I wanted to provide a quick update on my restart of The UDL Project: Phase 2, Part 2. I have been reading and sorting and pondering the data we collected in our February 2020 Sharing Circles and Online Survey, and I am in the early days of organizing this data against UDL Principles and a range of accessibility-related challenges experienced by students.
Notable Quotes from Students’ Stories
As I parse the stories that students (and faculty and staff) shared with us before the pandemic, I have been collecting some noteworthy and representative quotes along the way.
One of the questions we asked students in our Sharing Circles and Online Survey was:
What does “Accessibility” mean for you in your life?
Here are some of the responses we received for that question. They are worth ruminating on and considering how you would finish a sentence that begins with “Accessibility means…”
- “creating the space where students can achieve fullest potential”;
- “not feeling self-conscious about how I need to access information”;
- “being on the same playing field as other students who don’t have a disability”;
- “being able to access the college as a whole; the services also affect your college experience and ability to succeed”;
- “all people have the same opportunity to show their contribution to society”;
- “course availability and no financial barriers; and knowing that resources are available to assist you when you need it”;
- “Feeling like this place is for me, was designed for me too”.
It’s now been a year since I posted an update on this project. The past 16-months of remote learning at the college have required the full focus of everyone in eLearning, and all special projects and professional development plans have been on pause for over a year. Thankfully, we are in a much better place now and this has allowed me – at long last! – to return The UDL Project and pick up Phase 2 from where we left off in March of 2020.
Current state & next steps.
In March 2020, our Phase 2 project team had just wrapped the last of our Sharing Circles with students and closed the online survey option for anonymous contributions. We collected many stories, experiences, and suggestions from students in the Circles and from the survey, but had not begun to analyze and organize this data before all the disruptions of 2020.
The mass move to remote learning in 2020 served to highlight some of the very barriers that students shared with us in Circle. Not least among these was that post-secondary systems became vividly aware that students don’t have equal access to technology or the internet. My feeling is that if nothing else, 2020 validated stories about barriers to access that students shared with us before the pandemic hit.
This month, I have begun to review the data we collected last year. I am currently in the early stages of organizing everything we collected into 4 accessibility-related themes: Physical, Cognitive & Comprehension, Financial, and Infrastructure. I will then begin to explore the connections between these accessibility-related barriers to inclusion, and where the pro-active application of Universal Design for Learning guidelines could assist. In addition to UDL, I will also be drawing on the principles of Universal Design, and the technical accessibility standards of WCAG 2.1.
Beginning this fall, I will get to work on the Learning Tool we had planned to create during Phase 2 last year.