Thursday, May 16, 2013

Technology + Accessibility = Engagement

I recently presented at a conference on distributed learning.  Before my session started I was handed a microphone (which I typically prefer not to use) while the computer technician began loading software onto the presenter's computer and running a sound check.  I had no idea what they were doing and was given no insight into why it was happening.  I later surmised that an individual in the audience was hearing impaired and the technology that they were utilizing was translating my spoken words into text so that the individual could participate in the presentation.  Very cool, just wished that they had explained it to me!

I then attended a workshop at the same conference in which this individual was a speaker.  Big a-ha moment here for me!  The presenter spoke about making accommodation in universal design for learning thus providing multiple means of representation, expression and engagement for the students.  Instructors already (hopefully?) make accommodations for different learning styles; making a class universally accessible really is no different. 

but how?  some possibilities are: (*caveat - none of these guarantee 100% accessibility)
  • by incorporating clickers into classroom
  • by utilizing collaborative note-taking such as class created lecture notes via Google docs
  • by using Easy Chirp instead of Twitter which has a cleaner interface
  • by texting
  • by podcasting
  • by using speech recognition software
but really by simply being aware (*caveat - well maybe this one!). 

Want to take a small step in that direction, start by describing the steps that you are taking if you are demonstrating your library web page or other online resource.  It will help everyone in your class understand the information a bit better.  A point that was reiterated by my recent peer evaluation, which suggested that I needed to be more descriptive of the steps that I was taking.

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