How do you teach a face-to-face class in an accessible way?

Face to face instruction is often a challenge for students with a variety if impairments.  In the past, we have tended to rely on accommodation to bring the student up to a level playing field with other students, but there are small changes we can make to our face-to-face instructional methods that will be more inclusive and supportive of all students.

WSU has created a set of Face-to-Face Standards, which are a great place to start. These were created based on a variety of ADA standards and then reviewed and adjusted based on extensive faculty feedback. They represent a good first step in making any classroom experience more accessible for students.

There are some key themes you’ll see in those standards:

  • Same Content, Same time: It’s critical that students who need content are able to access that content at the same time as their peers. In most cases, that means that the content needs to be presented ahead of time for them.
  • Avoid asking students to identify themselves as a person with a disability. Many of the guidelines, like making sure the text presented on a whiteboard or screen is big enough to be reasonably read from the back of the room, are there so that we don’t create a situation where we ask students with a particular trait sit in one part of the classroom or another.
  • Laying good groundwork: several of the recommendations ask that we do things like track all of our communications through the university Learning Management System — and that all of the course content is available there.  This makes it easier for everyone to access later, and has the added advantage of making it easier for teams that may come later to provide accommodations.

 

 

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