An ideal world is one where everyone gets equal opportunities and a fairground to learn and grow. In the real world, this is far from the truth, and physical disabilities often hinder an individual’s growth. While the educational institution does strive for an inclusive approach, it is seen that students under the disability quota often do not get a fair footing. Often, we see that such students are not comfortable asking for special accommodations even when they deserve them.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote learning has been the norm, and the classroom has taken a digital form. While this was a welcome step, the fact is a digital learning experience can be especially challenging for students with disabilities. As the impairments range from mild to severe, so will be the customization of the tools.
In such a challenging situation, video can work wonders in bridging the gap and providing an inclusive academic environment. We expect that in the coming days, the world of academics will have a hybrid model. The hybrid model will be a combination of online and in-person classes. In such a scenario, let us look at how video can provide equal learning opportunities to specially-abled students.
Accessible Online Learning Tools
A modern-day digital classroom is one where the teacher uses a host of learning tools to convey to establish communication. These include polls, chatrooms, etc. You need to understand that all disabled students may not have access to such learning tools.
Educators need to walk the extra mile and arrange a one-on-one practice session wherein they talk with each disabled student to understand what works for them and what does not.
For example, if an educator realizes that polls are not accessible for one or more students in the class, they can add the poll question in a video and play it. The students can then respond to the question via email or any other form that is convenient for them. Such proactive use of video in the classroom will go a long way in establishing an inclusive learning environment.
Subtitles and Closed Captioning
It is not plausible for every instructor to be well-versed with sign language. That makes it a challenge for students with hearing disabilities to focus on a live classroom as they need to concentrate on lip reading. When an educator creates a video, they can use a video editor to add closed captioning and subtitles to the video. That way, deaf students can also read the text and follow the class like everyone else in the batch.
Simplify Note Taking
Under the traditional setup, educational institutions expect students to be attentive in class and take notes on what is being taught to them. However, for people with certain physical disabilities, it is a Herculean task to take notes at a regular pace. Going slow causes them to miss out on some crucial elements of the lecture, thus slowing their academic story.
With video, the student can focus on grasping the concepts knowing that they can re-watch the video for notes. That way, the student can concentrate better and have a better learning experience.
Accessible Images and Videos
As an educator, you may need to include images or videos in your presentation in a bid to make them more attractive. While this is a welcome move, make sure that the images or video that you use is accessible through screen readers. Failing to do so will cause disabled students to miss out on the lectures.
A good fraction of disabled students uses tools like Nonvisual Desktop Access (NVDA) or Job Access with Speech (JAWS). Try to familiarize yourself with the different screen readers before you set out to create an inclusive classroom. To make your presentation disabled-friendly, add image or video and then alt text. That way, the text which you enter appears instead of the image when viewed through a screen reader.
Bridging the Practical Divide
Students in higher and technical education often need to spend long hours in the laboratories watching their instructors perform complicated experiments before they can try their hands at it. Disabled students often find it challenging to be on their feet for such long hours. If educators can record such demonstration videos, the disabled students can do their preparatory work remotely and come to the laboratory to perform the actual experiment.
With modern video editing tools, it is possible to create detailed videos that give students a holistic picture of the entire experiment before they get their hands on it. Such an initiative will simplify the lives of disabled students and open the doors of science and technology for many of them.
High-Contrast Video Backgrounds
While working on remote learning for the disabled, you need to understand that not every student who is visually impaired is blind. If your video has a high contrast border with bold fonts, chances are that the text will be readable to such students. Color combinations such as that of white on black or navy blue (or vice versa) are efficient in such situations.
While using an online video editor tool, make sure you go for templates with a high contrast difference. With tools like Invideo, there will be multiple such choices to establish your creativity while conveying the message in a form that is understandable for everyone.
Research has proven that seeing is believing, and an average individual is more likely to recall a video they watched instead of some lines of text that they read. For students with disabilities, there is an additional pressure to perform, and this makes it challenging for them to grasp concepts or commit things to memory.
In such a situation, the use of video will help them get comfortable with the learning environment. They will then get to a position to channelize their efforts to get to know what is being taught without having to worry about basic things such as navigating around the campus. This will help create an inclusive academic environment and provide equal opportunities to people with disabilities.