Traditionally, accessibility has been approached as accommodation for the needs of students with disabilities. Students with a hearing impairment would require access to captions/transcript to make use of a video lecture. Students who are color blind would not be able to access messages conveyed through different colors (e.g. in annotations). Such accommodation was understood primarily as a necessary condition for these students’ engagement with course material and ultimately their learning success.
Today, accessibility is increasingly seen as a valuable enabler for many more groups of students and the focus has shifted to building it into course design (e.g. through the application of Universal Design for Learning, UDL) rather than offering it as an add-on. Accessibility features, such as captioned/transcribed videos can be easier to access for non-native speakers or for those studying in shared spaces where audio is not an option. Using higher contrast colors and less text in slides makes it easier to see for the students sitting in the back row of a lecture hall. Here, accessibility is defined by ‘ease of access’.
Teaching & Learning endorses the view that accessibility should be seen as a benefit for all students rather than a few select groups. To support this, we have put together two brief guides to creating accessible teaching materials. You can find them below together with further details on each recommendation.
Universal Design for Learning
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimise teaching and learning for all based on scientific insights into how humans learn. If you want to know more, you can find further information here: https://udlguidelines.cast.org/.
– Making your PowerPoint presentation more accessible (link)
– Making your videos more accessible (link)
– How to download Assist (link)
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