Updated: Jun 22
In a world that is now almost completely virtual, with schools and workplaces going remote for months on end, it can be difficult to take typical, in-person inclusive practices and apply them to our new online spaces. But, as the TIES Center says, everyone must continue to ask themselves “where does inclusion exist in a social distancing world?”
Supporting inclusion and creating inclusive learning spaces is already challenging in many ways, so new restrictions have continued to put up barriers for our students with disabilities. However, even though it might feel like we are taking steps backward instead of forward right now, there are many simple ways we can continue to make inclusion a priority.
If you’re an educator or professional looking to make your classroom or office more inclusive, follow this list of ways to make online meeting spaces accessible:
Provide materials beforehand
Allowing students and colleagues to prepare beforehand by providing the materials early will help them be more equipped for the lesson or meeting, as well as help them follow along with the material throughout.
Offer closed captioning (CC)
Luckily for us, technology has advanced to the point that CC is relatively accurate. CC allows people in the deaf and hard of hearing community to be part of the conversation, but can also be useful for people who learn best through written and visual content.
Describe visuals and activate text to speech accessibility options
Describing visuals and using accessible documents that allow text to speech options opens the door to those with visual impairments.
Use nonverbal cues
One of the main ways humans communicate with one another is through nonverbal cues, and some people only communicate nonverbally. While it might seem silly to use nonverbal communication methods through an online platform, facial expressions and gestures are more important now than ever. Nonverbal cues add a lot to the conversation and help increase someone’s understanding of what is being said, so don’t shy away from being expressive and allowing others to communicate nonverbally.
Assign roles, such as a note-taker
While the pandemic means we can no longer have a “snack provider” role for mee