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Accessible teaching

The University of Gothenburg must be accessible and inclusive to all. The University has to take steps to enable everyone to study at GU on equal terms. Among other things, this means that the University is required to work to make its teaching accessible.

As a teacher, you encounter a diverse group of students with a range of different needs. We can look at functional capacity as a sliding scale – we all have varying functional capacities at different stages in life. Access that is not inclusive is a form of discrimination. This means that the University of Gothenburg needs to ensure that students with a functional impairment or disability are in a comparable situation to those without this disability. Students with permanent disabilities can apply for and be recommended/granted study support. This support is then summarised in what is termed a NAIS statement.

What is essential for one person is generally good for everyone – that is the fundamental idea of universal design. When we have a high level of accessibility generally and our University’s activities are inclusive, the need for individual adjustments is reduced.

The information below provides teaching staff with tips and inspiration on how your teaching can be made accessible to a diverse student group with individual needs. The material also contains examples of common adjustments/study support for students with disabilities. You as a teacher and your department need to make decisions on some study support, which is summarised in a student’s NAIS statement. For example, this could include approving an adjustment for exams or allowing a student to record lectures in audio format for their own use.

It’s a good idea to maintain a dialogue with the student; they often have suggestions for solutions based on their situation. In cases where a student is accompanied by an interpreter, address the student directly when communicating with him/her.

The material on this page will be updated as required. If you have any comments or requests concerning the content, you are welcome to contact pil@gu.se

Read more about study support for students with disabilities in the Administrative Handbook (in the Staff Portal)

  • All courses and course components

    Suggestions for what you can do before and when the course starts

    • Create a clear structure in Canvas and present it at the start of the course.
    • Create a course guide with reading instructions for each course component.
    • Publish the reading list at least 8 weeks before the start of the course. Producing a new talking book (audiobook) takes at least 8 weeks.
    • Inform students with permanent disabilities about the possibility of applying for study support.
    • Talk about accessibility with all employees involved in the course and inform them about who they can approach if they have questions.
    • Maintain an open mind at the department and within the teacher team so that adjustments can quickly be implemented when a situation arises and based on the resources available/on offer.

    Suggestions for what you can do during the course

    • Provide important information in both oral and written form.
    • Make it possible to ask questions in writing and orally.
    • Avoid timetable changes and late changes to teaching premises. If a change cannot be avoided, check how the change will work from an accessibility point of view (for wheelchair users, students who need an accompanying person, etc.).
    • Remind the students that they can all download text-to-speech software and software to support their writing.
    • Remind the students that they can book guidance and support in academic language and writing from the Unit for Academic Language (ASK).
  • Lectures

    Suggestions for what you can do prior to a lecture

    • Make sure that the sound and lighting in the classroom/lecture hall are good. This is especially helpful for students with impaired vision or hearing.
    • Provide access to the lecture material in advance. Subtitle pre-recorded films and videos.
    • Share lecture material in advance with educational interpreters and students (for sign language interpreting and real-time speech-to-text interpreting).
    • If the student has not already received help, search for a note-taker for a student who is entitled to this assistance according to their NAIS statement.
    • Encourage course participants to share notes with each other. It’s a good idea to set up a dedicated place for this in Canvas.


    Suggestions for what you can do during a lecture

    • Face the course participants to permit lip-reading.
    • Always use a microphone, so students can focus on learning and not have to expend energy on straining to hear.
    • Repeat aloud questions and comments received from the course participants.
    • Read aloud the text in, and provide verbal explanations of, images, tables and figures.
    • Plan multiple, sufficiently long breaks into the lecture, inform the students about these and then stick to them. Those who have difficulty concentrating, or suffer from gastrointestinal diseases/conditions, etc., must get breaks in order to be able to focus on the lecture.
    • Permit students to record lectures in audio format for their own personal use.

