Beyond the core project team of Co-Leads, Student Scholars, and project supervisors, the FLEX Forward project has benefited substantially from research on accessibility in teaching and learning, and from consultations with faculty, staff, and graduate students from across campus. We describe some of this background context below.


September 2015 to Fall 2016 – Research: Student Scholars with and without disabilities were hired to build a repository of research related to:

  • Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning;
  • Faculty accessibility trainings and resources available through Teaching Institutes at other Ontario universities and colleges;
  • The landscape of accessibility work at McMaster (services, resources, reports, recommendations, training); and
  • Additional resources to support educators in learning accessible teaching practices.


Winter 2015-2016 – Consultations with Faculty: Approximately 50 faculty members from across campus known for an interest in accessibility were contacted through email. 7 registered and attended a focus group (2 from Engineering, 2 from Humanities, 3 from Social Sciences).

  • December 2015: Invitations sent
  • January 2016: Focus Group 1 (Engineering)
  • February 2016: Focus Group 2 (Humanities/Social Sciences)


Spring to Fall 2016 – Accessible Teaching and Learning Advisory Committee (ATLAC):

Purpose: An Accessible Teaching and Learning Advisory Committee (ATLAC) was struck to advise the project and the development of the FLEX Forward resource.

Recruitment: Graduate students involved in teaching were recruited through the weekly newsletter circulated by the School of Graduate Studies, and faculty and instructors via targeted emails to each Faculty. Response was greater than anticipated, with 43 staff, students, and faculty joining ATLAC (McMaster Accessibility Council 2015-2016 Annual Report, 2017).

Meetings: In-person meetings, with a teleconference option, were hosted to share project developments and to elicit feedback on resource content and design. Attendance averaged about 10-15 members for each of 4 meetings held in March, May, June, and November 2016.

An additional online survey option available to ATLAC members in October 2016 facilitated the input and involvement of a diverse membership.


May 2016 – Conference Presentation and Feedback: Kate Brown and Rita Ieshu presented about the project at Guelph University’s Annual Accessibility Conference, and gathered critical feedback and commentary from accessibility-focused community members beyond McMaster.

  • Presentation Title: Fully online AODA compliance training: Questioning its effectiveness through reflection and conversation


Summer 2016 – Faculty Video Interviews: Faculty members recognized as accessibility champions from across the university were contacted to participate in filmed interviews about their commitments and approaches to accessible teaching and learning.

  • Invitations were sent to 17 faculty members, with 11 yes responses (10 to video, 1 to audio)
  • 7 videos were filmed and 1 audio interview recorded; 3 cancellations due to scheduling


October 2016 – Conference Presentation and Feedback: Members of the Project Team (Alise de Bie, Kate Brown, Ali Babar, and Shaila Kumbhare) presented a draft video introduction to the resource and resource plan at McMaster’s Learning Technology Symposium. Symposium attendees and members of ATLAC were invited to offer feedback. Notetakers recorded responses so that they could be integrated into the resource.

  • Presentation Title: “Jump in, start, and go! It’s the right thing to do”: Developing an online teaching and learning resource on accessibility


2015-2017 – Consultations with Staff Experts:

  • In the fall of 2015, accessibility-focused staff from the MacPherson Institute attended a session to offer preliminary feedback on the developmental stages of the resource.
  • In the spring of 2016, Clark Cipryk, Website Accessibility Expert and Assistive Technologist from Student Accessibility Services, offered feedback on the accessibility of the resource format.
  • In the summer of 2016, Devon Mordell, Instructional Designer at the MacPherson Institute, offered feedback on popular principles of accessible education and effective design of online teaching and learning resources.
  • In the winter of 2017, Drs. Erin Allard and Elliot Storm from the MacPherson Institute offered commentary on a draft version of the FLEX Forward resource.


May 10 & June 8, 2017 – Forward with FLEXibility Launch Sessions: Approximately 120 faculty, instructors, and staff from across the university, including many ATLAC members, attended 1 of 2 launch sessions. These sessions involved table discussions of challenges to accessible education, a presentation of the resource, and feedback on and ideas for resource dissemination. A combination of notetakers and comment cards gathered attendee input for inclusion in the resource and launch plan.



Pottier, A. (January 2017). McMaster Accessibility Council 2015-2016 annual report. Submitted to President Patrick Deane, Provost and Vice President (Academic) David Wilkinson, and Vice-President (Administration) Roger Couldrey.


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