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.