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Creating an accessible classroom ensures that all students, regardless of their abilities, have equal opportunities to learn and participate. While accessibility accommodations are designed specifically for students with disabilities, your whole class can benefit. Read more to learn about strategies you can use to transform your classroom into an accessible learning space.

Vary Content Delivery 

Using different content types can be beneficial to all students. According to the VARK system, there are four learning styles: visual (V), auditory (A), reading and writing (R), and kinesthetic (K). By incorporating these different learning styles into your teaching, students can consume content in ways that best suit their needs. For neurodivergent students, this type of variation can play an instrumental role in their ability to process content. For example, a student with dysgraphia may benefit from using a word processor to complete an assignment, whereas a student with low computer literacy may feel more comfortable using a pen and paper for their assignments.

Use Sufficient Color Contrast

Contrast between colors can play a large role in how we perceive content, such as the colors on a graph representing data. For some users, low contrast can result in the inability to see text or graphics at all, while higher contrast will help all students see the content more easily.

Add Alt Text to Visual Content

Incorporating alt text in visual content is a great next step in making your course more accessible. “Alt,” or alternative, text describes visual or non-text content like images. This description, which is generally not visible to the average user, is read aloud by assistive technologies like screen readers, helping students who are blind or who have low vision understand what the images and other objects are in a document. 

Best practice for alt text is to keep it short and concise, yet descriptive. For example, the alt text for the image at the top of this article could say, “Person reading a braille book.”

Check for Subtitles

Subtitles are a great aid for information processing. They transcribe content for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who process written information more easily than audio. Subtitles can provide a universal benefit for all students in reinforcing complex topics, as the content is being referenced twice (audibly and visually). Checking that all video content provides subtitles is a simple step, but be aware that auto-generated subtitles are often inaccurate, so it is important to review the subtitles prior to assigning the content to students.

Minimize Long Blocks of Text

Long lines of text can become a significant barrier for students with reading or vision difficulties. Consider breaking long paragraphs into more concise sentences and adding bullet points for easier retention. This strategy is important when organizing a rubric, syllabus, or other instructional documents. Keeping the information clear, concise, and at the level of the student (or slightly lower) is a good metric to use to get started.

Provide Flexibility 

Flexibility is one of the most important accessibility strategies you can incorporate into your course. If you have a physical classroom, an adaptable seating plan can be instrumental in a student’s learning progress. Physical disabilities like using a wheelchair or crutches require adequate space in the room, and students with hearing or vision difficulties can benefit from being close to the front of the room. Some students may require extended timelines for assignments and exams, or require an assignment to be digital if they use a screen reader, for example.

By implementing these strategies, you can create a more inclusive and accessible classroom environment where all students can succeed and access a quality education.


The curb cut effect


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