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Learner-Centered Design: Best Practices

Best practices in learner-centered design for a diverse classroom.

Best Practices

student with glasses at front of class

student who has white cane and sunglasses listens to recordingstudent with head brace at desk with computerdifferently abled written by hand from man with smiling facestudent watches and listens to video at computerstudent in lab reads on smartphone



  • Use multi-media, multiple ways of communicating.
  • Use web accessibility as an integral part of course design to improve learning outcomes for all students.
  • Start with making syllabi, PowerPoints, and PDFs web-accessible.

Equal Access - What IPFW Offers Students!

Specialized Support for Students with Disabilities

Services for Students with Disabilities:  Accessibility and accommodation for students with disabilities.

Specialized Support for Multicultural, International, and Special Interests

Specialized Support for Academic Skills and Technology

Additional IPFW Support for All Students

Style Sets

Computer is Not a Typewriter

Syllabus Templates

Style Basics in Word

Image Descriptions

Descriptions of images allow screen reader devices to read aloud what a student might not see well or at all if he or she has a visual deficit.  Sometimes the labels for where to place the descriptions appear as ALT TEXT (alternative text) and sometimes as ALT TAG (alternative tag).  The point of the description is to be descriptive, such as "group of students in a computer lab seated in rows, with one student in the front row who is wearing glasses."  Simply stating "image of student" would not convey the description.

Appropriate Use of Alternative Text

PowerPoint Design

These guidelines for design can also be adapted to other documents.  PowerPoints were originally intended for large-group presentations, but have come into popular use in online learning for lecture notes or study guides.  Often, it would be better to use another format for these purposes.  However, when PowerPoint is used, the file needs to be web accessible, and it should be copied into an accessible PDF format for ease of viewing.  For how to make PowerPoints web-accessible, go to the Resources tab. 

Guide Developers

Image of Ludy Goodson, Blonde hair, fair skin, blue top

Ludy Goodson,
Senior Instructional
Consultant and Designer,
(260) 481-0692.

Image of Kathie Surface, light brown hair, smoky taube jacket
Kathie Surface,
Faculty Support Specialist,
IT Services,
Kettler Hall, Room 205A,,
(260) 481-6392.

Image Sources

Images for "Getting Started!" section came from these sources.

How to Create a Culturally Diverse Classroom (eHow): student in front row with glasses.

Colleges Lock Out Blind Students in Online Classes (Chronicle): student listens to recording.

Inspiring Student: Anthony Bonelli! (The Artichoke, Montreal): student with head brace at desk.

Current Business News (University of Texas): "differently abled" on chalkboard.

In Perpetuity (Shoah Foundation): student viewing video at computer.

Smartphones Assist Deaf Undergrads in the Lab ( student uses smartphone in lab.