A Self-enrolled Course on Accessibility: MSU’s Big Easy
Concurrent Session 4
Accessibility benefits everyone. Join a diverse group of faculty and specialists from Michigan State University to discuss the barriers and challenges surrounding accessibility and Universal Design for Learning. Explore how a university resource was crafted to empower educators to meet federal standards and create learning opportunities for all.
Accessibility benefits everyone, but engaging educators in conversations about creating accessible content can be challenging. Increasingly educators are called upon by administrators and students to meet unfamiliar standards. One possible way to address this dilemma is through a grassroots movement. Our movement took the form of a diverse group of faculty, academic specialists, librarians and instructional designers from Michigan State University participating in a Faculty Learning Community focused on Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This focus moved our group’s discussion from accessible content, typically rooted in litigation fears, to creating equitable curriculum using a UDL approach.
Over the course of a year, the Faculty Learning Community met, read about, and discussed concepts centered around Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and accessible course design. In conjunction with MSU IT Services, we then created a professional development resource, a self-enrolled course, that curates materials on accessibility and UDL. To give the course structure, we considered four different perspectives or motivations that might cause faculty to learn more about UDL and accessibility: meeting VISA (Verified Individualized Student Accommodation) requests (immediate accommodation), creating an accessible course from scratch (new course development), revising an existing course (remediation), and understanding the theoretical bases for UDL and accessibility. We recognize that educators may be motivated to learn about accessibility and UDL for a range of reasons; they may need to make an immediate accommodation for a student, or may want to design with accessibility in mind from the beginning. By offering multiple entry points to the content, the course meets a wide range of faculty needs.
With this resource completed, the next steps involve evaluating the course’s efficacy and determining the best way to incorporate it into professional development. Presenters from Michigan State hope to draw on the broader perspectives of the OLC community to brainstorm our future directions. We hope that by making our process transparent, others might take advantage of the resource or leap frog our position to better solutions.
This conversation will be structured with three elements: a PechaKucha-style presentation, small group breakout discussions between participants, and conversations with the entire group. The PechaKucha presentations will examine the current accessibility conversation in higher education, and highlight the resource we created to help faculty implement accessibility and UDL strategies in their teaching. The discussion will be centered around questions like:
- Are there other approaches (besides remediation, accommodation, or new course development) that you have come into contact regarding accessibility issues?
- What are the unique accessibility challenges at your institution?
- Where are accessibility conversations occurring at your institution? Where is there a lack of interest? Are there other methods of dissemination that might improve adoption by faculty?
- What are the major barriers that keep people from participating in accessibility initiatives? What are methods for reducing those barriers?
- What are major incentives that drive people to participate with accessibility initiatives? What are methods for increasing those incentives?
- What is the overlap in accessibility and UDL?