Accessibility

Transcript for January 2018

>> Hello, and welcome to my presentation on accessibility and universal design. My name is Rochelle Mohika [phonetic]. Accessibility versus usability, Webster defines accessibility as capable of being reached, and it defines usability as capable of being used. So persons with disabilities must be able to reach products and services, yet everyone, disabled and non-disabled, must be able to use them. So guaranteed access is a ruling by the Office of Civil Rights, OCR, which states the issue is not whether a student with a disability is merely provided access, but the issue is rather the extent to which the communication is actually as effective as that provided to others. So what is universal design? Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible without the need for adaptation or specialized design. That is from architect Ron Mace. So the original concept of universal design was applied to physical locations, architecture, buildings, structures.

We've sort of modified it to be able to fit in with the classroom setting or your work setting or interaction with other people, students, consumers. So many of the same concepts apply to more than just the field of architecture. So some lessons from architecture. Buildings like instruction are often designed for the average person, buildings that need to be retrofitted to accommodate other individuals. So examples of retrofitting would be wooden ramps which are often expensive or ugly or call attention to the user and solve only one problem all the time. So consider that in your own environment, buildings that you have seen that may have had a ramp added after the fact or a handrail or an automatic door. Many times they are not part of the original design process. So universal design considers the needs of the broadest possible range of users from the very beginning.

So buildings are designed universally from the beginning, not as an add on. It increases access for many unintended users, and we'll talk about that. Example of ramps, curbs cuts, electric doors, captions on the TV, easy grip tools. I'm sure you can think of quite a few items that you use personally. So here's a picture that I really like. It's from the Congaree National Park in South Carolina. And it is one of the largest deciduous forests. Biodiversity noted are astonishing, and the greenery is absolutely breathtaking in this expansive old growth bottom land hardwood forest. Those who require the use of a wheelchair or scooter may enjoy their 2.4 mile wheelchair accessible boardwalk loop. All public facilities at the Congaree National Park are ADA compliant including the border johns. Plan to visit the park on a relatively dry day as water levels may rise to cover the boardwalk loop during heavy times of consistent rainfall. So this was a design that they considered the needs of a variety of visitors to this park so that everyone could enjoy the beautiful landscape and the greenery and the forest whether they were in a wheelchair or not. So design is not about making something look pretty. It's about making the world work better.

And that's from Don Norman, the Director of the Design Lab at UCSD. So think about your environment. Is it welcoming to all students or faculty or consumers? So consider designing with all users in mind. Now, I picked this picture because I like that it has the ramp built through the center of the staircase. And I do realize that it doesn't really meet accessibility standards. But I like the interesting design. And I like that they considered the needs of somebody who maybe wouldn't be able to walk down the stairs. So we will make real progress only when we realize that our problem in education is not one of performance but of design, so Ron Wolk, Founder of Education Weekly. So is the campus environment welcoming to all students? So just as physical barriers exist in our physical environment, curricular barriers exist in our structural environment. So I like this picture as one size really fits all. So the photo of the woman out shopping and the little sign says one size fits all except for you, of course. So as we know one size really doesn't fit all when we're discussing design, when we're discussing location, education, teaching styles.

There's a lot of variety. So universal design for learning. It's an approach to designing course and structure of materials and content to make learning accessible to all students. So these are the nine principles of universal design which have been modified to relate more to an educational setting. One [inaudible] use; two, flexibility in use; three, simple and intuitive information; four, perceptible information; five, tolerance for error; six, low physical effort; seven, size and shape for approach and use; eight a community of learners; and nine, instruction climb. So some examples of how universal design that benefits all users. So I'm sure most of you have used a curb cut before. Obviously they are not just used by people with mobility issues. And the same with the automatic doors. I know many times if I'm carrying something or when my kids were little pushing the stroller the automatic door was a great assistance to be able to get through the opening without having to actually having to pull the handles to open the door. I'm sure you all have many examples of the same types of benefits.

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Equitable use, so curriculum design is useful and accessible to students with diverse abilities. So think about your own learning style. What ways do you prefer to learn? Are you someone who does well just sitting and listening? Are you someone who needs to be taking notes? Are you someone who needs to sit in the front of the class so that you can make eye contact and interact with the instructor, see the white board? Are you someone who records your lectures? So there are a lot of diverse abilities and ways to learn information. So considering the equitable use of all the design to meet the needs of all of our students. Flexibility in use, curriculum design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. Simple and intuitive, curriculum design is straightforward and predictable eliminating unnecessary complexity. So considering if you are working with a student simplifying some of the instructions. Instead of maybe 20 steps to get to the end result maybe breaking it down into just smaller, predictable chunks of information and eliminating a lot of the unnecessary steps that they may have to take to be able to solve the problem or to meet the goal. So where do I begin? So in my class when I teach offline I use things such as start here. I have found most of the students are very willing to have me put in some very simple explanations, start here, so they're not having to search all over the website to try to find what's the beginning of the assignment. What's the first thing that I need to do?

