Posts Tagged ‘accessibility’

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Today We’re Going to Watch a Movie In Class

posted: 4.2.12 by archived

When I was in high school and elementary school, one of the best sentences you could hear coming out of a teacher’s mouth was “Today we’re going to watch a movie in class.” Nowadays, I very rarely use film in my own classes, but I do try to assign writing projects in which students might choose to use film as part of a multimodal composition or remix. I also encourage students to create or repurpose images, particularly when I teach classes on the rhetoric of advertising, or on web design.

But as someone who believes in making my classes accessible to all students, I’m concerned about the fact that visual mediums can exclude people with impaired vision or blindness. You might say, well, if you have a class that does not include students with vision impairments, then you don’t have to worry. But I have never really thought this way. In my own classes, I never assume that everyone can see (or hear, or otherwise process) clearly and easily.Without my thick glasses (and even with them, a lot of the time), I would be excluded from a lot of highly visual experiences, and so I assume the same for my students. Plus, visual information is processed differently by different people—we all see differently, at different speeds and levels of depth, and vision interacts with our other senses in a manner unique to each of us. Moreover, I want to provide examples in my class that model accessibility as a rhetorical process and a cultural requirement, that show how making things more accessible can also, much of the time, make them much more interesting and engaging, too. I try to make access a critical and political necessity. That doesn’t mean I always get it right, it just means I try. [read more]

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Categories: Jay Dolmage, Uncategorized
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Disability Accommodations

posted: 4.18.11 by archived

Read Jay’s earlier post, Disability and the Teaching of Writing, here.

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act provides the right for students with disabilities to receive “reasonable accommodations” in the classroom. In Canada, we have a very similar system. These accommodations are commonly seen through the prism of the standard teaching model in higher education: lectures, note-taking, tests, exams. So, if students are in a standard classroom, they can get some accommodations that make the learning environment more accessible. But what good is extra time on an exam in a portfolio-based writing class? What good is a note-taker when there are no lectures?

I think our writing classrooms are already very accessible spaces in comparison to many other classes—but this isn’t enough. As writing teachers, when we receive official letters from the Office of Persons with Disabilities (or whatever this office is called at your school) we need to do more than simply sign off on a series of accommodations that don’t apply to the style of teaching and learning in our classrooms.

When I was coordinating a large first-year writing program at West Virginia University, I worked with the Office of Disability Services and the Office for Social Justice to rewrite the standard accommodation letter for our writing students. We made this an official “addendum” to the letters that were usually generated. Some of the recommendations we made could be considered by other English and writing teachers for their own programs, classes, and students.

Below are the teaching suggestions that expand the scope of legal accommodations and that can make the classroom even more accessible. The suggestions are addressed to the student: [read more]

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Categories: Campus Issues, Classroom Challenges and Solutions, Jay Dolmage
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