Inclusive design aims to make resources both accessible and valuable to a diverse range of people. The principles of inclusive design include attempting to create a comparable experience among users, a consideration of each user’s context, an emphasis on giving control and offering choices to users, and the prioritisation of content through ensuring that design decisions add value to the content.


In 1990, the New Zealand government required that all tertiary education institutions should act to improve access to and participation by a wide range of New Zealanders. The Education Act 1990 states that it is the duty of the institution to acknowledge the principles of Treaty of Waitangi, and to encourage the greatest possible participation by the communities served by the institution, with particular emphasis on under-represented groups.

There is increasing pressure for the NZ government to set out legislation around minimum accessibility standards for public infrastructure and published materials – many other countries already have some form of accessibility legislation.  It would be wise (and ethical) for anyone designing new materials to be proactive.


The University of Auckland’s equity policy outlines its commitment to creating inclusive and equitable learning experiences for students. The University also adheres to the New Zealand Code of Practice for an Inclusive Tertiary Education Environment for Students with Impairments, Kia Ōrite – Achieving Equity.  

A special interest group at the University has created an Inclusive Design for Online Accessibility poster for University staff, and are working on an exemplar course on Canvas featuring ‘how-to’ guides for lecturers using this platform.

Some basic principles of inclusive design for online learning include: providing summary course details on a single page, clear assessment information, and a linear layout.  Lecturers/designers are encouraged to provide course materials in a timely manner, to use plain language when writing for students, and to use Canvas’ Heading Styles to ensure that content is well structured, consistent, attractive and legible.

Tools and Tips

Accessibility Poster


24 Ways. What the Heck is Inclusive Design? [website].

Inclusive Design Principles [website].

Achieve. Kia Ōrite – Code Of Practice [website].

New Zealand Government Web Toolkit. Web Accessibility Standard 1.0 [website].

New Zealand Government Web Toolkit. Web Accessibility Standard 1.2 [website].

Web Accessibility Initiative. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview [website].

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