Inclusive education is always important, but teaching remotely can create extra challenges. Accessibility is one of the most important things to consider when you are teaching remotely. You don't want students to miss out on parts of your program because their access is obstructed. This means you have to consider different scenarios, in which no audio, visuals or stable internet connection is available. You also have to consider the personal circumstances of the students, whether they have health issues, psychological difficulties, a family to take into account or a child on the way. Leiden University offers extra support to students in need, but you can assist them by integrating accessibility in your teaching.
Communicating with your students is important. It can give you insight into their situation and in some cases with minor adjustments on your side, can help them be more successful in their studies.
You can communicate with or contact your students in the following situations:
- If you are aware that certain students have extra needs. These needs can also include technical needs, like a good computer, a stable internet connection etc. You can coordinate fit for purpose solutions with study advisors and the Fenestra Disability Centre.
- About the expectations, formats, and requirements of your program. You can communicatie this through email or BrightSpace.
- Create a Frequently Asked Questions sheet (FAQ sheet) in BrightSpace.
It is also important that students know how to reach you. Think about creating online office hours so students can pose questions and making sure they have your email address.
Design & preparation
- Flipping your classroom is advisable. Make material available in different ways. Variation is key.
- Make use of closed captioning on the different video platforms. In this way, all students can follow the online lecture. It can help foreign language students or students with a learning disability and it can improve the retention and focus of the students. It's possible to use closed captioning on Microsoft Teams, Kaltura Live Room (see 'Participants'), and Zoom (see 'Live Transcript / Closed Caption').
- 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. For more information about transcribing your recordings, take a look at the MediaSpace Video Portal or the Microsoft Support page about saving the transcriptions as a Word document (only available for English transcriptions).
- 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.g. in discussion forums Brightspace).
Production of media material
- Check the Video toolkit on the Leiden University website 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 Brightspace.
- Use a clear font (Like Helvetica, Arial, Verdana or Calibri).
- Use minimum font size 10 with 1,5 point rule distance.
- Create a clear consistent structure.
- 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 and open-book examinations are less strenuous.
- Trust over surveillance, do not automatically presume that there shall be fraud by applying complicated countermeasures.
- 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 these Privacy Guidelines on how to handle recordings or discuss with your Privacy Officer 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.
- Studying with a disability helppage of the Fenestra Disability Centre of Leiden University
- ISSC & Remote Teaching helpdesk
- Educatie Centrum Inclusief Onderwijs (Dutch)
- 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
- Make your powerpoints accessible to people with disabilities by Microsoft
- Creating Accessible Documents by Accessibility Net
Credits to the Diversity & Inclusion Expertise Office, several students with extra needs, and ICLON for gathering this material.