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[Prioritizing Accessibility] Intentional Planning Leads to Inclusive Professional Learning

[Prioritizing Accessibility] Intentional Planning Leads to Inclusive Professional Learning

Have you ever missed the punchline of a joke and were embarrassed to ask someone to tell it again? Have you ever missed the beginning of a movie and didn’t want to distract a friend to ask, “What did I miss?” Essentially, when we don’t plan for inclusive access, many people experience that feeling of missing something crucial. The same that is true for the everyday conversations you have with friends or family also applies to professional learning settings.

October was National Disability Employment Awareness month, and as we roll into November, we’re continuing to acknowledge the importance of accessibility. Over 35 percent of the current workforce from the age of 16 to 64 have a disability according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states: “A person with a disability has at least one of the following conditions:

  • is deaf or has serious difficulty hearing;
  • is blind or has serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses;
  • has serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition;
  • has serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs;
  • has difficulty dressing or bathing; or
  • has difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor's office or shopping because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition.”

As part of our work to be inclusive to all educators, the professional services teams at Edmentum are always evolving our practices and presentations to be more inclusive. Small changes in daily practice benefit all educators and their students. Check out the steps we are taking moving forward.

1. Content is designed for those who have vision impairments.

Multiple types of vision impairments affect the daily functioning of many people. The National Institutes of Health NIH reported that 3.2 million Americans had visual impairment in 2015. In 2016, NIH estimated that the number is expected to double to more than 8 million by 2050. The World Health Organization lists multiple causes of visual impairment, including cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

What are we doing to be inclusive?

  • Using high-contrast colors on slide images
  • Adding alternative text to describe images for those who use screen readers during webinars
  • Describing images on slides during live presentations
  • Covering displayed text—not necessarily reading a slide but covering the content
  • Using larger and easy-to-read fonts
  • Limiting text on slides
  • Offering handouts and slides in accessible formats for face-to-face and webinar presentations

2. Presentations are adjusted for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders states that approximately 15 percent of American adults aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing.

Fortunately, there are a few digital tools and practices that we adjust to make content accessible for this population.

  • Enabling closed captioning during our presentations
  • Providing transcripts of audio if requested prior to a webinar (delivered after the session)
  • Recording webinars as requested
  • Using a microphone when provided for face-to-face presentations
  • Speaking clearly and slowly

These small adjustments in our daily practice make a huge impact to those with whom we work, as well as benefit many others in the process. What are you doing to be more inclusive? Let us know by tagging us on Twitter: @edmentum #inclusivePD.'s picture
Thera Pearce

Thera Pearce has 25 years of experience in education as a special education teacher, instructional coach, educational consultant, director of professional learning, and instructional designer. She is currently an Instructional Design Specialist at Edmentum.