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The College of DuPage – Mapping the journey that meets the diverse needs of many

Everyone has their own difficulties. For me personally, I think a few of the biggest challenges is consistency. That can be consistency between instructors, what kind of materials they provide. Consistency between online provided materials or formats that they’re in. So the Center of Access and Accommodations. They help me get my books on the computer and on the iPad to make them bigger so I can see it. Having things laid out the same way on a consistent basis reduces confusion for everybody, not just visually impaired or blind students, but pretty much for everybody. Everybody learns differently. In my view, one thing might be good for one student, but another student might be struggling just because he or she can’t see the material. As a teacher, you’d want both students to be successful in the end. The more we can do to make the course content really workable for them so that they make up whatever gains they need, they make them up quickly. Also so they feel that the coursework is really serving them and really addressing them is very important to us. I think there are a lot of people who are at least at the entry level of having some awareness of students having more diverse needs but maybe just not knowing what to do. But we should treat that as a journey and not as this is one thing that we have to do right now when it should be done completely 100 percent. I think people talking to each other, sharing what we do, what works, what doesn’t is what will stimulate more people to try different things. Everything that I’ve heard about things being upload that the faculty did correctly on there or made it so it is fully accessible has only been good. Good outcomes, there’s been a lot of changes going on. Then Ally being brought in I think is another positive change for this, so just making faculty aware that there is a need for universal design not only for students who have disabilities but for every type of learner. So improving their abilities to upload the documents or whatever it may be correctly on Ally or using Ally can be really helpful to everyone all around. But I think the awareness of it and learning how to use it is the best option for all students here. When I teach, I’m a no-surprises instructor. I tell them exactly what I want them to know and I want to make sure that they can access that information in multiple ways because of different learning styles. There are plenty of auditory learners out there that have no disabilities that just learn better by listening. I’m also a huge fan of the fact that, through Ally, you can do it multiple ways. Because I have a lot of students who need the print but they also need to listen at the same time so they follow along. With Ally, you have that option. That helps so many students with or without disabilities. So it’s really helped those higher content classes for our students that they don’t have background knowledge in. My students have background knowledge in science and math and reading, but now, they’re taking psychology or philosophy. The content is so new and the vocabulary is so new. So they think because they can read it, that they understand what it means. So they’re listening and reading. Huge, just “Yes, I know what that means.” I have a student with a visual impairment, I have students that are physically impaired who this is excellent for them as well. Then we have students with emotional disorders which Ally also is very helpful for them because any level of frustration as far as being able to access something, they just quit. They’re done. This is too hard. When they use Ally and see that it’s easier, it’s more accessible, they don’t feel so defeated right away. If they’re listening to it and the font is readable, just those two things alone. All of a sudden, they’re in and they’re interested in the content because a lot of them are taking classes that they enjoy and that they want to take. They get to college, professor personality styles immediately begin. They want to give the students as much information as they can and depending on where they’re pulling it from is the quality. So back in the day, you’d have to make 50 copies for two classes. Now, with Ally, you should be able to just put it in once. But the better it looks or the clearer it looks or the more important it looks, then they’re going to go ahead and take a look at it for sure. So Ally gives any kind of material that’s not looking like that a little bit more importance if they would just use it. You can see professors now at eight weeks, they really are uploading things thinking of Ally in mind. Like if I put this up there, then I won’t have to make copies for the class. I can find this terrible source I have, but if I put it in here, the students will be able to read it easily. If we can inform as many people as possible and tell them this is the kind of problems we’re having, that way, this subset of people can be just as successful as everyone else. With the Department of Access and Accommodations, they’ve been pretty slammed this semester, but they’re on top of it. They do whatever they can to provide the help that you need to be successful. It’s been great. Everybody’s been really helpful and supportive, and I just like it here. She’s manic, she’s obsessed. I dread the red gauge.

About James Carlton

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