Session 6: Accessibility and Inclusive Design

Key Links:


Great to see everyone today for our meeting, @may24a-cohort! Accessibility is often thought about as just being for students with disabilities, but as we see it, accessibility benefits all. It’s about reframing accessibility as a proactive approach to designing inclusive teaching resources and experiences which are rooted in principles of care, humility, and social justice. Inclusive design, or the practice of inclusivity, is the belief that the design of a “thing” – whether it is a piece of technology, an activity, or even information itself – should be mindful of a broad range of users, their variable abilities, their variety of environments, situations, and contexts.

Access is one of the fundamental principles of the open movement broadly. Given OERs’ digital-first nature, this is all the more relevant as resources should not only conform to web accessibility standards, but they should also be designed with the human users in mind. In this way. we will think of web accessibility, content accessibility, and even how this can extend into the accessibility of your human teaching interactions.

While no teaching technique or practice will ever be universally accessible for all, an inclusive education lens can be integrated into any and all approaches as long as you think about accessibility as an ongoing process that has you repeatedly cycle through the following three stages:

(1) Anticipating barriers and (2) finding ways to mediate these barriers (3) to enhance access for all.

We looked at concrete examples for all three of accessibility dimensions in session, namely:

  1. Technical Dimension:

a. BCcampus Accessibility Toolkit as a guide to help non-technical users make content accessible, including images, links, tables, multimedia, formulas, font size.
b. Building a Medical Terminology Foundation We looked at Chapter 6 to see how alt. text for images and image descriptions are presented.
c. Accessibility Assessment To communicate to your users the results of an assessment undertaken towards the end of completing an OER.

  1. Content dimension:

a. Introduction to LGBTQ+ Studies chapter 5 communicates outcomes and aligns the Iearning activities with the written content. As you will clearly see, the content Is informed by different social and cultural perspectives.

  1. Human dimension:

a. Building Democracy for All The introduction to this text will show you how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles have informed its design and Active Learning opportunities were incorporated to further engage the learners in unique ways.
b. Students and instructor users in the course/material/program evaluation and development processes, e.g. through adoption and user feedback surveys.

For some of you, this might be the first time you’re hearing about these concepts and considering them this deeply. It takes time to develop these skills, and it is a practice.

There is no expectation that you will immediately incorporate everything described here with the resources we shared. Check with your grant organiser if and what accessibility stipulations are to help you focus and put a plan in place how you will meet the requirements. With forethought and flexibility, accessibility is built into the process of publishing. Try not to be overwhelmed. Take small steps because these small steps will go a long way. And remember you are uniting your efforts with other people within your teams, within this cohort, within your institutions or beyond. If everyone chips away at a small task, you’ll bring the resource leaps ahead. Ultimately, it’s about giving your resource the best chance to make an impact and difference for people.

Homework Activity

Visit the Universal Design for Learning website with the guidelines that we reviewed in our session. On the homepage, you will find the guidelines at the bottom of the page in the areas of engagement, representation, and action & expression. Pick one area (either a single guideline or a box) and follow the link to a fuller description. In a response to this post, explain how you would incorporate that aspect(s) into your OER book or course.

Looking forward to seeing you next week for session 7.

“Clarify vocabulary and symbols”

It would be great to have hyperlinks whenever new terminology/abbreviations/acronyms are introduced - we could link these to a glossary so students could quickly look them up if they get confused.

1 Like

“Action and Expression, Executive Functions, Facilitate managing information and resources”

I believe the authors will have greater authority over which aspects will be incorporated into the OER course. However, I am happy to suggest areas where it might be helpful to have graphic organizers or prompts.

1 Like

Expression and Communication
Use multiple media for communication
Express learning in flexible ways.

Our text, Foundational Skills, will take into account multiple methods of delivering content and ways to assess learning. It is very important to us as a team to meet these students where they are with the foundational content.

“Activate or Supply Background Knowledge”

We can incorporate this by linking to a short introductory/refresher video before introducing a new topic in the text. The goal would be to remind students of the knowledge they already possess and pique their interest for what is to come.

I chose the guideline “Offer alternatives for visual information” because it is a topic that came up during our breakout session on Monday. We discussed options for teaching anatomy to blind students such as including spoken captions, text-to-speech software, recorded lectures, and tactile models. Models are used routinely for teaching anatomy, and more detailed models can be fashioned for face-to-face classes relatively easily. This may be a challenge for online students, though. It is definitely something we can look into some more.

