The pandemic may be on the decline but it has truly transformed the way we operate in every facet of our lives. Education and learning face an especially uphill battle. 7 million students in special education are currently affected by the pandemic.
The newer remote-heavy approach has, however, opened doors for new opportunities as well. The digital revolution gives us both the tech and the infrastructure to help disabled learners get equal learning opportunities in the comfort of their homes.
The challenge remains in using technological advancement in including students with disabilities in the remote learning landscape. The goal is to help them learn efficiently and progress in every way possible.
5 steps to make remote learning accessible
Students with disabilities usually have complex communication needs. They are not able to talk freely, which is why their teachers have to rely on visual indicators to provide them alternative choices to respond. This becomes difficult to replicate in online classes.
Below are some ways to make remote learning accessible to learners with special needs.
1. Utilise creativity and flexibility
You can begin by grouping students that need special attention. Provide them with a user interface that is designed to accommodate their needs. Talk to them and ask what would make learning easier for them.
Moreover, you can provide instruction modules, elaborate study material, and resources. The idea is to be creative and treat every student based on their needs.
2. Support the students’ families for their success
Educational institutions should ideally keep the parents of students in the loop at all times. It becomes even more important with special students.
Educating them about dealing with learning challenges goes a long way in making sure the learner receives an ideal learning environment at home.
Train them to use the platform the learner is going to use. Let them know about the assignments to be handed out in advance.
3. Focus on the key learning outcomes
Discuss with the administrators what learning outcomes are the most pivotal to the learning curve of a student. Focus on them and drop what is not needed.
Do this on a student-to-student basis instead of the whole group together. Understand that not all students are learning at the same pace and some might need more time to grasp the same concepts.
4. Ensure the content is accessible
A crucial element of online learning is to ensure that students can access the information the way it is meant to. Students must be well equipped to make use of the content provided to them.
See if they can log in to the class successfully, know how to use the keyboard correctly, can zoom in on the pictures and PDFs, and use closed captioning on videos when required.
If the learners are unable to perform these tasks, take time aside to teach them these basics in a simplified manner.
5. Conduct an audit of your website
Conduct a thorough audit of your website to make sure it is accessible to all learners. It can be something as simple as the font size that may make it difficult for a user to use it with ease.
Check that your website offers smooth navigation and clear access to PDFs and videos. Make note of what needs amends to improve on them. You may even ask learners themselves for feedback.
The technological advancement in the wake of the pandemic has provided us with opportunities to revamp our educational infrastructure in more ways than one. We can especially help learners with disabilities by making learning more accessible to them than it ever was.
A little bit of planning and a proactive approach by teachers can help learners with special needs access and enjoy education opportunities akin to their peers. Train them and their parents to use platforms correctly and access learning materials.
Keep them in the loop to relay necessary information and receive feedback. Act immediately in case they need assistance. Lastly, and most importantly, keep encouraging them to keep learning.