So consider using even simple text like start here or number one or do this first. And I like this little picture here with the three people and the elephant. And there's the saying how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So this image is sort of describing here's the work, now go to do it. And the person saying, ah, what, um. So I like to think about the elephant analogy. And if you're going to take on a big project breaking it down into small little pieces that you are able then to accomplish as you go. Instead of trying to figure out how you're going to create or eat an entire elephant you're going to be able to break it down into small steps. And I like that with my students as well giving them the big project but then also small little benchmarks that they're able to complete to be able to get to the final product. Perceptible information, curriculum design communicates necessary information effectively to the student regardless of the student's sensory abilities. So as we said using audio, using video, using text, using hands on, using collaboration, communication, a variety of sensory information to be able to meet the needs of your client or consumer or student who may have a different learning style than you or one of the other classmates.

A tolerance for error, curriculum design anticipates variation and individual student's learning pace and prerequisite skills. So I like to consider options such as practice quizzes or giving the students the presentation and handouts prior to the start of class so that they actually have the time to review. And when they show up to class then they're prepared and ready to begin the presentation and begin the discussion. I think it's important to consider that some students learn at different paces. So to be able to have options for students to practice and try things without having it be a final exam maybe that's worth 50 percent of their grade. So maybe you have practices quizzes, you have practice assignments. If you're teaching students that you have them turn in assignments that are for no grade or a few points, and then it's returned to them and giving them the option to practice.

Same kind of things that you could do in your own work environment where you give the person the opportunity to be successful. So what happens if a student makes a mistake in your class? Are there consequences? Are they you fail the class? Are there opportunities for them to actually learn something? So I like this quote, I've learned so much from my mistakes that I am thinking of making a few more. So hopefully you consider those types of options when you're working with consumers or students that there isn't any mistake that's going to be sort of a make it or break it point. That there's options for the students to learn and to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. Low physical effort, curriculum design minimizes non-essential physical effort in order to allow maximum attention to learning. So thinking about what kinds of things that the student or the person would have to do to be able to meet the end result. So getting rid of a lot of clicks on a web page.

They shouldn't have to go through ten clicks to get to the actual assignment or the reading. So simplifying things, making it so that it's easy to follow instructions. And it doesn't require a lot of physical effort for them to be able to complete the activity or the assignment or the project. Size and space for use, curriculum design takes into consideration appropriate size and space for approach, reach, manipulation and use regardless of the student's body size, posture, mobility and communication needs. So an example that I like to talk about is the lab that I am in charge of. When it was first built I came in, and it was full, lots of tables, lots of the branded computers, a lot of chairs. My first day of the class a student came in who was a larger student. He went to sit down in one of the chairs, and we realized that the arms on the chairs were fixed, and the student couldn't sit in the chair. And there were no other types of chairs in the lab. And this created a real challenge for the student because they couldn't sit in the computer chairs. So luckily in my office I gave him my chair to use and then called and made some complaints to the purchaser for the lab equipment and said they really needed to consider the needs of a variety of students that might be using the lab.

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We needed to have chairs that either the arms could be removed, or we had a combination of armless chairs and armed chairs and chairs of varying heights and sizes. So I think it was an idea of things being usable but not accessible. Now, also consider having students helping students. So I really like this picture. It's a [inaudible] course. That's my daughter actually on the left many years ago. And I use this approach in a lot of my interactions. And having the students within my class help each other out. Many times students are really good at certain things and maybe not as good at something else. And having them do group work where they can really highlight their own personal skills and expertise with someone else in the classroom is a really terrific way for not only building a community in your class or in your environment, but really the students getting to share information and get to shine on something that they are good at, and maybe get assistance with something that they're not as good at or don't feel less comfortable with, and really sort of highlighting everybody's strengths. So community of learners, curriculum design promotes interaction and communication among students and between students and faculty.

So much like what I was just talking about lots of opportunities for students to learn from each other, to share their information, to be able to have their voice heard in an environment where everybody's opinion matters, and everyone has equal say in the classroom and everyone gets the opportunity to participate. So which one of these spaces is designed for interaction, and which would more accurately depict your classroom? So option A is a standard classroom, rows of tables with rows of chairs and a screen and white board at the front. Or option B where you have round tables and chairs, and there are lots of ways for people to interact, see each other, talk to each other and communicate face-to-face. Hopefully B. So instructional climate, curriculum design is welcoming and inclusive. High expectations are espoused for all students. So in my syllabus I tell the students that I expect every student to do well.

That if they do the work, if they are completing the homework, they're showing up, they're participating they'll do well in the class. So I have a goal that everyone will do well. So I think making sure that that's the expectation that you have that you want for everyone to succeed. Instead of saying I want to make this class as difficult as possible try to make it as user friendly as possible. And then the goal should be that the consumer is getting the help that they need or the student is learning something. And it should be the same expectations for all of your students or consumers. So if there are multiple approaches for access people aren't going to be excluded. And you should focus on what matters. And everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler.

That's Albert Einstein. I like that one, too. So the Americans With Disabilities Act, so not calling it ADA anymore, not adaptive or accommodative, but it's just how we do business. And the CAST, Center for Applied Special Technology, the universal and universal design does not imply that one size fits all. Instead it stresses the need for flexible, customizable content, assignments and activities. So our final slide. I'm a gardener, and in this picture the quote says gardeners use trellises to support and protect their growing plants. What trellises can you use to support your students or consumers? I hope you've enjoyed our presentation. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

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