Five things you can do right away to make your in person teaching more accessible and inclusive

Photo by Joao Cruz on Unsplash

Accurate transcripts are important for people who need them, whether it be for deaf students, international students or perhaps where there is a lot of technical language. For each of these groups, inaccurate transcripts can be severely impactful when it comes to relying on them for assessment.  Accuracy is also important for the increasing number of AI enabled learning and assistive technologies. Many of them use pre-recorded content and rely on accurately captured transcriptions. Whether it be for summaries, flashcards, reviewing or searching Рaccuracy matters.

With a nod to Deaf Awareness Week last week and on today’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day, this short post will highlight a few ways in which we can make our teaching more accessible as well as being more useful for transcription based AI tools.  

1. Who and what is in the room? 

Knowing who in your classroom can go a long way to mitigating some of the accessibility challenges your students will face. Having awareness of their needs and any software or interventions being used can help you in planning and thinking about where you stand or where you focus your attention when speaking. Even better and more often than not, your students will tell you what works for them, or offer advice. 

2. Be seen 

Some with hearing impairments rely on lip reading, this can be challenging in dark rooms and impossible when the lips are facing away from them. Ensure you have lights on at the front of your lecture, speak clearly at a relaxed pace, focusing your attention to your deaf students as much as is practically possible. Also avoid covering your face with your hands or microphone when speaking.  

3. Be heard 

In most teaching spaces, microphones are available for use by teaching staff. It’s critical that these are used, whether they be desk mounted, lapel or wireless mics, there is a solution for most situations. Never assume you can be heard without them. People with hearing aids may use the Hearing Loops available in teaching spaces, using a mic is critical for this to work. When taking input from the students, either repeat what is said or pass the wireless mic around.  

4. Live captions 

Using Zoom or PowerPoint it is possible to display live captions on the screen during your session. Whilst this is not required, it can certainly be beneficial. 

5. Check in 

Finally, follow up with your students, is it working for them? You may not be able to meet all adjustments they want, but we should absolutely be meeting the adjustments they need. 

When it comes to the transcript, obviously a well-lit room isn’t going to have an impact, but clearly spoken dialogue at a reasonable volume will produce much better results. Whilst automatic captions may still fall short of 100% accuracy in most cases, if your students have been in the room and able to hear through Hearing Loops, or lip read during the session, they’ll be better able to fill the gaps or self correct any technical language inaccuracies.  

What have I missed? Are you a student who relies on good audio and transcripts, what helps you? Let me know in the comments. As ever if you need support for your teaching at Sussex, then get in touch with your Learning Technologist or Academic Developer for support.

Posted in Accessibility, AI, Inclusive teaching

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We are the Educational Enhancement team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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