We know that faculty at SOU want to make sure that all students have the opportunity to be successful, and we know that inclusion of diverse learners is an important value that faculty have. This list of tips is to give you a starting point to make a big difference for your students with a small amount of effort.
Hey, first thing accomplished! You're on this page, curious to know more about how to make your class accessible. Like any other aspect of instruction, taking some time to learn a bit more can reap huge benefits. There is always more to know.
Academic language is (in)famous for striving for absolute precision rather than simplicity. Wherever possible, use shorter sentences and fewer syllables. This is especially important with directions. Keeping language as simple as possible will help not only students with learning disabilities, but also students whose first language is not English.
Consider also your choices of technology, matching it to the goals for your activity or class. Prezi (which is inaccessible) is pretty, sure, but is it really more effective than PowerPoint?
Face the class when speaking
This is particularly important for students with hearing loss, but is also helpful for all students as they are picking up new terminology from you. If you're drawing or writing on the board, draw first and then speak. Or get a student to draw or write while you talk!
Consider font readability
Small, sans-serif fonts like Ariel or Calibri are much more legible when at 12 point or larger. Use only one or two fonts in a document, and avoid the fussy, "cute" ones.
Wherever possible, distribute digital versions of in-class materials in advance
Students can be more prepared for class if they know what to expect of it before they get there. This is particularly helpful for students with disabilities and students whose first language is not English, but it's also useful for shy students who want to think over how to participate! Further, providing materials in advance allows students who need to use assistive technology to read the material and be ready to participate, rather than struggling through the print and the content at the same time.
Make sure those digital materials are accessible
The Web Accessibility Resources page provides you with information about doing this, but there are also several people to help you! The Center for Instructional Support can provide you with more info, as can Shawn Foster and Lizzie Parkhurst in Disability Resources.
Be aware that some software has accessibility problems
SOU is making significant efforts to ensure accessibility of the products used for instruction and other student interactions, but some students may still encounter barriers. As we identify known problems and workarounds, we will list them here.
If this information still doesn't address the student's barrier, allow the use of an alternative application or process. In other words, don't assign work where the only option to complete it involves the use of an inaccessible tool.
- Google Apps Accessibility information (courtesy of the University of Michigan)
- Moodle Accessibility information (courtesy of the University of Minnesota)
- My___Lab materials have variable accessibility across the different subjects, especially for students with vision disabilities. It may be necessary to find an alternative method to support student practice/homework instead of using My__Lab.
Keep building bridges
If an accommodation request concerns you, please contact the Coordinator of Disability Resources immediately. We are able to find a way to bridge the concern the faculty member has with the access that the student needs if we're able to talk it through. You are the expert in your subject matter. Disability Resources is the expert in disability accommodation. Together, we can make sure that student learning happens.