Program 4: Class Product Preparation


Today we're in Noel's office, as we continue to follow the process of implementing UDL in his summer class.

Noel we've already looked at your preparation for the classroom environment and your prep for the classroom presentation. Is there something that we have to do to the product that the students are going to access, including the textbook, any class notes, any handouts, PDF files, online materials, that kind of thing?

Sure, the short answer is yes. As an instructor you want to make sure that all your materials are accessible to everybody, regardless of learning style or ability level. You never know who is going to be in your class and you don't know how they learn best; you don't know if they have a disability that requires special attention. You need to make sure that all of your materials are accessible to everyone.

You also need to consider that many of these students will be accessing these documents from different places, some of them using AT, so you need to make sure if you want to develop a universally accessible classroom that you make your materials accessible in many different formats.

Alright so let's talk about specifically what you've done for class, starting with the textbook.

The textbook is important. The instructor should make sure that the book they've selected for class is available in both print and electronic format. By making sure that they have access to that electronic format- if students need- they can manipulate that electronic file and make sure that they can use whatever technology they use to get access to that book.

How might one go about finding out if the textbook is available in digital format as well as print?

Just a simple call to the publisher and they will let you know.

What about other products that are used in the class, such as supplementary materials, such as supplementary readings, class notes, what have you done with those?

With most classes now, having a website for dissemination or communication, it is really easy for me as an instructor to have my materials available in digital format. However doing this doesn't mean that we are doing universal design.

What do you have to do then to universally design this electronic, digital text?

All my handouts, all my extra readings, all the other class notes that I use in my class, will be available to the students through our course website in different formats; for example, HTML, PDF, or rich-text format.

And by you making available in different formats, or making sure that regardless the level of technology, regardless the learning style of the individual, they will have access to the material like everybody else in the classroom.

So essentially by providing the same- the same material in different formats you're making it so that anyone can access it no matter what tools-


-they can use. Is it possible that someone can think that they're creating an accessible file by putting it online, yet it's not actually accessible, even though it is electronic digital text?

Absolutely. Take for example PDFs- a really popular format, a lot of people are using it now; however, when somebody is using a PDF file, what I recommend they do first is make sure that the document is not locked so screen readers actually can go through the document and read it for the individual.

In order for you as an instructor to make PDF file accessible you just need to go through a really simple tagging process that will determine and assign the different reading order, description for the pictures, the table navigation, so that everybody will access to the documents.

So you said that you put multiple formats of things on your website. What do you put on your website for students to access?

Well, before every class, I make sure that my class outline is already available for the students, and like I said they are available in different formats.

Also, if I have different-extra readings or handouts that I want them to have I make sure that they are available for them.

What other products do you offer on the class website?

Before class, every student will have access to that day's course outline-in different formats like I just said- and the benefit of this is that it will allow those students to have a structure for them to be organized before stepping in to the classroom.

Why did you decide to offer outlines and powerpoints to students prior to coming to class.

Well they are not meant to be a substitute for the student notes; however, it will give them the structure for the student while they step in to the classroom. It is important for those students who have difficulty taking their own notes, or they cannot concentrate well while taking notes and listening to the instructor at the same time, but it just gives them the structure for them to get started on being organized.

Now what about the website itself? We've talked a lot about the products that go on the website, but do we have to do something to universally design the website itself?

Yes and that is a very good question because a lot of instructors really get into developing a website and they want to have graphics and a lot of things going on in the website-however- you know it's good to have all those things but it's also important to make sure that, for example, all the pictures that are included in the website have an alternative description to it so the screen reader can pick it up and say this is a picture of whatever the picture might be.

Your links, your hyperlinks, they have to be clearly stated so it will help with the navigation so somebody who is using a screen reader will be able to just flow through the website with no problems.

If you have videos, you need to make sure that those videos have closed captioning so that everybody can have access to them and they can just pick out and read what is going on in those videos as well.

And so even though this helps people with disabilities, this is also something that just lays out the organization of the website much better for anybody to follow and see exactly where they're going.

Absolutely, absolutely.

Well now that we've seen all of your preparation, it's going to very interesting to see how all this plays out in the classroom setting. We're really looking forward to it and seeing how it goes and finding out some student reactions a little further down the line.

I think this will be helpful for my class.

Thanks, Noel.


Implementing UDL