, web pages)
  • Whiteboard capabilities
  • Play live or pre-recorded video
  • Annotate images and documents
  • Text chat
  • Webcam capabilities
  • Real-time audio communication
  • Real-time captioning for presentations
  • User polling and surveys
  • Break-out rooms for smaller group discussions

Instructional Uses of Features

  • Encourage students to use a communication method of their choice (e.g., chat, video) to help students feel comfortable to participate through a medium that is best for them.
  • Introduce a concept through a short video followed by a chat between students using guided prompts related to the video.
  • Ask students to read an article in advance and use the web conference to video chat about the takeaways from the reading.
  • Use an interactive whiteboard to have students demonstrate how to solve a problem set and give them immediate feedback.
  • Have students share their screens to present on a topic or teach their peers as part as an assessment.
  • Invite students to present a video they created as part of a project.
  • Ask students to take a poll to better understand their learning of a particular topic and readjust your teaching strategies in real-time.
  • Record the session and post it to the course website so that students can access it on their own when they would like to review it.

Communicate Online Effectively

adapted from DeafTec

  • Be proactive and send out a statement asking if students require any accommodations to participate remotely such as Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) Captioning should always have its own chat window.
  • Speakers should use her/his webcam and have good lighting so users can see them speaking.
  • Introduce yourself before you speak and have students do the same.
  • Pace the delivery so that students have time to digest what you are saying especially if they are looking at something while you are talking.

Provide Options for Communication

  • Give students choice in how to participate (chat, emailing afterwards, raising their hands).
  • Provide students with a structure for the web conference and info about other methods of communication for your course (For example, we will also have an asynchronous discussion board and I expect you to respond 2x during the week).
  • See if there are ways you can break up a large group into a smaller ones. Break out rooms, asynchronous discussions with students sub-divided by alphabetical order or “birds of a feather” interests.

Enhance “Live” Delivery with other Methods

  • Where possible provide materials such as PowerPoints or handouts ahead of the web conference and check accessibility first.
  • Record the web conference so students can go back and review.
  • Create a multimedia glossary of terms you use in your course and keep it on the course site.
  • Elect a few students each class to take notes and post those to the course site.
  • Create a backchannel or use slack so students can help one another.

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.


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


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).


Assessment is the process of gathering information about a learner’s performance using a variety of methods and materials in order to determine learners’ knowledge, skills, and motivation for the purpose of making informed educational decisions.


Accommodations are adaptations provided in the classroom or on an assessment to qualifying students that do not fundamentally alter the skill that is being taught in the classroom or measured on the assessment.


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