Classroom Experience

At the University of Denver, the classroom experience should be one in which both faculty and students of all abilities & backgrounds can participate, engage and learn. By designing an inclusive environment and embracing Universal Design for Learning (UDL), we promote diversity, equity and inclusion in our classroom experience.

Inclusive Learning



We believe a diverse student body improves the college experience and deepens students' understanding of their communities beyond campus.

  • icon request

    If you're a student who needs a classroom accommodation, make a request with the Disability Services Program

  • icon tools

    Neurodiverse students may be interested in the additional tools and resources offered by the Learning Effectiveness Program

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    We provide technology access & support, whether it is Canvas, Adobe Creative Cloud applications, Kurzweil 3000 (text to speech), for all students at no cost.



At DU, our faculty strive for inclusiveness in our classrooms and work with instructional designers to create their courses with accessibility in mind.

Designing an Inclusive Classroom

Creating and promoting an inclusive classroom is essential to provide an accessible, engaging and supportive environment for all students. As an instructor, you will encounter and interact with students from a variety of backgrounds, lived experiences and intersectionality. The University of Denver is committed to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and we strive to provide faculty with resources and support to better serve all of our students.

Intentionality is at the core of inclusivity, and adopting Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles when developing curriculum will ensure that your content is accessible, empowering and inclusive to your students. These principles support the diverse learning needs of all students through:

  1. Presenting information and content in different ways.
  2. Differentiating the ways that students can express what they know.
  3. Stimulating interest and motivation for learning.
  4. Include a variety of representation in your course materials.

Learn more about UDL at the Office of Teaching and Learning or CAST, a nonprofit education research and development organization that focuses on UDL.

  • Multiple Modalities

    Not all students access information using the same senses, so it's important to present in different modalities, such as ensuring students can both read and listen to the information.

    • When using videos, make sure they're captioned appropriately or you have a transcript available that goes with the video.
    • Apply captions or use alt text when you include images in your documents and slide decks.
    • Verbally describe images, diagrams, etc. that are referenced in class.
    • Format text-based documents so that students who use adaptive technologies can listen to or read them.
  • Accessibility in Course Materials

    Make it easier for your students to find the information they're looking for in your syllabus, notes and other course material by using document structure. 

    Document structure is a way of organizing information with descriptive headings, bullet points and section breaks to differentiate content.

    Documents that are saved as images, photocopied or only available as hard copies can't be read by these technologies. Some students use technology such as screen readers, text-to-speech programs or screen magnifiers to aid in reading. Ways to create ease of access include:

    • Link to articles and readings from library resources. Our librarians can find library-licensed versions of online journals, digital books or accessible websites for your course.
    • Make your documents available in larger print or in a Word document format.
    • Before the start of the quarter, send out your syllabus so that students who need accommodations can find textbooks and documents converted into an alternate format in a timely manner.
  • Deadlines & Assignment Instructions

    When you teach the same course from one quarter to the next, it's easy to overlook important information, such as old due dates or incomplete assignment instructions.

    To reduce confusion among your students:

    • List all assignments and exact due dates in the syllabus and on your course website. Double check to make sure these are consistent.
    • For assignments with multiple steps, list out the steps and include the exact due date for each step.
    • Use exact due dates instead of day of the week (i.e. "due September 15" instead of "due Tuesday").
    • Refer to assignments by the same name instead of variations of the name (i.e. always refer to it as "final report" rather than "final research project" or "final assignment").
    • Make sure that downloadable file names are the same as what you list in your syllabus.
    • If you make a change to the syllabus, such as altering an assignment deadline, be sure to communicate this in class and again on your course website.
  • Class Participation

    When using clickers for class participation or quizzes, be aware that some students may have limited dexterity, while others may need additional time to read and process the questions. 

    • Give other options for students to earn participation points, such as through the course website or verbal acknowledgment.
    • Consider whether a time limit is essential to the activity and if it's possible to extend or remove it.
    • Modify this process for the whole class so it doesn't feel like you're singling out an individual student.
  • Classroom Lighting
    • Flashing, strobing or flickering lights may trigger disability symptoms for some students. Avoid using these effects on your presentation slides, and if you plan to use a video with any of these effects, let your students know ahead of time.
    • Some students may have a hard time seeing light contrasts, such as your presentation slides in a bright room. Gather feedback from your students and adjust the lights accordingly.
    • Certain color combinations may be difficult for some students to see (i.e. yellow text on a white background). Be aware of color contrast on your presentation slides and consider using patterns in addition to color when displaying charts or graphs.
  • Non-Apparent Disabilities

    Disabilities may not be apparent. Aiming to make your classroom accessible is important because you won't know every disability your students may have. Additionally, students who share the same disability may require varying degrees of accommodations.

