Category Archives: Accessibility & Disability

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Accessibility in the Classroom – Insights and Questions from TLH Faculty Fellows

On September 28, our Fall Cohort of TLH Faculty Fellows convened for the first meeting of the semester to plan public events and contributions to knowledge. I also led a discussion about accessibility in the classroom by talking about why it’s important, what the institutional process is like (i.e. students request services through their campus disability services office, which acts as a liaison between student and teacher) and how that may or may not be effective. According to the National Center for Education statistics, nearly half of students with disabilities end up dropping out before they finish (link opens in a new window). According to one study, stronger self-advocates were more likely to complete their degrees (link opens in a new window), but that puts the onus on students to advocate for their needs semester after semester, which can become a barrier to success.

We started the discussion by first polling our fellows on their knowledge of accessibility accommodations, current experiences teaching disabled students in their courses, and types of accommodation requests.

The fellows rated themselves as generally having average experience with accessibility issues and no-one considered themselves to have very limited knowledge or to be very knowledgeable.

Question 1 results (image link opens to interactive chart)

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TLH Office Hours Recap: Accessible Course Design and Hybrid Teaching

On August 31, 2021, TLH held the first office hour session with 9 of our faculty fellows. We kicked off the session with a short, high-level presentation about accessible course design which was followed by a discussion about challenges that professors have encountered while teaching online during the past year, with making their course materials accessible on short notice, providing other accommodations to students, and with technology platforms that are not always accessible or user friendly. During the discussion, faculty fellows shared some of the tools and techniques that have worked well for them and bringing up questions that also informed the topic. Overall, it was a productive hour and we really enjoyed the knowledge-sharing! We added 3 more slides to our presentation with some of the resources. 

Stay tuned for our next TLH Office Hourse, on September 14 at 4 pm. TLH Executive Director, Christina Katopodis will lead a discussion on ungrading and peer review.

Accessible Course Design and Hybrid Teaching after COVID

Image: CUNY mascots pose with members of the CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities (CCSD) at the 2018 NYC Disability Pride Parade.

The pandemic forced a rapid shift to online teaching, but what will we return to and what will we adapt in the future? Some students have benefited tremendously from a move to online learning, especially those who have difficulty with public transit due to a disability, difficulty affording transportation, or a long commute to class. Other students have struggled with having only online or asynchronous courses and learn best with in-person instruction. Educators have been forced to innovate during the past 18 months under the cloud of the pandemic and its related crises, and with the larger systemic problems that higher education was facing before COVID.  Continue reading

Considering Accessibility & Equity in Assessment Design

As educators with the City University of New York, we know that our learners come to our classrooms as unique individuals. They bring with them diverse experiences and backgrounds. 

Assessment and Learner Variability 

In learning environments, individual variability is the norm, not the exception.” UDL and Assessment | An Introduction to UDL and Assessment

In our role as educators, we use assessments to measure student understanding and progress. The purpose of an assessment is to measure what our students can do, or know.  If an assessment doesn’t accommodate the wide variability of our learners then they fail to do what they must by design: evaluate our students and provide us with vital information about their learning and our practice. 

 It is an essential part of our courses. It is therefore essential that assessments accommodate learner differences if they are to be effective. We must design our assessments with the diversity of our learner needs at the forefront. Continue reading

Flipping the Script on Grading: Alternative, Anti-Racist Grading Practices, Event Recap

This blog post is by Contributing Author Ian Singleton. Ian Singleton is an Adjunct Writing Instructor and a recipient of a Transformative Learning in the Humanities award for organizing an event in our Spring 2021 series on active and participatory learning.

Contract grading is an alternative assessment practice that can aid anti-racist pedagogy. Another practice is “A for All,” which effectively refutes any kind of assessment system whatsoever. What do students, specifically CUNY students want? I sought to organize a space and time for students to feel free to answer the question, “How do you want to be graded?” The question could be, “How do you want to be assessed?” or “How do you want to be judged?”  Continue reading