Syllabus Inventory: Are Your Digital Text Readings Accessible for Students with Disabilities?
Part Three of the Accessibility Series introduces a common and significant barrier between students with disabilities and academic success. The readings included in your syllabi are carefully chosen to align with your course objectives and meaningfully support students’ understanding of the subject and discipline. The formats of some readings, however, present barriers to students who have disabilities that interfere with learning from text. For this reason, certain students will not have the same opportunity as others to benefit from your course materials. In this session, strategies for ensuring that your course readings are accessible to all students will be examined.
Thursday, February 27th
Noon to 1:30
423/424 Glickman Family Library, USM Portland Campus
The Spring 2014 Accessibility Series is designed to guide faculty in adopting foundational practices that result in accessible digital learning experiences for USM students, including learners with disabilities. Topics include basic characteristics of disabilities; resources and assistance provided for both students and faculty by USM’s Disability Services Center; practical considerations when developing courses; steps for ensuring accessibility of course readings and educational materials; and features of Blackboard that maximize use and engagement by all students.
The series is led by USM Faculty members Cynthia Curry and Julie Alexandrin and USM’s Director of Disability Services Center Joanne Benica.
Spring 2014 Accessibility Series events include:
- USM’s Obligation to Our Students with Disabilities: The Role of Collaboration Between Faculty and the Disability Services Center – Thursday, 1/30
- The First Steps to Successful Online Teaching for Students with Disabilities – Thursday, 2/6
- Syllabus Inventory: Are Your Digital Text Readings Accessible for Students with Disabilities? – Thursday, 2/13
- Blackboard for Diverse Learning Experiences – 2/27
Julie Alexandrin, PhD
Julie R. Alexandrin, Ph.D. is an associate professor of Abilities and Disabilities Studies in the department of Educational Psychology and Exceptionality in the School of Education and Human Development. Julie has worked with students with disabilities at all levels of education. Her teaching and scholarship have focused on creating better understanding of who students with disabilities are and how to best support, work with, and teach them. She brings not only her knowledge from her research and scholarship to the trainings, but also her hands on teaching in face-to-face, blended, and completely online courses which are Universal in Design, and therefore meeting the multiple needs of diverse student learners.
Joanne joined the USM community in August 2012 as the Director of the Disability Services Center. Her primary role is to work individually with students who have physical, medical, sensory, and psychological disabilities, as well as with faculty and staff to facilitate appropriate delivery of accommodations across campus. Previously, she worked as Director of the Disability Support Services office at American University in Washington, D.C. She also worked as a social worker for five years after obtaining her Bachelors degree in Social Work from the Pennsylvania State University. She received her Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Arkansas in 2001.
Cynthia is a USM adjunct faculty member and consultant who applies her expertise in technology, universal design, and accessibility to improve teaching and learning in K-12 and higher education. Currently, her projects include Transforming Teaching through Collaborative Teacher Education, a USM SEHD grant funded by the U.S. DOE's Office of Special Education Programs; the Maine AIM Program, a U.S. DOE-funded initiative to provide training and technical assistance on Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) for Maine educators; and the MLTI-Teacher Preparation Collaborative, a Maine DOE-funded partnership between the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) and seven of Maine's teacher preparation programs. Through the Maine DOE, Cynthia has developed numerous online resources on strategies for making curriculum and digital learning objects accessible across the widest range of student variability. She has spoken nationally on Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Response to Intervention (RTI), and AIM. In 2008, Cynthia was named Person in Education by the National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRESt).