Accessing Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs)

Getting started with a VLE

The increasing use of VLEs by schools to deliver homework, provide revision resources and enable home learning can represent an opportunity for pupils with vision impairment to develop their skills for independent learning but it can also present them with unique challenges.

The QTVI has an essential role to support students, their families and school staff by providing advice and training to enhance access to online learning or develop strategies to work towards making online learning accessible.

QTVIs new to the use of VLEs

This resource is intended to provide a starting point from which to develop a personalised solution for each student. Included is general advice for classroom/subject teachers on making their virtual classroom accessible and guides for students and families on using accessibility tools to access the VLE and the resources on it. The amount of direct teaching a pupil will need to learn to use the VLE will need to be assessed by the QTVI.

Limitations of the resource

Due to the numerous combinations of VLE, device, software and software versions, not to mention the variation in use of different access tools by different students, the guides are just that, guides, and not definitive sets of instructions.

A decision was made to focus on Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams as these seem to be the most widely used VLEs in primary and secondary education and to focus on large print users only. It seems reasonable to assume that if a QTVI has already taught a student to use a screen reader they would have the necessary knowledge and skills to extend this to cover use of the screen reader in a VLE.

Accessing VLEs – resource content

To start, we recommend that you download an introduction to the resource including a discussion around the initial considerations.

Google Classroom



Microsoft Teams



Updates and improvements

Technology moves fast so improvements and updates to this resource can only be made in response to feedback from users: emails to regarding errors, suggestions for improvements, comments or questions is therefore welcome.