M8 UDL response

I was a bit surprised when none of the three UDL articles employed the techniques they recommended.  David Rose and Jenna Gravel’s first suggestion was use multiple means of representation, followed soon thereafter by use different sensory modalities. However, a student with a visual disability would not have access to their article because the authors only presented flat text without sound. Most of this pointed to the popular assumption that those who are teaching online courses do not have disabilities, but only need to know how to adapt their courses for those who do.

The Sloan Consortium has produced three 90-minute webinars (http://onlinelearningconsortium.org/institute/webinars/2013/accessibility-series ) addressing online education that is accessible. Each of those webinars has two text versions – one of which highlights each word as it is spoken –  and one voice thread along with other visuals.  While it’s far more accessible, it’s still a bit boring, but that’s how most webinars are conceived and produced.

As I reflect on our summer learning about students as producers, I am reminded that one of the most important things I can do in designing a course accessible to the particular students in my class is to ask them to help me with that design. This would be an impossible task for some courses, I suppose, but I believe it is quite possible with a three-year professional degree program with older students who have a rich history of teaching and learning with varieties of disabilities, including the new range of disabilities, sometimes called invisible, hidden or silent.


David Jenkins




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  1. David, thanks for pointing out this irony! And for the link to the webinars (and yes, I agree that most webinars are disappointing!).

    I used one of the tools (Accessibility Valet) linked to at the bottom of our first reading (“Improve Accessibility in Tomorrow’s……”) to check the accessibility of that online article — it failed.

    I think it’s a great idea to have the students help you with the design of the course in your 3 year professional program. That would seem to be one of those ideal situations where that could really happen. Perhaps faculty who mentor graduate students could also leverage those relationships to have student input into their course design.

  2. Thank you, both! I will use these ideas. I continue to learn so much and you have helped that tremendously. I will reflect more on students as producers and how this facilitates accessibility in ways that meet individual and group needs. I will work on that too. Great working with you both! Thank you! Sorry to miss today’s meeting and for the short posts, but got to go to Cleveland now. Kristy

  3. David J. You are absolutely correct. We should practice what we preach. We should model what we teach. I’ll think of some more bumper stickers. Thanks for pointing out that dynamic.

  4. Hi David,
    I particularly resonated with your final paragraph — I think getting student feedback on the courses during the course is a terrific idea. This is part of the formative assessment, I would think. And empowering for your learners. Recognizing your learners’ characteristics – professional, adult, with teaching experience – it critical in your course design. I suppose it is our (the instructors’) responsibility to identify the ‘invisible’, ‘hidden’, ‘silent’ and find means to engage and empower them. Wonderful post. Thanks.

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