As the University of Tulsa encounters an increasing number of students with varying needs, it is important to ensure your course content and class environment utilize inclusive pedagogy and instructional delivery methods that will be accessible to diverse learners. This workshop will help you conceptualize accessibility for your courses and give you strategies to support learners in all receiving the same quality education you provide.
Inclusive Design (also known as Universal Design) refers to creative design elements of products and environments (such as classrooms, buildings, handouts, websites) to make them accessible to diverse people. The aim is to make the whole environment inclusive by eliminating barriers to provide all people with equal opportunities to learn (regardless of individual characteristics such as age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, educational background, veteran status, disability, ongoing illness/injury, trauma survivors, etc.). Inclusive Design in the classroom utilizes multiple means of instruction, expression, engagement, and representation. For example, we will be videoing this workshop and adding captions in order to make it accessible to diverse needs.
Accessibility refers to the ability to fully use and engage with a resource, product, and/or activity. In education, we are federally mandated to offer full access to educational opportunities and activities. Making education accessible means that we eliminate barriers that diverse people may face in accessing educational opportunities.
Inclusion is at the heart of the University of Tulsa’s core values and mission. The University furthers its mission of educational excellence by creating an environment of equity and inclusion that values diverse life experiences, ideas, and perspectives. It is the intent of the University of Tulsa to offer programs, curriculum, and facilities that offer opportunities that would include anyone seeking to partner with the University in its mission of highlighting the core values of excellence in scholarship, dedication to free inquiry, integrity of character, and commitment to humanity.
For your class, think about the assignments, tasks, communication, syllabus, and grading/assessment you will be using. As you consider this, start by thinking about how you can best utilize the different components of your class to reach the most diverse range of people. One way, that most people are familiar with, is to think about learning preferences. Will coursework and the class environment facilitate learning for people who prefer visual, auditory, and kinesthetic methods, for example? Another way is to think about people with disabilities (e.g., mobility, psychological, learning, illness/injury). Will coursework and the class environment facilitate learning for people who use a wheelchair, may miss class when their invisible psychological disability flares up, or has a slower processing speed?
We will begin by thinking about access. Think of a time when you experienced a barrier to access. Describe what happened, the feelings you had, and whether you were able to obtain access in some way.
Below is a checklist of items to use to help enhance the accessibility of course content using Inclusive Design. There are two areas to consider: the content delivery/assessment methods and the class environment. Think about if/where you can apply any of these items to help you ensure the course will be inclusive for diverse learners. This is a lot of information, so just start small and expand the inclusive design strategies you use as you have time.