Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can reduce many barriers for all instructors and learners. Instructors and learners can work together to design multiple ways for learners to demonstrate that they have achieved mastery of course concepts and are moving toward and completing course objectives. Engaging with learners and the course material in this way is especially important when every learner may face a challenge in accessing course material and completing their courses differently from how they anticipated at the beginning of the semester.
Instructors and learners may face multiple challenges accessing online material.
- Some communities do not have sufficiently robust infrastructure to support every instructor and learner online simultaneously.
- Instructors and learners may also face challenges from their equipment, and/or may need some additional ways to access and participate in courses in an online format.
To accommodate their learners, instructors will want to provide scripts and/or captioning for lectures and videos, for example. These scripts are often smaller information packets while lectures or videos are much larger information packets. Instructors may also want to provide rubrics for assignments and assessments and engage learners in helping them to imagine ways to demonstrate progress towards and mastery of learning objectives. These practices also accommodate instructors and learners who find multiple modalities for accessing information and achieving course objectives essential to their learning.
Some essential considerations:
- Include only necessary and content-driven images and add the alternative descriptions as you work
- Use captioning when you record lectures and edit for accuracy. You can edit captioning in recordings you upload into YouTube.
- Use an accessible font, like Veranda
- Use high contrast colors
- Avoid using underlining and bold to make a point
- Provide links to online resources and/or order a digital course packet for hard to come by resources instead of scanning and uploading as a PDF
To assess digital content you collect for accessibility:
- Test that PDFs you find online are tagged and searchable
- Ask publishers to provide online or digital content (like PowerPoints) that meet accessibility standards
- Provide links for websites with working links and accessible font and contrast colors
- Check that third-party YouTube videos have accurate captioning (if they do not provide a transcript)
- Check to see if the tools provide learners with accessibility statements and contact information for online tools like Blackboard, Zoom, VoiceThread, YouTube, Poll Everywhere, Flip Grid, etc.
Other aspects of course design may also require specific disability-related accommodations. For learners already approved for testing and/or classroom accommodations, reach out to the assigned disability access counselor for guidance and support. Additionally, the migration to an on-line format may present disability-related barriers not present in the physical classroom. For assistance, reach out to the Office of Disability Services.