Accessibility at Langara College

Empowering Accessibility: Register to Join Our Upcoming Workshops

EdTech is excited to announce a series of upcoming workshops dedicated to improving the accessibility of Microsoft Word documents and PowerPoint presentations.

Why Accessibility Matters

In today’s digital age, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can access and understand information is crucial. This is where accessibility comes in. It’s about making sure that everyone has equal access to information and functionality.

What Our Workshops Offer

Our workshops are designed to provide you with the tools and knowledge to create accessible Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. We believe that with a little effort and the right guidance, we can make a significant difference in making information more accessible to all.

Who Should Attend

These workshops are for everyone! Whether you’re a content creator, an educator, or just someone looking to learn, these workshops are for you. No prior experience is required.

Let’s Make a Difference Together

By participating in these workshops, not only will you enhance your skills, but you’ll also contribute to a more inclusive and accessible digital world. So why wait? Join us to learn how to make information accessible to all.

Learning Lab: Create an Accessible Word Document

Date: January 19

Time: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Location: C202

How to Create Accessible PowerPoint Slide Presentations

Date: January 26

Time: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Location: Zoom

Learning Lab: Improve the Accessibility of Existing PowerPoint Slides

Date: February 16

Time: 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Location: C202

Learning Lab: Improve the Accessibility of Existing PowerPoint Slides Drop-In

Date: February 20

Time: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Location: C203

Learning Lab: Create an Accessible Word Document

Date: April 5

Time: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Location: C202

Brightspace – Introducing “New Experience” Discussions

As of August 28, 2023, Brightspace Discussions has a new look and feel, as well as some changes to functionality. Below we summarize the most important changes to the new version of Discussions.

Look & Feel

New Experience Discussions has been changed to bring it into alignment with how Assignments and Quizzes in Brightspace look and function. This consistency across tools is meant to make it easier for new users to Brightspace.

On the create/edit topic page, the main settings (title, grade out of, description, etc.) are on the left side of the page (1), and the more advanced settings (availability dates, restrictions, evaluation settings, etc.) are in the expandable tabs along the right (2).


The are several changes to functionality and locations of settings that are significant in New Experience Discussions.

Automatically Create New Forum When Creating New Topic

All discussion topics need to sit within a forum (a container for topics). In New Experience Discussions, creating a new topic will automatically create a new forum of the same name. This eliminates the necessity of creating a forum prior to creating a topic. After the topic is created, instructors will be able to edit the name of the newly created forum or associate the current topic with another existing forum, if wanted.

Post and Completion

The Post and Completion settings are where you can allow anonymous posts and specify posting requirements. In New Experience discussions, only one of the following three options is possible:

1.     Default participation, which is a new option and has been added so that the default settings are clearly stated. The default settings do NOT allow for anonymous posts or require that users must start a thread.

2.     The option of Allow learners to hide their name from other learners is the setting that allows anonymous posts.

3.     The last option is Learners must start a thread before they can view or reply to other threads.

Manage Restrictions (replaces “Topic Type”)

The default for discussions is an “open topic” that all learners in the course can participate in; however, accessing the Manage Restrictions settings allows instructors to restrict discussions, if needed, so that learners can only see and reply to their own group or section’s posts. To set topic restrictions in New Experience, go to the Availability & Conditions settings on the right side of the edit page and look for Manage Restrictions.

Note: In Classic Experience, topic types could not be revised once set; however, in New Experience topic restrictions can now be revised up until a topic has an associated post, providing greater flexibility.

Restricting Topic and Separate Threads

To restrict a topic so that learners can only view threads from their group or section, go to Manage Restrictions and choose the option Restrict topic and separate threads. Then select which group category or section will have their threads separated.

Restrict Topic

To restrict a topic so that only selected groups or sections can view a topic and all threads, choose the radio option Restrict topic in the new Manage Restrictions workflow. Then select which sections/groups can see and participate in this discussion.

Availability Dates

Managing availability dates in Discussions is now similar to Assignments. Once a start or end date is added, additional settings can be adjusted to specify how learners see and access the topic outside of the availability dates.


If you need assistance with Brightspace Discussions, please contact EdTech.

AI tools & privacy

ChatGPT is underpinned by a large language model that requires massive amounts of data to function and improve. The more data the model is trained on, the better it gets at detecting patterns, anticipating what will come next and generating plausible text.

