26 February 2013

Accessibility for All Students: Universal Design

Accessibility for All Students: Universal Design

Dr. Lisa Lawter and Beth Richard

Architects, what kind of questions do they ask when they are preparing to design a building? This is the same kind of questions we should ask when we design courses.

Brain Research

  • recognition
  • strategic
  • affective


  • Why accomodate? What's the purpose? 
  • Social skills of the students
  • Give disability students the ability to have input
  • Is the accommodation acceptable?
  • Practical: pull a student into a chat room and have a one on one? (JB - Consider adobe connect or google hangout for synchronous opportunities at SNU)

We are doing the Universal Design upfront. Consider what different students might need. That way you don't get blindsided as an instructor.


  • include written instructions, not only audible
  • one on one if needed
  • more time
  • additional instructions
  • USE THE WRITING CENTER (UTWC) (JB kind of like RTFM, right? This should be a no-brainer)
  • give options for showing content knowledge/understanding
  • stimulate student interest (JB - this is huge! think about why your students should WANT to learn. this is "just good pedagogy")


  • what disability types might you encounter? how can technology help with this? (might be LMS specific)
  • class size
  • broad range of learners (JB - this is especially important in a Gen Ed class vs. a higher level content class - students come with differing ways of knowing, with varying levels of knowledge)
  • some learners HAVE to use mobile technology so consider what your class would look like on that device - make courses platform/device agnostic

Tools and Tips

  • Visual impairment - JAWS, MAGic, Open book
  • Auditory impairment - captions, dragon dictation, ...

Tips for Design

  • Organize pages using headers - think about visual readers here
  • Captions!


(JB - everyone one of these things are GOOD PEDAGOGY! THis should apply to course design, even beyond accessibility. I'm not implying that we don't need to have this conversation, but what I mean is that if you are considering best practices for teaching, this kind of thing is taken care of - for the most part)
  • Multiple ways of knowing - oral, written, hands-on. (JB - what options can you give for students to share their understanding)
  • flexible schedule for assignments? 
  • Make connections - stay in touch
  • Make opportunities for collaboration

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