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Inclusive Education: Tools and Techniques for Remote and Online Instruction

Inclusive teaching improves learning for all students, not just those with disabilities. The following resources compiled by Blackboard Ally can help you provide students with equitable access to your course content. In addition, the resources cover how to foster a sense of community while teaching more effectively online.

The File Transformer

With this tool, you can upload a course file and convert it to another format, which is particularly useful if you have a scanned PDF in which the text cannot be selected. A screen reader cannot read scanned PDFs because they are essentially an image, but the file transformer can convert the file so that the text is selectable and can be read by screen readers.

File transformation choices include HTML (mobile-friendly for easier mobile and browser reading), ePUB (for reading on an e-Reader/iPad), OCRed PDF (makes PDFs searchable and more readable), tagged PDF (open DOC or PPT files without Office, using less bandwidth, and to improve assistive technology compatibility), MP3 (audio format for listening to content), BRF (electronic braille for tactile reading on electronic braille displays), and Beeline reader (used for faster and more focused screen reading). Transform your file to one–or more–of the options above to make your course content more accessible to all students.

Accessibility Best Practices

For step-by-step instructions on making your documents accessible, follow the best practices detailed in this resource. Discover how to author accessible text documents, slide-based presentations, HTML and WYSIWYG content, video content, and PDF files. With links to more detailed information throughout the guides, these guides will help you ensure your students can access all of your learning materials and that students who use assistive technologies are better served by high-quality content.

Stay Connected using UDL

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles emphasize multimodality, reflective practice, meaningful connections to learning objectives, peer collaboration, and options for demonstrating mastery of course objectives. The three strategies outlined in this resource address how to create inclusive learning experiences using UDL by providing course materials in multiple formats, offering multiple opportunities for participation, and diversifying assessment by using “micro-assignments.”

Accessibility Checklist

This checklist offers several low-effort adjustments you can make to your course content to make it accessible. Adjustments include font size and style, heading styles, alt text for images, descriptive links, and PDF tagging, among others.

It is particularly important to create accessible learning content for online and remote course delivery since students may be learning in less-than-ideal physical environments. Additionally, creating accessible course material preemptively will save you last-minute work should a student who needs accommodations enroll in your course. To better serve your students and enhance their learning experience, consider using these resources compiled by Blackboard Ally to create inclusive and accessible learning content.

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