Resources for educators on accessible teaching and learning

Introduction

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) affects all aspects of serving users with disabilities in OCUL institutions. This includes in-person and online interactions, making both services and collections fully accessible and promoting the value of building an inclusive learning environment to support all library users. The following section outlines best practices to help educators comply with the accessibility requirements under AODA.

What are the best practices for promoting accessibility awareness to educators?

New Staff Orientation or Welcome to Your Library events can present a great opportunity for library staff to introduce new faculty members, sessional instructors, teaching assistants and new reference librarians to the AODA requirements and accessibility criteria as outlined by your institution. Consider asking key accessibility liaison staff to attend this event in order to share their expertise with incoming staff as well as to establish a personal dialogue that could grow into a dynamic relationship of information sharing. Library staff whose portfolios include information literacy and teaching should be aware of how to make their materials accessible.

The York University Faculty Awareness Guide is designed to support educators in teaching students with disabilities. It is an excellent example of how information about student needs can be effectively communicated.

What can educators do in order to make their learning materials accessible?

Ensuring that educators are aware of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR)Section 12: Accessible formats and communication supports is the first step in communicating your institutional requirements.

Consider creating a library page, which explains how and where accessible formats are created at your institution. Include any key accessibility liaison staff as contacts to assist with questions pertaining to creating accessible learning content.

The following examples from OCUL institutions provide information about how and where accessible formats can be requested:

Course readings

It takes time to create course readings in accessible format and August through October is the peak time for production of alternate format readings. Raising awareness of the impact of speedy provision of course reading lists will assist in ensuring that students with disabilities are not disadvantaged by delays.

The Creating Course Reading Lists Guide produced by Queen’s University Library, provides useful information about creating accessible course reading lists.

Accessible assignments

Incorporating the creation of accessible formats into daily practices can help educators to produce fully accessible resources from the beginning. Useful guides for creating accessible documents can be found in the previous sections.

Please refer to the Resources for creating accessible documents section of this toolkit.

Institutional repositories

When submitting scholarly documents to the institutional repository, scholars can be encouraged to consider making their publications accessible. Consider installing an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) tool, which could help the contributor to make a publisher file accessible before submitting it to the repository. Including “alt text” tags for images in an OCR’d PDF offers users the option to contribute image descriptions for tagging purposes.

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

Automatic notifications reminding educators to ensure that the material they are adding to courses should be made accessible could be used when loading materials onto an LMS or when submitting reading lists. These notifications could be accompanied by a quick link to the library guide on how to make course readings accessible or how to create accessible handouts. Consider all relevant access points to reach your audience.

How can educators promote accessibility resources to their students?

Educators should promote the availability of accessibility resources to their students at the start of the course. This information can be distributed through accessible handouts, an in- class presentation, a library orientation session or an email. The information should contain contact information for the disability, equity and mental health offices, and highlight what resources may be available through the library. This communication is essential in ensuring that students are well equipped and ready to cope with any accessibility challenges they are faced with in the school year.

What additional resources are available to educators?

The Educators’ Accessibility Resource (EAR) Kit developed by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) responds directly to the requirements in Section 16: Training to educators of the IASR, and includes information and tools to help educators create more inclusive learning environments.

The EAR Kit includes:

The University of Toronto’s Creating an Inclusive Course and Classroom website also aims to meet the standards outlined in the AODA and identifies detailed, practical strategies for accessible and inclusive teaching.

The guide includes:

The Council of Ontario Universities (COU)’s Accessible Campus guide to IASR Section 16: Training to Educators also provides a number of resources in meeting educational requirements for accessibility.