Day 25. 4 Quick Tips to Make Your Teaching More Accessible

By Yanina Bellini Saibene in Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30

May 30, 2024

A board sign with the text Welcome, please come in.

Foto de Aaron Burden en Unsplash

Our students may face different challenges when participating in our classes. As teachers, it is our responsibility to take steps to ensure that everyone who wants to participate can do so. 

Here are some recommendations to keep in mind when planning your teaching:

1. Make “accessible” your usual perspective.

Accessibility must be part of your process from the beginning. You can’t and shouldn’t treat accessibility as an afterthought. Otherwise, it will be harder to integrate and achieve, if not impossible. 

Developing accessible lessons and materials is an iterative process. With small steps, we can improve our lessons so that more and more people can access them.

For example, you can start by:

  • add alt-text to all your pictures, 

  • describe your visualizations, 

  • use open formats for your materials,

  • add speaker notes to your slides,

  • check the size of the font and the contrast of the colors,

  • use the correct formating for titles, subtitles, text body, etc.

  • add subtitles to your videos, 

  • provide transcripts,

  • share your material in advance, at least 24 hours before the event.

2. Know your audience, so ask.

Never take for granted what someone may or may not need. Asking about learners' needs and what to do is always appropriate. When you advertise, your class makes clear how people can request accommodations. The registration form can be a good place to allow people to request accommodations.

Remember, “Nothing about us without us” was adopted by disability activists in the 1990s to highlight that people facing challenges can decide what help they need.

3. Inform clearly what you can accommodate.

Be clear from the beginning about what type of accommodation you will provide, such as subtitles, sign language, or simultaneous translation. Don’t expect people to ask. 

You can also create accessibility profiles and include them in your learner personas definition, course or workshop webpage, and material.

Mention which platform or software you will use when teaching and share the lesson materials in advance.

All this information will help people decide whether or not they can participate. 

4. Use checklists and tools to check for accessibility issues.

The UK Home Office  Designing for accessibility posters presents a comprehensive list of common challenges with “do” and “don’t” related to each one. 

There are software tools that help us check for common problems. For example,  WebAIM WAVE is a browser plugin that checks things like whether images have alt text, tables have headers, or text and background colors have a good contrast to be read easily.

You can also explore Universal Design for Learning and use diverse methods for instruction.

Depending on where you will be teaching, the institution may have policies, guidelines, and an accessibility office that can support you. Check with your institution. 

Start applying these tips today and make accessibility part of your process. It is not only the right thing to do, but in no time, you won’t be able to plan your teaching any other way in no time.

Posted on:
May 30, 2024
3 minute read, 498 words
Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30
Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30
See Also:
Proyecto 2 - Las Estrellas del Universo R
Project 2 - The Stars of R-Universe
Project 1 - rOpenSci's Code of Conduct and Code of Conduct Committee