Universal Design for Learning and Innovation Blog
My burning question: How can educators design
their classes to be more inclusive to benefit a
greater number of students?
Have you ever sat through a lecture, or presentation at a meeting and thought, "Did the presenter forget there would be actual people watching this"? Maybe because the presentation is boring, the background and text contrast is awful, the font is too small, there is too much text, or the person is simply reading from his/her slides. Here is a hilarious example of what I am talking about, and I have definitely seen way too many presentations like this by Don McMillan:
Check for Accessibility
Some of the mistakes that presenters make, as Don Mcmillan demonstrated in the video above, can be found by clicking on a new button in PowerPoint called the "Check for Accessibility," which can be found in the backstage view of PowerPoint. When I have used this, it has pointed out when my contrast between text and background could be improved, when font is too small for the audience, and suggests when other elements such as images, graphs, tables, or other visual content can be improved with the consideration for people with various disabilities.
Don't Blame PowerPoint, Blame the Presenter
Despite all of the options we have available to us with presentation software such as prezi, keynote, emaze, Haiku Deck, PowerPoint is still the best presentation software if you know how to use it.
Below I will demonstrate all of the ways that help to make your presentations more inclusive while using PowerPoint to provide the first guideline to UDL principles-"Provide Multiple Means of Representation," with the main focus being on providing students with options for perception.
1.1 Offer ways of customizing the display of information
Text to Speech :
Speakit is a free Google extension that you can upload presentations to under your Google drive account that will read text, notes, and alternative text (describes pictures, graphs, and tables). The app will also read the words on web pages to students as well.
Power Talk is an add on to PowerPoint that is free and will read the text and background text that describes pictures, graphs, and tables that can be found in PowerPoint. All you have to do is download this software, add it into PowerPoint, then remember to use descriptive text to any picture, table, or chart.
1.2 Offer alternatives for auditory information
Speech to Text:
Before starting a presentation, Windows XP can use an accessibility feature called ShowSounds which will instruct programs like PowerPoint to represent auditory information visually by using captions or text bubbles. To do this, on the start button in windows, click control panel, then click accessibility options, or Ease of Access, then click ShowSounds or use text or visual alternatives for sounds (Windows 10)
1.3 Offer alternatives for visual information
I am an extremely visual learner, so I have a bias towards visuals in presentations and tutorial videos. I have to remember that some students might not prefer visual information to text. This is why I now offer a script of everything I intend to say in a presentation or tutorial video. By uploading a Word document as a script ahead of time, students can alter text by formatting keywords in bold, by increasing font size, or deleting information that they don't need.
To create presentations that are inclusive, one has to consider the needs of every audience member. Some might have auditory/visual challenges, and these needs should be considered when developing a presentation.