    Suggestions when you create a PowerPoint presentation

    • Use short paragraphs and bullet point lists instead of distracting or hard-to-read blocks of text.
    • Avoid having more than one or two paragraphs of text per PowerPoint slide.
    • Don’t display all the content on the slide at the same time. Present bullet points, texts and images in stages.
    • Avoid placing text on top of an image or in an image.
    • Allow pattern and not colour to carry the meaningful content in graphs and charts.
    • Avoid images/illustrations that have no real purpose. Images without a clear purpose can make the presentation messier and more difficult to understand.
    • Use the University’s PowerPoint templates.
    • Make sure that the font size is sufficiently large.
    • Make sure that everything in the PowerPoint presentation is also spoken during the lecture. Describe meaningful images verbally.
  • Assessment

    Suggestions for things to consider regarding assessment

    • Vary the modes of assessment used.
    • Prepare the students for how the course will be assessed.
    • Students can choose between different types of assessment.
    • Get someone to read the questions in advance so that they are understandable.

    Adjustments in exams for students granted study support/NAIS statements

    Where students have been granted study support, one of the recommendations may be to adjust their exams for the purpose of achieving a comparable situation to students without disabilities. This recommendation will then be found in the student’s NAIS statement. The examiner decides on possible adjustments based on the intended learning outcomes in the course syllabus. Examinations assess all students on the basis of the same knowledge requirements, and the intended course learning outcomes must be met for the student to pass the course.

    Examples of recommended adjustments/study support that may be found in the student’s NAIS statement are:

    • More time
    • Use of a computer with spelling and grammar checker program
    • Use of text-to-speech software
      – For reading aloud exam questions
      – For reading aloud the student’s answers/own text
    • Use of talking books (audiobooks) for open-book exams. Bearing in mind that Lagboken, FAR, and FASS are not produced as audiobooks, consider whether it is possible to offer access to their websites instead.
    • Sit-down exam in small group
    • Sit-down exam alone
    • Use of sit-stand desk
    • Other adjusted examination formats, for example:
      – Oral examination instead of written
      – Written examination instead of oral
      – Divide exams up into two or more sessions
      – Examination alone instead of in a group
  • Texts, videos and films, audio

    Suggestions for making text, video, and audio accessible:

    Course literature

    • Publish the reading list at least 8 weeks before the start of the course. Producing a new talking book (audiobook) takes at least 8 weeks.
    • Provide tips on support software that is available to all students to facilitate reading and writing. Text-to-speech software (software that reads text aloud), spelling and grammar correction software, digital dictionaries, etc., can be downloaded free of charge from the Student Portal. The University Library provides support.
    • Talking books (audiobooks) for students who have a reading disability (no requirement for evidence in the form of a certificate or NAIS statement). The University Library can assist with a login to the Legimus talking book service and can order new recordings of books read aloud if necessary. Read more: Service for students with reading impairments
    • Provide reading instructions prior to lectures.
    • Remind students to read the course literature before lectures.
    • Include opportunities for discussion of the course literature during the course.
    • Share reading strategies. Student Portal web page on study and reading strategies
    • Provide compendia and similar material in digital form that can be listened to using text-to-speech software.
    • Make sure PDFs are accessible so that they can be listened to using text-to-speech software. Read more: Create an Accessible PDF (from the self-study resource
      Accessibility in Digital Environments, developed at Karolinska Institutet)
    • Ensure that there are image descriptions for students who need them.
    • Consider whether the student may need tactile images. The University Library has a tactile image printer and can assist in providing these. The department is responsible for the images and any necessary pre-processing since this requires knowledge of the subject area.

    Videos and films

    • Subtitle videos and films. Subtitles enable hearing-impaired students, students with hearing loss and also students with Swedish as their second language to follow the action.
    • Provide opportunities to ask questions about the video or film.
    • Provide audio descriptions of videos/films if needed. This makes it possible for blind and vision impaired students to follow the action.
    • More information about subtitles and audio description can be found on Media Technology’s web page on making films accessible (Swedish only).


    • Suggest taking notes while listening.
    • Transcribe the content as needed. This allows deaf and hearing-impaired students to access the content.