Uri Gal notes the following privacy concerns in The Conversation:

  • None of us were asked whether OpenAI could use our data. This is a clear violation of privacy, especially when data are sensitive and can be used to identify us, our family members, or our location.
  • Even when data are publicly available their use can breach what we call contextual integrity. This is a fundamental principle in legal discussions of privacy. It requires that individuals’ information is not revealed outside of the context in which it was originally produced.
  • OpenAI offers no procedures for individuals to check whether the company stores their personal information, or to request it be deleted. This is a guaranteed right in accordance with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – although it’s still under debate whether ChatGPT is compliant with GDPR requirements.
  • This “right to be forgotten” is particularly important in cases where the information is inaccurate or misleading, which seems to be a regular occurrencewith ChatGPT.
  • Moreover, the scraped data ChatGPT was trained on can be proprietary or copyrighted.

When we use AI tools, including detection tools, we are feeding data into these systems. It is important that we understand our obligations and risks.

When an assignment is submitted to Turnitin, the student’s work is saved as part of Turnitin’s database of more than 1 billion student papers. This raises privacy concerns that include:

  • Students’ inability to remove their work from the database
  • The indefinite length of time that papers are stored
  • Access to the content of the papers, especially personal data or sensitive content, including potential security breaches of the server

AI detection tools, including Turnitin, should not be used without students’ knowledge and consent. While Turnitin is a college-approved tool, using it without students’ consent poses a copyright risk (Strawczynski, 2004).  Other AI detection tools have not undergone privacy and risk assessments by our institution and present potential data privacy and copyright risks.

For more information, see our Guidelines for Using Turnitin.

Brightspace Accessibility in Five, 3: Headings

Brightspace plus accessibility logo
Brightspace is an excellent tool to provide equitable, inclusive access to course content, documents, and media.

As you create content, take advantage of Brightspace’s built-in tools and the Accessibility Checker to ensure what you share is accessible. Accessible content is inclusive, democratic, and maximizes learner independence.

In the third of this five-part series, we will learn about headings.


Headings are an important part of documents and web pages. Headings create organizational flow, build connections between key concepts, and break up large blocks of text to increase readability. Screen reader users rely on headings to navigate the web and longer documents. For anything beyond a few paragraphs, headings are essential for screen reader users.

Use headings in a sequential, nested hierarchy. For example, use a Heading 1 for the title or topic. Use Heading 2 for major divisions of content and ideas. Use Heading 3 for subtopics of the major divisions. Brightspace supports 4 heading levels.

You can have multiple headings of the same level, but do not skip a heading level. A Heading 2 can follow a heading 1 or a heading 2. A heading 3 can follow a heading 2 or heading 3 and so on.

Headings benefit all readers. Headings:

• Include all, regardless of access means.
• Provide context and explains relationships between ideas.
• Emphasizes key concepts.
• Provides ‘bookmarks’ for natural breaks.
• Allows for easy review and location of content.

Creating Headings in Brightspace

Select the Format tool in the top left of the editor toolbar and choose the appropriate heading level.

For more information about headings and document structure, consult the Langara Accessibility Handbook.

Accessibility Checker

Brightspace includes a built-in accessibility checker. The checker appears on the second row of the editor toolbar.

  1. Select More Actions to reveal the second row of the toolbar
  2. Select Accessibility Checker

The accessibility checker will highlight many accessibility issues and offer solutions to correct them. For headings, the Brightspace accessibility checker will flag text that could be a heading due to formatting (bolded larger font on a line by itself for example) but is not properly coded as a heading. The accessibility checker also flags headings that are out of sequential order (for example a heading level 3 with no preceding heading level 2).

Watch for more posts in the Brightspace Accessibility in Five series coming soon, including:

  1. Link Text
  2. Colour
  3. Headings
  4. Tables
  5. Text Equivalents
  6. Bonus: Accessible Uploads

Brightspace Accessibility in Five, 1: Link Text

Brightspace plus accessibility logo

Brightspace is an exceptionally accessible platform. Using Brightspace for your course content, documents, and media is an excellent way to provide equitable, inclusive access to learning material.

Take advantage of Brightspace’s built-in tools and the Accessibility Checker to ensure what you share is accessible. Accessible content is inclusive, democratic, and maximizes learner independence.

In the first of this five-part series, we will learn about adding link text to your Brightspace content.

Link Text

Link text should provide a clear description of the destination, independent of the surrounding text.

