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    The Premier AT Conference

Adapting Visual Teaching Tools for Vision Impaired Students

Description
In American higher education, writing courses are central to the baccalaureate degree program. Often called foundational skills courses, most serve as prerequisites for required GE or major courses in other disciplines, therefore reaching the largest number and widest range of students. To combat student apathy and increase engagement, instructors are encouraged to incorporate interactive multimedia and graphic-based learning activities. Leading publications and academic conferences feature gamification strategies, role-playing, and online collaborative tools. Despite the obvious reliance on the visual aspects/attributes of these programs, studies at this point fail to include visually impaired students or considerations and accommodations for this population. Additionally, there is very little conversation about Universal Design for Learning principles when incorporating them in higher ed curriculum. This session will discuss ways to incorporate three effective but highly visual teaching tools, Kahoot, Padlet, and memes, by aligning approaches with UDL principles, specifically enabling vision impaired students to participate in and learn from the activities. The examples and methods presented will relate to the teaching of writing skills in college composition courses, but their intent and implementation can be applied to similar environments in other courses at all levels of education. In specific, Kahoot is an online game-based quiz-building program that launched in 2013 and is now used at all levels of education. Instructors (game-makers) design the quizzes (kahoots) in advance, and students (players) use their cell phones to log in and play the quiz games together. The questions and answers are projected on a shared screen, where students must read them and then click the corresponding color-coded answer on their cell phones. Neither questions nor answers are read aloud by the program, and no textual answers appear on their cell phones, so vision impaired students with adaptive technology are unable to read anything. Accommodation strategies will be presented that allow all students to engage in the competition and have a fair chance at winning. Padlet is a web platform for uploading, organizing, and sharing information on virtual bulletin boards called “padlets.” There are several templates to choose from, and they can be managed by multiple users simultaneously, promoting collaboration and shared learning. They can also be used as individual projects and assigned in place of traditional outlines and written reports. This platform is available for free limited use and has increased in popularity during the COVID pandemic with the shift to virtual instruction. While most of Padlet’s features are compatible with screen readers, the bulletin board design is incredibly flexible, making it unpredictable and difficult for blind and vision impaired students to navigate. In short, while sighted individuals love this platform and the creativity they can express in their design options, this program can be more time-consuming than it is worth for blind students. Rather than throwing out the activity for students with vision impairments, this session will address modifications and preparation strategies to keep it relevant and practical. Memes are an atypical but incredibly engaging teaching tool for exploring audience, tone, bias, style, and rhetorical appeal, to name a few. Relying completely on the viewer’s ability to see and recognize the picture, read the caption, and understand the connection, memes pose a number of problems for blind students. Efforts are being made to streamline the descriptive tagging of memes, including adding audio and alt-text features, but this process is far beyond the understanding of the typical classroom instructor. Nonetheless, with thoughtful preparation and creativity, these visual tools can be adapted to include all students in a lesson with equal participation and understanding.  
Audience
  • Higher Education
  • Disability Specific
Audience Level
Intermediate  
Session Summary (Abstract)
This session will address three popular, highly visual teaching tools—Kahoot, Padlet, and memes—and their uses in classroom instruction, focusing on alignment with Universal Design principles that enable blind and vision impaired students to participate in collaborative activities that promote equity and inclusion.  
Session Type
General Track  
Topics
  • Blind/Low Vision
  • Education
  • Law, Compliance, and Policy

Presenter

  • Rebecca Penrose
    California State University, Bakersfield

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