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Accessibility / Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
Accessibility is generally defined as the qualities that make an experience open to all. The experience would therefore be inclusive to all. Most people think of accessibility as only benefiting people with disabilities. This is not true. Creating accessible learning environments benefits all of your students, regardless of their circumstances.
Students who work full-time and may be reading, listening to, or watching your lectures during their commute, will benefit from having access to accessible documents or videos. So will students for whom English is a second language, as well as students who are deaf or have significant hearing loss who may rely captions to follow along with a video lecture. Students who are blind or have some level of visual impairment benefit from accessible documents, clear audio descriptions, and/or high contrast in materials. Most common, students who primarily access your course on a mobile device, benefit from similar accessibility features as well as from consistent and concise navigation.
For these reasons, all content used in an online Blackboard course needs to be accessible. This especially applies to any content brought in Blackboard from an outside source, such as Word and PDF documents, video and audio clips, and other multimedia.
Follow the best practices below to ensure content accessibility and usability:
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a helpful framework to follow for designing an inclusive course. Generally, by allowing your students options when completing the required activities of your course you are applying the three guiding principles of UDL: 1) multiple means of representation, 2) multiple means of action and expression, and 3) multiple means of engagement. Learn more about implementing UDL in your course from The Center for Universal Design in Education at the University of Washington.
Ally is a product within your Blackboard course that indicates the level of accessibility of your materials through a scale system of red, orange and green gauges and walk you step-by-step through making that document more accessible. In addition, Ally produces alternative formats of your document (i.e. epub, HTML, PDF, electronic braille, audio, and more). It is very important that you use Ally to make your documents accessible. If your original document isn’t accessible, the alternative formats your students download will not be accessible either. Visit the Accessibility pages on the Learning Design Services website to learn more about Ally and creating accessible content.
Defined by when the instructor teaches a class in real-time on a set class schedule using video conferencing technology (e.g., Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate). Reliable Internet access is needed both by students and instructors. Since there are many valid reasons why students may not be able to participate in synchronous instruction, it is important for instructors to plan asynchronous alternatives for students who miss class.