Any student who is doing remote learning may face certain accessibility issues, but some students may have extra needs. For instance consider students with psychological disorders (like ADHD, anxiety or depression), chronic health issues, language or calculation disorders (like dyslexia or dyscalculia), visual or hearing impairments or pregnant students. Leiden University offers extra support to students in need, but you can assist them by integrating accessibility in your teaching.
We have integrated these extra accessibility needs in all general articles, which is a continuing process. In this article we will discuss some general tips and tricks from both content and experience experts.
Be clear and consistent in your communication
Chop your education content in small chunks when online
Asynchronous over synchronous teaching
Trust over surveillance
Be aware that during this Corona crisis students are extra nervous and pay attention to what they indicate .If you are aware that certain students have extra needs, then it is best to contact them.
Ensure all your students have a good computer, stable connection to the internet, and can use all tools offered by the university. Check this proactively, e.a. by holding a short survey. Coordinate fit for purpose solutions with study advisors and Fenestra Disability Centre.
Communicate clearly about the new forms and requirements of your education, both in email and on Blackboard or BrightSpace. Create different ways for students to reach you if they are unable to meet the requirements.
Create a Frequently Asked Questions sheet (FAQ sheet) in Blackboard or BrightSpace
Create online office hours so students can pose questions, e.a. in Kaltura Live Room.
Prioritize asynchronous teaching over synchronous teaching, including flexible, longer deadlines
Chunck your online education in small bits (one concept per video of 5 min), and add regular breaks. In general it is better to not replace your offline education with long stretches of screen time.
Considerations and Educational Implementation
Design & Preparation
Be very clear about the design of education. Structure will help students.
Flipping your classroom is advisable. Make material available in different ways. Variation is key.
Subtitle any video or audio clip, and let students know when that is available. Transcripts and annotations of online material are helpful to any student.
Balance visual and audio material.
Use Word documents rather than PDFs. Make sure PDFs and websites are readable for text to speech tools.
Create an online community where students can ask questions afterwards (e.a. In discussion forums in BlackBoard or Brightspace)
Production of media material
Check the video-toolkit for general tips.
Talk directly to the camera for lip reading purposes.
Your webcam should be steady.
Speak steady and not too quick. If any students think you are too slow they can watch the clip at a quicker speed.
Cut your video or podcast into small chunks of 6 to 10 minutes
Powerpoint and documents
Prepare beforehand and make it available in Blackboard or Brightspace
Use a clear font (Like Helvetica, Arial, Verdana or Calibri)
Use font size 10 with 1,5 point rule distance
Create a clear consistent structure
Synchronous teaching: interaction and other concerns
Start Kaltura Live Room in Webinar mode, which mutes all mics and allows a Q&A after the presentation.
There are data privacy concerns with recording sessions, but it is very beneficial to be able to watch recordings afterwards for all students. Consult with your DPO how to do this safely.
Teaching and learning online costs a lot of energy. Be sure to check at regular intervals with your students if they are still able to absorb the information.
Make use of active learning forms beyond lectures.
Involve a teaching assistant as a moderator in your class. This can be a student who gets that role, and rotating this role each week. Allow students to (collaboratively) make notes of your lecture in the chat or in a shared document.
Inform students generously ahead of time about any assessments, what the form of the assessment is, its location/tool and deadlines. (at least 5 days ahead)
Keep deadlines flexible and longer (e.a. give students a day instead of 3 hours to complete an assessment), and try to keep it as asynchronous as possible.
Assessments like essays, open-book examinations etc. are less strenuous
Trust over surveillance, do not automatically presume that there shall be fraud by applying complicated countermeasures.
Relevant links and additional information
Studying with a disability helppage of the Fenestra Disability Centre of Leiden University
Studeren en Werken op Maat (Dutch)
Ieder(in) (Dutch)– organisatie for people with extra needs
Koninklijke Kentalis (Dutch)– Expert Centre for Accessible communication
Dovenschap (Dutch)– Expert advice for people with auditive limitations
Bartimeus fonds (Dutch)- Expert advice for people with visual limitations
De Oogvereniging (Dutch)- Expert advice for people with visual limitations
Tips & Tricks
Accessibility of video conferencing tools (Dutch) by Stichting Accessibility
Digitale toegankelijkheid: quick wins voor docenten (Dutch) by ECIO
Face Covid: how to respond effectively to the Corona Crisis. A short animation to deal with fear & anxiety in the Corona Crisis by dr Ruth Harris
Creating Accessible Documents by Accessibility Net
Guidelines for Accessible PDFs by Trinity College Dublin
Credits to the diversity office, several students with extra needs and ICLON for gathering this material.
Polls - Check available tools with your ICTO coordinator
Subtitle services -Check available tools with your ICTO coordinator