What is Accessibility?
Federal law and CSU policy provides that no qualified individual with a disability be denied access to or participation in services, programs, and activities at San Diego State University. Instructional materials that are not accessible can actually impede student learning. Instructional materials in electronic form such as Microsoft Office documents, PDF documents, videos, online tutorials, and podcasts can be made accessible to students with disabilities.
What is Universal Design for Learning?
“Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based framework for designing curricula—that is, educational goals, methods, materials, and assessments—that enable all individuals to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. This is accomplished by simultaneously providing rich supports for learning and reducing barriers to the curriculum, while maintaining high achievement standards for all students.” (source: CAST.org). Thus, UDL is not about altering standards, but rather providing multiple paths by which learners may acquire and demonstrate mastery of learning outcomes. For example, a student for whom English is a second language would benefit from the ability to both hear and read lecture content through podcasts with transcripts, and from the option of presenting projects orally or in written form.
Details about accessibility requirements and UDL at SDSU: it.sdsu.edu/accessibility/instructional-materials/
Ally software pilot
Instructional Technology Services is piloting the Ally software. The Ally software integrates with the Blackboard Learning Management System and helps with assessing the accessibility of course content. Faculty are guided by the Ally software, which helps them make small changes that have a large impact on the students’ interactions with course materials. Ally also converts course documents to alternative formats. For example, students can “listen” to text documents while reading them. Multiple modes of engaging with course content potentially increases comprehension for all students, and augments resources for students with disabilities and students for whom English is a second language. This brief video gives an overview of Ally.
During the Spring of 2019, Communication Studies (Oral Communication, COMM 103) engaged in a large-scale pilot of Ally. After administering a pre and post-course survey to students in COMM 103, we found that student respondents’ (N=~2,000) self-reported awareness of alternative formats (PDF, HTML, mp3, etc.) increased. While students shared that they most frequently access course materials on their phones, an overwhelming majority prefer to work on their courses using a laptop computer. A full report is forthcoming. For more information about Universal Design and Accessibility efforts, please contact Instructional Designer, Jon Rizzo (email@example.com).
What assistance does ITS provide?
Evaluation of course materials and media Training on creation of accessible documents Assistance finding accessible media Recommendations for infusing UDL principles in your course Assistance working with video and audio materials that need transcripts or captioning Techniques for working with diverse learners and diverse learning styles
How do I get started?
Contact Jon Rizzo, Instructional Materials Design Specialist, to learn about upcoming accessibility and UDL events sponsored by ITS or for a personal consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org.