Multimodal educational content: a must towards universal accessibility

In order to make the educational content accessible to the greatest number of pupils, whether they have learning difficulties or not, the concept of multimodality is essential. Jean Chouinard, advisor to the RÉCIT national service in special education, presents many examples.

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In order to make the educational content accessible to the greatest number of pupils, whether they have learning difficulties or not, the concept of multimodality is essential. This means that the material will be offered in different forms: written, oral, pictorial, etc.

Jean Chouinard, advisor to the RÉCIT national service in special education, presented numerous examples of multimodal educational content during a lunchtime conference presented by the Edteq Association at the end of May.

From the outset, Mr. Chouinard recalled that accessible educational content is appropriate for all students (with or without difficulty). They serve to improve, improve, support the ability to. They can also be used to alleviate, bypass, compensate for difficulties or incapacities. In all cases, they make it possible to read, understand, write, produce, process or interact.

A resource is accessible when it is available and usable by the greatest number of students, including students with marked difficulties or disabilities with or without recourse to their reading and writing assistance functions.

During his presentation, Mr. Chouinard also reminded editors of educational resources of the importance of thinking about accessibility when designing new resources. “Yes, it is possible to adapt them afterwards, but it is always easier when the resource has been designed to be accessible,” he said.

Paper vs digital

For a long time, paper was the only material used for the production and distribution of educational resources. We only have to think of the famous exercise books.

But why produce a digital format? Quite simply because the paper has its limits and that it is not suitable for about 20 % students, argued Mr. Chouinard. For these students, digital technology becomes a substitution for paper. 

Paper offers text and image content, static, non-modifiable and non-interactive, while digital offers possibilities of improvement through sound, animation, video, etc.

Multimodality in the digital world

Moreover, when you think of digital, you have to think beyond the traditional PDF, which has become "an old digital format", a pale copy of paper. In fact, the digital format makes it possible to go much further since it offers possibilities of multimodiality giving "entry points to improve the ability of students to appropriate the content to be learned".  

Thus, digital technology makes it possible to use help functions to process information (reading, word prediction, etc.), but also to use different modalities simultaneously or in juxtaposition (text, images, sound, video, etc. ) to support learning. For example, a video clip includes moving images, gestures, and sounds, all three delivered together.

We can think of a story that we can read or be read. In digital format, if you choose to have it read to you, you can simply listen to the voice, but it is possible to add a cursor that follows the reading. Pictures can also be used to illustrate the story and help understanding.


Mr. Chouinard ended his presentation by presenting many resources that illustrate his point. We present some of them to you here: 

In addition: consult the website of the RECIT national service in special education

Are you interested in the subject of inclusive education? Have you downloaded our free special issue (digital format) on the subject? It's this way!

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About the Author

Martine Rioux
Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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