Our team models and supports accessible pedagogical practices and technology tools that promote equity and inclusivity in the classroom and the community. We believe accessibility is crucial to educational success. What is accessibility?
Accessibility is an educational tenet that dictates that all students be able to access and interact with learning materials in ways suitable to their needs. In the classroom and in other learning environments, this means that students should be able to access all course materials and technology tools equitably and without undue hardship. For example, if students who are hard-of-hearing do not have access to captioned video lectures, their learning suffers through no fault of their own. If homework readings are formatted in such a way that screen readers cannot read them, students who are blind and low-vision have no way of completing their homework. Accessibility implores and shows us how to teach against these oft-neglected forms of discrimination. All students, faculty, and staff should have equal access to resources, services, content, and technology tools. This isn't just inclusive, equitable pedagogy, it's also district policy and the law.
Ideally, all course design, no matter the modality, should center on accessibility. This is the core of Universal Design for Learning, a framework for building accessibility (among other equity issues) into your course by designing content for the millions of people who have undisclosed and/or invisible disabilities. Universal Design pushes us to proactively build in multiple means of representation to provide learners various ways to acquire information; multiple means of expression to provide students with more than one way to express their knowledge; and multiple means of engagement so that learners are provided opportunities to engage with their own interests and challenges. We recommend devoting the first day or week of your class to having a conversation with all your students about accessibility and asking what they need in order to be able to fully access your course.
What are your accessibility responsibilities as faculty or a staff member? You are responsible for making sure that your content is accessible. This includes alternative text for images and all non-text material, descriptive hyperlinks, captioned videos, and use of color and design. There are various tools in Canvas (ALLY) and in the Microsoft Office suite to check and improve the accessibility of your content. If any or all of these items sound unfamiliar to you, don't worry. Start small and build on your knowledge over time – small changes will go a long way for all of your students. Our Instructional Designers are here to help you get started and to help all along the way. Please reach out to us with any questions. Our eLearning team also includes Canvas administrators, program coordinators, and instructional technologists to assist with issues outside of our instructional design expertise.
Our LEAD program also has courses devoted to accessibility. If you are a full-time or part-time faculty member at any of the Seattle Colleges and are interested in these courses, please check out our LEAD page. If you complete the LEAD the program, you will receive a $500 stipend.
Elisa Lewis, 3Play Media – Accessibility Best Practice: Speaking about Disabilities
University of Washington Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO IT) – Invisible Disabilities
Dana S. Dunn and Erin E. Andrews, American Psychological Association – Choosing Words for Talking about Disability