Students that with a visual impairement may use screen reader software that allows them to navigate by links. Descriptive link text helps orient and guide them to resources. A list of “click here”, “click here”, “Read more”, etc. is not going to provide users with any meaningful information. Pasting raw URLs in Brightspace should also be avoided as, for example, heading “” is jarring and not a useful indicator of what that link would lead to.

Additionally, sighted users can easily spot or relocate a link when it has a clear text description. As well, all users benefit from quality link text to understand why they would want to click on the link.

Effective link text should be:

  • Descriptive
    • Describe the destination
  • Concise
    • Try to limit link text to a few words
  • Unique
    • If two links on a page go to the same destination, they should have the same link text, otherwise ensure all link text is unique
  • Visually distinct
    • Links should be visually distinct from surrounding text. In Brightspace, stick with default formatting (blue underlined text) for links.

To Link Text in Brightspace

  1. Highlight the text to be linked and select Add/Edit Link
  2. The highlighted text will appear in the Title field. Paste the URL in the Link field and select Create.

Find more information about link text in the Langara Accessibility Handbook and read more about adding hyperlinks in Brightspace.

Accessibility Checker

Brightspace includes a built-in accessibility checker. The checker appears on the second row of the editor toolbar.

  1. Select More Actions to reveal the second row of the toolbar
  2. Select Accessibility Checker

The accessibility checker will highlight many accessibility issues and offer solutions to correct them.

Watch for more posts in the Brightspace Accessibility in Five series coming soon, including:

  1. Link Text
  2. Colour
  3. Headings
  4. Tables
  5. Text Equivalents
  6. Bonus: Accessible Uploads

New Text to Speech Tools in Brightspace

EdTech is excited to announce new text to speech tools in Brightspace.

A new toolbar (pictured below) automatically appears on content pages, Quizzes, Assignments, and Discussions.

Screenshot of ReadSpeaker toolbar

The simple, intuitive interface allows for users to hear text read aloud. In Brightspace, simply select Listen and the toolbar instantly creates an audio version of text.

This tool offers students the choice of reading, listening, or both simultaneously. Allowing users choice and customization accounts for learner needs and preferences.

This tool may assist learners with:

  • Increased understanding
  • Improved reading comprehension
  • Information retention and recall
  • Vocabulary
  • Fluency and accuracy
  • Motivation and attitudes toward reading

Available user features include:

  • Customization of colour, style, and size of font
  • Choice of reading voice and speed
  • Synchronous text highlighting
  • Page masking and text-only view
  • Ability to select content to be read aloud
  • No download required
    • Learners can use this tool on campus, at home, on their phone, or on the bus

In addition to Brightspace pages, Word and PDF documents uploaded to Brightspace also have a text to speech reader option.

While a benefit to all learners, this tool is especially important to users that need content to be read aloud. The addition of text to speech is an important step in Langara’s work toward accessibility and universal design for learning.

For more information, read about the toolbar’s features or contact assistivetech@langara.

Spring 2022 Ed Tech Book Club

Spring, 2022 Book Club

The Spring, 2022 Book Club selection

This spring, the EdTech Book Club will be reading Should robots replace teachers? AI and the Future of Education by Neil Selwyn (2019).
The author shares his research on AI and robotics in education. By exploring how AI is being used to develop teacher-bots, ‘intelligent tutors,’ and pedagogical agents, among other EdTech tools, he shines a light on issues around the politics and ethics of automated teaching. He clarifies what AI can do to benefit education and what it cannot do. He also warns instructors about the dangers of AI in education and advocates for critical discussions among teachers, learners, AI developers, and communities.

We invite you to join us in weekly discussions inspired by this book and other topics related to Educational Technology.

Mode: Online through Zoom with the potential for an in-person option pending COVID-19 prevention protocols.

Time / Location: Tuesdays, 4:30 – 5:30 pm

Duration: 6 weeks

Dates: February 1st – March 15th (No gathering on Tuesday, Feb 22nd during Spring Break)

The first four (4) registrants will receive a free copy of the book.

Sign Up Here

For a lighthearted song to get you in the mood for reading this book, we will leave you with a song by the Flight of the Conchords which describes the distant future: Video on YouTube

Fall, 2020 Book Club

Last fall, the EdTech Book Club read The Manifesto for Teaching Online by Bayne, et al. (2020). Participants met weekly, either via Zoom and/or in-person, to discuss the book and create our very own Manifesto. Here are some of the highlights according to a few book clubbers:

“I really enjoyed the mix of people from other educational institutions taking part in the conversation, I enjoyed that different participants had the opportunity to facilitate, bringing in the author to take part in the conversation was a great idea! The book content was interesting, engaging and allowed for a broad conversation on a range of topics.”