Optimize relevance, value, and authenticity.
For the Nutrition cohort, we are exploring ways to improve the relevance, value, and authenticity of the “good science” info sources. At the same time, we aim to address some of the misleading information often found on social media. Our goal is to equip students with the skills to distinguish between fact and fiction using critical thinking.

We will develop activities that lead to authentic learning outcomes, involve real audiences, and serve a clear purpose for the participants. For example, students will be tasked with creating a one-week meal plan that adheres to a specific budget and meets certain nutritional goals.

As a multimedia/journalism instructor, the use of multimedia in lessons, is something I value. The guidelines state, “There is no medium of expression that is equally suited for all learners or for all kinds of communication.” That is something I agree with. I will often say, “While, there is no one correct way there are many wrong ways to show/tell.” We need to aware of individual students learning preferences and abilities. Utilizing multiple medias/tools will allow students to scale forward. The guidelines note this in the section focused on fluency building. The guidelines state, “This means that they often need multiple scaffolds to assist them as they practice and develop independence.” Allowing students multiple tools and ways of experiencing a lesson will help them build competency.
Our team has discussed the use of multimedia and tools within the text. There are plans to include visual support aspects, audio cues and other styles of media. These can be included as “text boxes” or within text. Depending on need and lesson type.

Engagement using checkpoint 7.2. I believe in lecturing through real-life experiences. I would love to incorporate this concept into the anatomy and physiology OER especially with COVID still being relevant this will be an excellent wait to teach the respiratory and immune system chapters.

I already utilized variations of checkpoint 7.2- optimize relevance, value, and authenticity in my courses by giving real world examples in my lessons. However, I love the idea of expanding this concept to authentic, meaningful activities. I think our group’s idea of adding “Louisiana Lagniappe” sections to our textbook chapters (Cancer Alley or conditions and diseases that are more prevalent in Louisiana) can accomplish this.

With a background in business, I naturally gravitate to executive functions. I agree with conversation that executive functions cannot be fully addressed while students are concerned with lower level functions. However, goal-setting is a conversation I have with all of my students. And, it is a perfect fit for our OER, since goal-setting is one of our topics. I firmly believe in not just providing students with the skills needs to set goals, but also how to monitor and pivot when needed is essential.

“Optimize individual choice and autonomy”’
Student buy-in is a crucial piece of any class, especially to ensure success in the course and in achieving learning objectives. There are several ways to engage students in course material, but an effective way is to increase student choice as this method provides the student with a degree of autonomy. As the UDL description explains, providing student choice is not simply presenting options, but it must be mindfully chosen. Students differ in the degree to which they want to make choices, so options must be provided for a range of participation and levels. Choice may be easiest to incorporate into a variety of types, length, and style of assignments.

I was not at the last meeting, but I choose Provide options for Self Regulation: Develop self-assessment and reflection. It is crucial for students to determine what they do and don’t know. I hope that we can incorporate pauses that ask students to think about what they’ve just read and to ask themselves to rephrase in their own words, etc.

I would provide multiple means of “Engagement” (sustaining Effort & Persistence). More specifically, through varying demands and resources to optimize challenges, learners will acquire additional technical and soft skills and abilities that will provide opportunities to apply concepts learned. This in turn may motivate the learner to transition from memorization to learning/retainment. Examples of skills that the learner will acquire include, but are not limited to, critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem-solving.

Were you able to view the video of the meeting?

“Heighten salience of goals and objectives”
Clearly labeling learning objectives both for the entirety of the course and for each chapter/lesson is very important.

Expression & Communication CHECKPOINT 5.1 Use multiple media for communication. I really like using multiple forms of media. I think it will just break up the text and make it easier to follow and allow students to be more engaged. Also I’m in the CDL group so I think visuals and videos will be incredibly useful

Also Provide options for Language & Symbols CHECKPOINT 2.1 Clarify vocabulary and symbols will be very important, again with dealing with CDL there will be different types of vehicles in question, so vocabularies will be varies so it would be necessary to make sure everything is clarified so that everyone can understand and apply it across the board

Under Session 6 Assignment: Expression & Communication options-Use multiple tools for construction and composition (Checkpoint 5.2)-I would like to design our OER text where we use interactive web tools such as fun and interesting discussion forums as well as animation presentations to help aid student learning using these multiple types of media for communication in our OER created text.

I chose building fluencies in the action & expression area. Menu planning exercises provide students with hands-on practice with recommended macronutrient distribution ranges, units conversions and critical thinking analysis. If there were a program that incorporated AI to give immediate feedback in a progressive way it would be an effective, practical and interesting way for students to learn a multitude of concepts.