  • Essays and written assignments

    Suggestions on how to make writing essays and assignments and other written tasks accessible:

    • Encourage students to record supervision sessions in audio format so they can listen to the supervisor’s comments again.
    • Make audio/video recordings with oral and written comments to the students (for example use the recording function in the SpeedGrader in Canvas).
    • Tell the students that they can all download support software that assists with reading and writing (text-to-speech software and spelling and grammar correction software) via the Student Portal.
    • Remind the students that they can book guidance and support in academic language and writing from the Unit for Academic Language (ASK).
    • Tell the students about the search support provided by the University Library.
    • Extra assistance in writing reports and academic papers to students who have this recommendation on their NAIS statement. The department can be reimbursed for additional costs. Read more about study support for students with disabilities

    A tip for teacher teams/departments

    Integrating academic language and search support early and then returning to these elements throughout the course builds the student’s capacity to cope with academic language and to search for information. Precisely how to do this is something that teacher teams/departments need to agree on. The Unit for Academic Language (ASK) and the University Library can be helpful in this.

  • Group projects

    Suggestions on how to adapt group projects to be accessible:

    • Plan divisions into groups and allocate roles within groups ahead of time. Not being chosen often happens to students with disabilities.
    • A clear start and clear instructions for group projects is very important.
    • Prepare the students for what to expect and give concrete examples of constructive criticism.
    • Some groups may need to be checked on during the group project. It’s a good idea to plan for this.
    • Offer a variety of ways in which a group project can be reported and presented.


  • Laboratory exercises

    Suggestions on how to adapt laboratory exercises (labs) to be accessible:

    • Schedule generous breaks if the premises for the lab are far from each other or are difficult to access for some students. (During labs, students have to move premises from lecture hall to lab, which may create difficulties in arriving on time.)
    • Add the course’s lab instructions to the reading list.
    • Design the lab so that it can be done sitting or standing.
    • Consider what you need to make the lab safe even for those with disabilities.
  • Canvas (learning management system)

    Accessibility Checker

    In Canvas, the Accessibility Checker tool is linked to the rich text editor. It checks all the content you create in Canvas and warns if there are accessibility issues in it.

    Read more about the Accessibility Checker (information page on Canvas)


    The reading function Readspeaker is activated everywhere in Canvas. Click on "Listen" if you want the text on a page to be read out loud. An audio player will then appear.

    Read more about Readspeaker (information page on Canvas)

    Microsoft Immersive reader

    All Canvas users can enable Microsoft Immersive Reader. The function makes it possible to read and listen to content with certain adjustments.

    Read more about Microsoft Immersive Reader (information page on Canvas)

    Accessibility in digital environments

    "Accessibility in digital environments" is a self-study course created at Karolinska Institutet. The purpose of this online resource is to guide you in making accessible digital learning environments (for example digital course rooms and accessible Word and PowerPoint documents).

    (NB that GU does not have a license for the tool Blackboard Ally File Transformer, mentioned in section 6.4.)

    To the self-study course (in Canvas)

    Create an accessible structure in Canvas

    Create an accessible structure in Canvas by writing descriptive headings, links and introductory texts. Clear headings and text descriptions of what a page contains make it easier for students to navigate. Use the built-in headings in the text editor so that people using screen readers can jump between different parts of the content.

    Using concise and meaningful texts for links is especially important for people who use assistive devices such as screen readers. A screen reader can be used to read only the links on a page, and therefore the link itself should describe where it leads. The text for the link should make sense even if it is read out of context. Avoid long URLs as screen readers read them letter by letter. Read more about how to create accessible hypertext links on the New York State department website

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Contact us

Have any questions?

If you have any questions regarding accessible teaching, you are welcome to contact pil@gu.se

Have any feedback?

We are always pleased to receive feedback of all kinds on the content of this webpage. Is there something you are missing? Do you have any objections? Then feel free to contact pil@gu.se

Page Manager: Olof Siverbo|Last update: 12/7/2021

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