“Being able to connect with colleagues, and learn about tools and techniques through them, such as H5P. Also, tea and chocolate.”

“Having Jen [one of the authors of The Manifesto] come in for a meeting was really great […]. It was great to hear how things are done at other institutions. “

“Having it open to colleagues from other institutions was very helpful, so keep advertising it to the public. Being hybrid was also good, because it allows more people to participate and allows for an “after-party” session, for less structured discussion.”

After 9 weeks of rich discussions, we created the following Manifesto:


Fall EdTEch Book Club 2021

This fall, the EdTech Book Club will read and discuss The Manifesto for Teaching Online by Siân Bayne, Peter Evans, Rory Ewins, Jeremy Knox, James Lamb, Hamish Macleod, Clara O’Shea, Jen Ross, Philippa Sheail and Christine Sinclair.

This book is an update to a provocative manifesto intended to serve as a platform for debate and as a resource and inspiration for those teaching in online environments. In 2011, a group of scholars associated with the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh released “A Manifesto for Teaching Online,” a series of provocative statements intended to articulate their pedagogical philosophy. In the original manifesto and a 2016 update, the authors counter both the “impoverished” vision of education being advanced by corporate and governmental edtech and higher education’s traditional view of online students and teachers as second-class citizens. The two versions of the manifesto were much discussed, shared, and debated. In this book, the authors have expanded the text of the 2016 manifesto, revealing the sources and larger arguments behind the abbreviated provocations.

Join us for discussions on The Manifesto for Teaching Online. We will reflect on our practices as users of educational technology, question assumptions and consider new ideas.

We will meet on Tuesdays, from 4:30 – 5:30, from September 21st – November 16th (for 9 weeks). We will be experimenting with a hybrid model; you can join us online and/or in person in the TCDC/ETech space (cookies and coffee/tea available).

Please note: While we encourage participants to sign up for the duration, if you wish to attend only one or two sessions, please contact us at to get the Zoom link and meeting details.

Unlimited e-book access and limited hard copies of the book are available through the Langara library. The book is also available for purchase via Book WarehouseChapters, and Amazon.

The EdTech Book Club is a supportive environment in which to share ideas, pose questions, and learn about effective online teaching practices, EdTech theory, and hands-on online tools.


Summer EdTech Book Club: Intentional Tech

Join the EdTech Online Book Club as we read and discuss Derek Bruff’s:
Intentional Tech: Principles to Guide the Use of Educational Technology in College Teaching.

“Arguing that teaching and learning goals should drive instructors’ technology use, not the other way around, Intentional Tech explores seven research-based principles for matching technology to pedagogy. Through stories of instructors who creatively and effectively use educational technology, author Derek Bruff approaches technology not by asking ‘How to?’ but by posing a more fundamental question: ‘Why?’ “

The EdTech Book Club is a supportive environment in which to share ideas, pose questions, and learn about effective online teaching practices, EdTech theory, and hands-on online tools.

Date: Tuesday, May 11th – Tuesday, June 29th

Time: 4:30 – 5:45 pm

Location: Online

Register here.

Increasing Accessibility of Course Content: Tips for using the Brightspace Accessibility Checker

Increasing accessibility of course content: Tips for using the Brightspace Accessibility Checker

Web Accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of making websites and online content usable by people of all abilities and disabilities. Use the Brightspace Accessibility Checker to identify common accessibility issues on your Brightspace course pages.

How to run the Accessibility Checker

The Check Accessibility button is located on the bottom right of the Brightspace HTML EditorThe Accessibility Checker is available within the HTML Editor. When you are in edit HTML mode, the checker is located on the bottom right corner of the Editor, next to the Spellcheck button.

Alternative Text

The most common accessibility issue is missing image alternative text (alt text). Alt text is background code added to a digital image that allows a screen reader or other assistive technology to describe the image’s content and meaning to those who cannot see the image or may be unable to process the image due to a cognitive disability. When alt text is missing, the Brightspace Accessibility Checker will flag the issue, noting Images must have an alternative text description.

The Accessibility Checker flags missing alternative text with the message Images must have an alternative text description

How to add alt text

The easiest way to add alt text is to include it when inserting images into a Brightspace page. When you insert an image using the HTML editor, a pop-up appears, prompting you to add alt text. Brightspace add the alt text to the HTML code (e.g., <img src=”filename.jpg” alt=”Example of Microsoft Forms response results.” />).

