October 4, 2011
Use Universal Design to make course syllabi and handouts accessible with screen readers
Universal Design describes an approach to design that eliminates problems with accessibility for all users during design rather than retrofitting and correcting obstacles.
Many students use screen readers to access electronic documents and web pages. A bit of planning will enable you to create electronic documents and web pages that can be accessed and correctly read by the screen readers used by students with disabilities.
How can you avoid creating common obstacles that interfere with correct interpretation of electronic text or web pages by screen readers?
Insert a table to organize and format material such as a course calendar or chart for assigning grades to exam or assignment scores
Screen readers do not always read text that is enclosed in a text box correctly. If you are in the habit of creating tables with tabs and indents (as was done on typewriters), the screen reader might not read this material properly. Format this material with the table function instead.
Provide a caption or “alternative text” to explain the meaning of images
Screen readers cannot interpret images for users unless you provide a text description that explains the image in the document. You can provide this information in one of two ways:
Based in part on advice from the Technology & Learning Program, California State University, Chico.
October 26, 2010
Balance flexibility and fairness when designing courses
Learner-centeredness shifts responsibility for learning to students by creating varied learning opportunities and multiple evaluation options that allow students to make choices and determine how they will demonstrate their learning (Weimer, 2002). Learner-centered course designs simultaneously hold students responsible for their learning and provide allowances for flexibility when life “interrupts” their studies, while preserving our “lines in the sand” for academic standards and our sanity.
Students need to know that submitting work late creates obstacles for getting and using feedback effectively. Still, life sometimes gets in the way of the best of intentions. Instructors who provide flexible solutions for these situations create opportunities for students to manage deadlines and learn material without delivering instructions or course material multiple times.
Examples of course design ideas that accomplish this:
Weimer, M. (2002). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
This tip was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium, (sponsored by Western Kentucky University) by Mark Potter, Center for Faculty Development, Metropolitan State College of Denver.
October 5, 2010
Request closed captioning feature or obtain a companion transcript when ordering DVDs to ensure compliance with ADA
Segments of video from a DVD can be a great way to liven up a lecture or engage students with material in an online course. However, instructors should be aware of the ADA implications associated with these materials, which might not be accessible to a student who has difficulty hearing.
Many commercial materials are available with closed captioning and/or printed transcript options. When ordering these materials, request these features to prevent future difficulties if a student who needs accommodations for hearing impairments enrolls in your class. Although making transcripts available to accommodate students with documented disabilities is necessary for ADA compliance, including these features for all students is beneficial to student learning. Hearing students appreciate having access to a transcript to clarify speech that might be garbled in the audio or to rapidly review the content in follow-up study. Arranging for closed captioning or transcripts for existing materials can be extremely costly. These expenses can be avoided if care is taken at the time departments place orders for these materials.
Learn how to turn on the closed caption or subtitles feature of DVDs used in class. In addition to being prepared to accommodate the needs of hearing impaired students, displaying the captions will benefit students who may have difficulty hearing the audio because of poor quality sound systems, a noisy air handler in the room, a groundskeeper running equipment adjacent to the building, or various auditory distractions created by other students. Many difficulties can be forestalled if these features are requested when placing an order.
Thanks to the following members of the UWF community for assistance with this tip:
Dr. Vannee Cao Nguyen, SDRC
Dr. Ray Uzwyshyn, Head of Digital and Learning Technologies, Pace Library
Dr. Vance Burgess, Director, Distance & Continuing Education
Dr. Michael White, ITS
April 13, 2010
What is Universal Design of Instruction?
Universal Design of Instruction (UDI) is an approach to teaching that consists of a proactive design and use of inclusive instructional strategies that benefit a broad range of learners including students with disabilities.
The seven principles of UDI provide a framework for faculty to use when designing or revising instruction to be responsive to diverse student learners and to minimize the need for "special" accommodations and retrofitted changes to the learning environment. UDI operates on the premise that the planning and delivery of instruction as well as the evaluation of learning can incorporate inclusive attributes that embrace diversity in learners without compromising academic standards.
Seven Principles of UDI
Information about UDI is from the University of Washington DO-IT program.
The guidelines are from The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina University.
Thanks to Vannee Cao-Nguyen, Ed.D., Assistant Director of the UWF Student Disability Resource Center for this teaching tip.
October 7, 2008
Use a variety of strategies to engage students with varied learning skills
Universal Design is an architectural concept in which designers anticipate the needs of all potential users and design buildings that will be accessible to diverse users without retrofitting. Similarly, Universal Instructional Design (UID) is a proactive approach to the design of course instruction, materials, and content to accommodate diverse learning strategies and specific constraints imposed by documented medical conditions, physical disabilities, or learning disabilities without requiring additional modifications. Course concepts are designed to be educationally accessible regardless of learning style or ability by including instructional strategies that
All students bring diverse learning strategies to the classroom. These varied learning styles may include preferences for one of the following activities:
Although students may prefer to use one learning strategy more than other strategies, they should be encouraged to practice using less-preferred strategies. Practice with multiple strategies will strengthen their skill with less familiar or less preferred strategies and will enlarge the student’s repertoire of effective learning strategies.
Learn more about Universal Instructional Design:
Higbee, J. L., Chung, C. J., & Hsu, L. (2008). Enhancing the inclusiveness of first-year courses through Universal Instructional Design. In J. L. Higbee and E. Goff (Eds.), Pedagogy and student services for institutional transformation: Implementing Universal Design in higher education. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, Pedagogy and Student Services for Institutional Transformation.
University of Minnesota: Pedagogy and Student Services for Institutional Transformation (University of Minnesota)
Tip based on a contribution by:
Tasha J. Souza
Faculty Development Coordinator, Humboldt State University
October 9, 2007
Engaging students with disabilities can sometimes be a challenge. When a student requests accommodations for a disability, refer the student to the Student Disability Resource Center (474–2387) for registration and determination of appropriate accommodations. This may be the student’s first step in attaining access to additional services and support for academic success provided through SDRC.
Faculty responses to students with disabilities sometimes require special awareness and education. For more information about working with students with disabilities, contact the Student Disability Resource Center (474-2387).
Updated 03/29/13 lrg
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