"COVID has taught us all about the ability for the institution to engage with accessible practices in the learning environment. The VPUA has a seat at SCAPA which would be able to regulate how on the academic level the school can commit to accessibility. I would also sit on the Accessible Education Committee (AEC) which provides recommendations to stakeholders on accessible access."
what can we do?
Offering Synchronous and Asynchronous Components to Online Learning
Students thrive with different modalities of learning. As such, every course should be equipped with both synchronous and asynchronous components to enrich students’ learning experience. The synchronous components for primarily asynchronous courses would be optional but would give students the opportunity to interact with the professors and other students in the class. Asynchronous components are important for students who prefer an asynchronous style of learning, which is why it needs to be an option for synchronous courses. This is based on a recommendation by the Academic Provost and would be facilitated through SCAPA in conjunction with the office of the Provost.
Zoom has also introduced its own barriers to accessible education, with the overreliance of on-camera usage and its flattening of voices and faces. Courses that use Zoom need to have a more robust etiquette guide when it comes to using the software, recognizing the position the software places students in. This guide should include but not be limited to:
Committing to making camera usage optional for students
Defaulting on the enabling the closed captioning function across the University
Reinstating the chat function
Recording of Lectures for Students with Accessibility Needs
As a Director of the WSS, I was the chair of the working group investigating the implementation of mandatory lecture recording for students with accessibility needs. Faculty pushed back because they saw it as an infringement of their rights to their academic material. However, online learning has taught us that it is more than possible for this to be facilitated for students with accessibility needs, building on the accommodation processes already in place. I would like to use a bottom-up approach by targeting faculty first as opposed to the administration, using the AEC and SCAPA to provide recommendations. The University of Toronto and The University of British Columbia have experimented with lecture recording in the classroom, I am committed to working with the COVID-19 Return to Campus Education & Planning Group and Facilities Management to commit to a service that works well for our students.