    • Students may not disclose their disability. There are many reasons why students may not disclose their disability to you:
      • They may not know they have a disability
      • They have developed strategies for learning
      • They might not be aware of the Disability Services Program and the services they provide
      • They have experienced a stigma from disclosing their disability
    • Be aware of classroom barriers and work to minimize these
      • Some students may have more than one disability, which is why it's important to focus on making your course accessible for all and providing reasonable accommodations for an inclusive classroom, rather than focusing on the disabilities themselves.

Providing Accommodations

We understand that the first weeks of a new academic quarter can be hectic. By making your course accessible from the start, you can help all students and reduce the need to make accommodations.

Should a student disclose his or her disability, use this site and consult the Disability Services Program (DSP) for ways to provide a timely and reasonable accommodation.

  • Attendance

    Regular attendance is essential for the academic success of all students. However, we recognize that some disabilities and medical conditions can be chronic, cyclical, episodic or random and may impact a student's ability to fulfill attendance requirements. These may include:

    • Autoimmune disorders
    • Conditions requiring chemotherapy or dialysis
    • Diabetes
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Mental health conditions
    • Seizure disorders


    Students can request a modified attendance plan as an accommodation through the DSP. Students with a modified attendance plan do not receive unlimited absences or have prior absences retroactively excused (except in extraordinary circumstances). They are still responsible for all the material covered when they are absent from class.

    Seasonal illnesses, non-disability related absences and disabilities or medical conditions that are not disclosed through the DSP are not subject to a modified attendance plan.

  • Assignment Extensions

    All DU students are expected to fulfill the essential requirements of their classes, including completing assignments by their stated due dates. However, we understand that some disabilities or medical conditions may impact their ability to do so, such as those that...

    • Are episodic
    • Fluctuate in severity
    • May require hospitalization


    Students with a documented disability or medical condition can request a per assignment extension as a reasonable accommodation. An approved per assignment extension accommodation does not provide a student with an automatic extension for each assignment, extensions of undefined length or retroactive extensions on previous assignments (except in extraordinary circumstances).

  • Course Readings

    Before a new quarter begins, submit your book list to the DU bookstore by the stated deadline. This allows students to search for their books and submit requests for alternate formats.

    On Canvas, you'll want to make sure that your PDFs and other documents have searchable text. To convert an image PDF into a text-recognized PDF that works with a screen reader:

    • Open your PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC
    • Click "Edit PDF" in the top right
    • Go to "Scanned Documents"
    • Ensure that "Recognize Text" is selected
    • Click "Saved As" and name the document something descriptive


    If you have a student with vision loss, please contact DSP for additional information and assistance with text-recognized PDFs.

  • During Class
    • Live Captioning (CART)
      • We coordinate live captioning, or Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART). We contract with stenographers to transcribe classroom conversations for students who have hearing loss. Note that the stenographer should not express their personal opinions or participate in class apart from facilitating communication to the student. 
    • Peer Note-Taker
      • For students who need a peer note-taker as an accommodation:
        • Make an announcement in class or through the class website (without identifying the student) for a volunteer to be a note-taker. It can be helpful to mention that the note-taker will receive a $40 stipend at the DU bookstore.
        • Once a note-taker has been identified, introduce the note-taker to the student.
        • The student and note-taker will need to determine the best way to get notes, such as being scanned and emailed, photocopied or written on carbon-copy paper.
        • The student and note-taker must complete a Classroom Note-Taker Agreement and submit it to DSP
        • Note-takers will receive a $40 stipend to the DU bookstore loaded to their Pioneer ID card within two months of submitting a signed Classroom Note-Taker Agreement
    • Sign Language Interpreters
      • DSP coordinates sign language interpreters in classrooms. Their role is to facilitate communication between the student who needs this accommodation and their instructor. The interpreter should not express personal opinions or participate in class independent from the student.
  • Video and Audio Captions

    All video and audio content must be captioned or have a transcript. To do this, become familiar with the tools to make your video or audio content accessible and then edit captions with this Kaltura how-to.

    Use this step-by-step guide to add extended time on tests and exams in Canvas for students who need this as an accommodation.

    For in-person exams, students can use the DSP Testing Center. Students must schedule quizzes, tests and midterm exams at least five days in advance. For final exams, students are expected to schedule these 10 days in advance.

    When a student is scheduled to take an exam in the DSP Testing Center, you will be notified a few days before the scheduled date and given instructions on how to upload the quiz, test, midterm or final exam.

    Learn more about the Testing Center and how to arrange testing accommodations.

Web Content Accessibility

Since DU uses Canvas and offers online courses, you can ensure that your class is accessible for all students by making your website content accessible.

Learn More (FPO)

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Captioning Requests and Resources

To request live captioning for an upcoming event or to learn about resources for captioning video or other media visit our Captioning Requests and Resources page linked below.

Captioning Requests and Resources