Magna Online Seminars

A Universal Design: Five Steps to Make Your Course Accessible

Accessibility: Improve Learning for All

Accessibility is a big topic in higher education, but it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Small changes to existing courses can eliminate barriers and provide all students with more equitable opportunities to learn and to demonstrate their learning.

The key is remembering that accessibility is not just about disability. Accessibility is about increasing learning for any and all students. It is about inclusion and equality. Ultimately, it is about student success.

All courses can be accessible, and most instructors can improve access to their curricula simply by examining their assumptions and making slight modifications to methods and practices. Lectures, exams, group work—you can make just about any course component more accessible once you know how to evaluate it.

This will improve outcomes for everyone. And that is the rationale behind universal design, the methodology by which instructors systematically increase the accessibility of their teaching.

Adopting universal design principles is easier than you might think. It doesn’t take large investments of time or tedious research. A few simple guidelines can help you evaluate your courses and pedagogy to ensure that all your students have the opportunity to perform optimally.

You can learn these universal design guidelines and how to apply them to your courses by watching this seminar.

Topics Covered

Improving accessibility doesn’t have to be a theoretical endeavor. 

Simple changes like increasing font sizes or enlarging writing spaces on exam pages can make a difference. Reading aloud whatever you write on the board or describing the images on PowerPoint slides can help some students better process information. Those strategies hardly take any additional effort and require no additional class preparation. 

Learn more tactics in Universal Design: Five Steps to Make Your Course Accessible

Of course, that is not all you’ll learn. After participating in this Magna Online Seminar you will be able to:

  • Systematically evaluate courses to identify potential barriers to student learning or demonstration of learning
  • Identify two or three assumptions that could be barriers to learning
  • Determine what kind of learners might be challenged by those assumptions
  • Recognize three or four simple changes to make teaching more accessible
  • Understand how to implement those changes for immediate improvement

Participants will learn how to improve the accessibility of their courses and, correspondingly, the success of their students. All attendees will learn that: 

  • Some assumptions about students and their learning can undermine the learning of all students, and especially students with disabilities
  • Small changes can eliminate large barriers to learning

Seminar participants will not only learn about the value of universal design or the need to improve accessibility; they will finish with actual tools and tactics they can employ immediately. Specifically, seminar participants will take away:

  • Current universal design guidelines
  • A variety of protocols and strategies for incorporating guiding principles into courses

Learn From an Expert

Elizabeth Harrison, Ph.D.
Dr. Elizabeth Harrison is the director of the Office of Learning Resources (OLR) at the University of Dayton as well as the associate director of the Ryan C. Harris Learning & Teaching Center. She is active at the state and national levels in the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and at the national level in the faculty development professional association (POD-Network). Harrison has led workshops on universal design at higher education institutions in the U.S. and Canada, and has presented on the topic at national conferences.
Who Should Watch this CD 

Accessibility is not just for students with disabilities. Accessibility is a matter of equitable opportunity. It is about eliminating barriers to success and improving learning opportunities for all students. Ultimately, it is about identifying and removing barriers to success in students’ academic experience. Thus, accessibility is an issue for everyone in higher education, and it clearly applies to all instructors at all types of postsecondary institutions. 

While accessibility is a big issue in higher education, it does not have to be a daunting task. Anyone can learn to identify and examine the assumptions that underlie their course design and use that insight to minimize or eliminate barriers to learning. The online seminar Universal Design: Five Steps to Make Your Course Accessible simplifies the concept and the process. 

The following professionals would particularly benefit from this seminar:

    • Faculty of any rank
    • Instructional designers
    • Faculty developers
    • Disability service providers
    • Learning center professionals
    • Administrators charged with or concerned about monitoring or improving accessibility

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System Requirements:
To watch a Magna Online Seminar, you simply need a computer with speakers, web browser, Windows Media Player, and the Microsoft Silverlight plug-in.

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