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Mohawk researcher's work offers new teaching resources to help instructors create accessible virtual courses

A new case study from Mohawk College is showcasing new teaching resources for post-secondary educators that can help them create accessible virtual courses.

The digital resources were created as part of a 2019-2020 capstone research project by Accessible Media Production student Allison Fitzgibbon. Now a graduate of Mohawk College and working full-time at Sheridan College, Fitzgibbon’s goal was to help college and university faculty embrace inclusive design.

“With the increase in remote learning ,” says Fitzgibbon, “Faculty want to understand potential barriers in their course materials and work to ensure that their courses are as accessible as possible for all potential learners.” 

Over 22% of Canadians aged 15 and older have disabilities that may interfere with their ability to access and share information. Fitzgibbon’s Inclusive Design in Online Learning Project highlighted common accessibility barriers to inclusive online learning for both students taking a course and for faculty delivering a course. With those barriers identified, she created a faculty training module focused on Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Differentiated Instruction, and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. She also designed a fillable course template that faculty could use to make sure their courses embraced inclusivity.

The Inclusive Design for Online Learning course template has been shared with hundreds of college faculty and staff at over 15 post-secondary institutions, across Canada and internationally.

The significant interest in Fitzgibbon’s resources reflects a welcome demand for inclusive tools, says Jennifer Jahnke, Program Coordinator for the Accessible Media Production Program and lead researcher at Mohawk’s Accessibility Lab. She served as the research advisor for the project.

“For faculty, meeting the educational needs of students is always the number one priority,” says Jahnke “Inclusive design is about designing content that can be used by everyone. Allison’s work reinforces that with the right tools, inclusive design doesn’t have to be an afterthought.”

To learn more about the Inclusive Design in Online Learning Project, read the case study.