Treat informative images as decorative by supplying an empty alt attribute or checking the box next to This image is decorative. Brightspace will add alt text of “” to indicate an empty alt attribute.

Brightspace prompts users to add alt text when inserting images

If the Accessibility Checker flags an image as missing alternative text, you can fix the issue by adding alt text inside the report panel or by adding it directly to the HTML code.

Tips for creating alt text

When deciding what to include as alternative text, imagine that you are describing the image aloud over the phone to someone who needs to understand the image.

According to WebAIM, alternative text should:

  • Be accurate and equivalent in presenting the same content and function of the image.
  • Be succinct.
  • Not be redundant or provide the same information as text within the context of the image.
  • Not use the phrases “image of…” or “graphic of…” to describe the image unless the fact that an image is a photograph or illustration, etc. is important content.

WebAIM offers a fantastic guide to creating appropriate alternative text for images.

Note: It is always a good idea to double-check the alt text included in your HTML code. An accessibility checker only indicates whether alt text is included, it cannot check the quality or usability of the alt text.


Low colour contrast is another common accessibility issue. Insufficient contrast between the foreground and background reduces readers’ ability to perceive content on the page.

Insufficient colour contrast is flagged by the checher

The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 define specific contrast ratios that must be met in order to comply at particular levels. To meet the guidelines, text or images of text must have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 (or 3:1 for large text).

The maximum contrast is black vs. white but other options are available such as navy/white, cream/dark brown, yellow/black, and similar color schemes. A colour scheme is considered legible if it can be read in grayscale/black and white mode.

The Accessibility Checker flags:

  • Large text that does not have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1.
  • Visual presentation that does not have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1.

Adjusting contrast

Try using the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker to adjust the contrast by lightening or darkening elements.


A heading describes the content that follows it, giving uses a sense of the page’s organization and structure. Headings give sighted users a way to quickly find what they want on the page.

If the underlying code for a page’s headings is correct, screen reader users can also benefit from headings. Screen reader and other assistive technology users can also skip from heading to heading.

The checker flags improperly applied heading styles

How to create headings in Brightspace

Select the text then set it to the proper heading using the Format dropdown menu. Do not skip levels. If the heading levels are not in the correct order, the Accessibility Checker will flag the issue.

Tips for creating headings

    • Headings are ranked <h1> through <h6>.
    • Every page should have an H1 heading, representing the most important idea on the page, and sub-sections organized with <h2> level headings. Those sub-sections can themselves be divided with <h3> level headings, and so on.
  • Headings need to be used in the correct order.
  • Do not skip heading levels to be more specific (for example, do not skip from <h2> to <h5>).
  • Do not select heading levels based on their appearance. Select the appropriate heading rank in your hierarchy.

Note: The Brightspace Accessibility Checker will not flag a page without headings; it only flags incorrectly ordered headings. 


Lists are great from an accessibility standpoint because they provide structured order to content in a linear fashion. Lists are recommended as potential replacements for simple tables, as tables can be more challenging to navigate. Properly code the lists so that they convey the hierarchical content structure to screen reader users. Use unordered lists <ul> when there is no specific order intended for the list you are creating. Use ordered lists <ol> when there is a defined sequence or order for the list.

The checker flags text that appears to be a list but has not been properly styled.

The Brightspace Accessibility Checker will flag items that appear to be a list but do have  unordered or ordered list styles applied.

How to use lists

Select the items, then choose the Unordered List icon if the order does not matter, or select Ordered List from the dropdown menu if it is sequential.

Use bullets for unordered lists and numbers for ordered lists

Descriptive Hyperlink Text

The Accessibility Checker cannot assess whether links are meaningful or accessible; however, making hypertext links accessible is one of the most basic and most important aspects of web accessibility.

How to create a hyperlink

Select Insert Quicklink icon, then select URL in the popup window, enter the URL and a title that describes the link’s destination.

Suggestions for creating meaningful and accessible hyperlinks

  • Link text should be unique within a page, should be meaningful when read out of context, and should help users to know something about their destination if they click on it. Link text such as “Click here” and “More” fail to meet these criteria.
  • Avoid providing two links right next to each other that point to the same location (it can be confusing for screen reader users).

To request help with improving the accessibility of your course content, email