Chapter 5: Accessibility in online teaching

What will you find here?

Generally about accessibility of online teaching

While online teaching can eliminate some barriers, it can accentuate or even create others. The situation of students with specific needs is thus different in online teaching than it was in in-person teaching in the lecture room, and changes in the form of teaching should be considered from this perspective as well. The impact can be particularly severe for learners with sensory impairments, mental illness or autism. Those who rely on the physical assistance of third parties, whose work is now difficult to access, may also be in a difficult situation. Given that the circumstances in which students attend online lessons (size and quality of the display, sound conditions, the physical environment and its distractions, etc.) is unfamiliar and difficult assess, it’s now true more than ever that steps to make lessons more accessible for students with specific needs have the potential to improve the situation for a much wider range of people.

Useful links

Teiresiás Centre

Recommendations for teachers

  1. Check with the Teiresias Centre. Make your teaching accessible to as many learners as possible.

Follow the principles of universal design (Czech only) so that the widest possible range of learners can participate without making further individual adjustments. In particular, duplicate the channels, comment on visual information orally, and visualize orally delivered information.

  Communication accessibility in general

The very fact of changing the form of teaching and acting at a distance can be psychologically and socially limiting for some learners. Therefore, provide information about the form of the teaching in advance, give learners the opportunity to prepare and choose an appropriate setting, negotiate the mode of engagement, set and maintain rules, and negotiate exceptions in the usual way with the Teiresias Centre. Ensure that the teaching is well structured and that learners can navigate it.

  Accessibility of the spoken word

In an online environment, it may not be possible to apply common compensatory strategies (skimming, use of technology). Thus, more students will rely on transcription, sign language interpreting, and other techniques. Depending on the platform chosen, involving these services is no small matter and, therefore, they need to be organized in advance. During the actual teaching process there is greater delay in the transfer of information and learners may need to monitor several applications in parallel in order to participate in the teaching process. As a consequence, communication needs to be adapted accordingly.

  Accessibility of visual documents

Document legibility can be difficult even for those who have no visual impairment, let alone those who do. Again, compensation may be more difficult than normal or impossible. For the virtually blind, working with images without a correct text layer (e.g. a shared screen in a video conference) is completely impossible. Therefore, offer the documents you work with (displaying them via screen sharing, embedding them in a video, etc.) in a correct format beforehand.

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