Inclusive Classroom Design
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Inclusive Classroom Design


[upbeat acoustic music] (Michael Brown) Inclusive Classroom
Design is when an instructor intentionally plans that their class is going to be accessible
to all types of learners in their classroom. (Peter Doolittle) As soon as we start talking
about that issue we get into the idea of things like priviledge and oppression but for the
most part what we’re really looking at is what attributes of the students are necessary
for us to pay attention to in order for them to be successful. (Kaleb Delk) By including the majority, the
most people that you can in the design of whatever you’re doing you effectively reach
more people than you would otherwise. (Peter Doolittle) So we really need to look
at the whole student and make sure we’re supporting them in ways that are necessary
for them to develop as students and as individuals. (Michele Deramo) Well the benefits of inclusive
pedagogy for students is that they’re going to first of all enter into the learning experience
from a place that feels comfortable to them where they can feel successful. At the same time because it uses multiple
modes of delivery, for example, it also helps the student to maybe develop their capacities
in other ways of thinking and learning where perhaps they aren’t as strong. (Peter Doolittle) Some of the benefits for
students include the idea that we hear their voice. One of things we know when we take a look
at students in a broad perspective is some voices are privileged and some aren’t. So as we begin to think about teaching in
an inclusive perspective everybody’s voice gets heard, but it also valued and understood. (Michele Deramo) So what do you do to create
a class where students feel their voice matters? Sometimes it’s as simple as learning every
student’s name, but then that of course inclusive pedagogy is about much more than just knowing
everyone’s name. But it’s that creating an environment where
people feel like they belong. (Christa Miller) Typically in Higher Education
a student identifies a disability if that student wants a service, but just because
they don’t ask for a service doesn’t mean that they don’t need it. (Liz Spingola) An inclusive classroom provides
an environment where any student can succeed even if they don’t know their disability,
they do not have a disability, they have a disability and they’re just not comfortable
talking to the professor or they’re very comfortable talking to the professor. (Peter Doolittle) Inclusive design relative
to professors allows us to better reach our students. Rather than thinking about our students as
a small group or that everybody’s the same we want to think about them from a broad perspective. So really the first benefit is we get better
learning with our students. (Michele Deramo) So for example, if you have
a student who requires visual information to be displayed in a particular way because
they have a visual impairment, the whole class then actually benefits so there may be other
people who benefit from this other way of presenting the information, maybe not because
they have a visual impairment but because maybe they learn differently or maybe it reinforces
how they are taking in information in another way. (Peter Doolitle) The second is our students
will tend to engage more which makes teaching more fun to be quite honest with you instead
of students just kind of hanging out in class for 50 minutes or an hour and 25. (Michael Brown) The instructor also has the
assurance that they are treating every student with dignity and respect, and that’s part
of the Principles of Community here at VirginiaTech. (Michele Deramo) Conventional ways of teaching
is a lecture, so you have an expert who conveys information and hopefully they’re a very
compelling speaker and they know their information well, so that’s a great mode of delivery for
students who learn best by listening. It may not be as effective for a student who
needs to see a process written out, for example, or a student who learns best by doing something. (Christa Miller) So from the beginning try
to create activities that allow students to engage with the material in more than one
way, so using more than one sense listening and writing, for example. (Michele Deramo) If I were to give advice
to someone who wants to consider inclusive pedagogy for their class, I would begin by
asking them what is your experience of a learning situation where you really felt engaged and
included? And if you think about that experience, that
time when you were in that learning situation and how exciting it was and what it did for
you as a learner, and then assess what were the features of that environment you’re beginning
to identify what it means to do inclusive pedagogy. (Michael Brown) If a teacher wants to make
their course more accessible, it certainly can be overwhelming to think about and so
probably the first place that I would start would be to look at the syllabus for your
course and make sure you have a statement for students with disabilities so that they
know that they can come to you during office hours and talk to you about what accommodations
they may need in your classroom. The other thing that I would recommend would
be to make sure that all of the content that you’re providing to the class is accessible
so things like if you are going to be distributing PDF documents make sure that they are accessible
so that if a student has to use a screen reader or software on their computer to read it back
to them that they would be able to do that because the document is accessible. (Christa Miller) Always save documents as
PDF instead of Print to PDF. It’s an interesting difference and you wouldn’t
think it would matter but when you save to PDF anything that is built into the document
stays in the document. If you print to PDF it’s a lot like a photocopier
all it does is take a picture and print it out The last thing that faculty can bear in mind
is to avoid communicating in only one way, so a good example of this is sometimes faculty
will use color coding to represent some kind of organization on a chalk board or a white
board or a digital board but not all students can see all color spectrums and just because
you can’t see all color spectrums doesn’t mean that you’re going to identify that to the
professor. So simple ways that professors could deal
with that example are If I’m going to color code something I could also underline, box,
squiggle, any way to represent in more than one way what I’m trying to communicate. The same thing goes for communications using
contractions or pronouns. So for example, if I’m a student who has low
vision or blindness or I’m a student who’s learning English ‘this’ and ‘that’ don’t always
mean anything to me. (Michael Brown) The last thing that I would
say is that if you had any guest speakers in your class, it’s always a good idea to
check with them beforehand to see if they plan on passing out any handouts or if they’re
going to be showing a PowerPoint or a video to check with them to make sure that their
material is going to be accessible to all of the students in your class. (Christa Miller) Documents in particular,
we use a lot of documents in our curriculum from PowerPoint presentations to Word Documents,
PDF documents and all the other varieties that there are, and those documents if you
don’t build accessibility into them anyone who’s using assistive technology is essentially
sees a blank piece of paper, and for all of the effort that faculty put into their curriculum
it really ought to be enjoyed by their students. (Liz Spingalo) When you look at inclusive
design versus an accommodation you see some stark differences. Accommodation puts all of the onus onto the
student to be an advocate for theirselves that implies two main things about the student. One that they can actually be their own advocate,
that they feel comfortable enough to talk to their professor with that different power
dynamic and actually be able to talk to the professor about something that they need them
to do. It also implies that the student is comfortable
with their disability and that they know that they have a disability. (Peter Doolittle) I think that for a lot of
faculty shifting from focusing on content to really trying to integrate diversity can
be a little scary, it can be a little uncomfortable. And it’s important to understand that that
discomfort is a good thing, that means we’re focused on change and that their are lots
of people around to support that. And so if they come and they talk to us, they
talk to TLOS, They talk to Office of Diversity and Inclusion, they find other faculty that
they’re working with as a support group, which sounds kind of odd but really when we’re venturing
into new areas it’s important to develop a support group. So recognize at the beginning, it could be
a little odd or discomforting and that that’s okay. [Soft acoustic music]

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