Four Just-In-Time Tips for Creating Accessible Home Work

A sad boy leaning against a pile of papers.
Image by Patrice Audet from Pixabay

Educators! You’re building the plane while flying it, we know. Here’s a starting place for keeping in mind your students with disabilities who use assistive technology to access the curriculum.

One. Did your printed worksheet start as a digital file?

Provide it as a digital file, too. Assistive technology can access digital files more readily, and often with built-in features of computers and mobile devices.

Two. Avoid making PDF files. Create a Google Site instead.

Google sites are vastly more accessible than most PDF files. They are also reasonably easy to create. Start here toward the goal of a curriculum that is Universally Designed for Learning.

Three. Test your Google Docs, Sheets and Slides with Grackle.

Grackle is Google’s accessibility checker. Run it and make corrections. Your students who use assistive technology will benefit. Here is the Grackle Chrome extension.
Here’s the complete Grackle Suite of tools (free).

Four. Don’t link to a site you can’t tab through.

Websites that cannot be navigated with the tab key, but only a mouse, are not going to work for most assistive technology. There are other barriers at websites, of course, but this is a starting place to know if your student who uses AT will have access. Test the site with your tab key. Can you see where you are as you tab along?

More resources:

These tips were gleaned from an online Town Hall hosted by Mike Marotta (Director of the NJ AT Program) on Monday with a distinguished panel of AT experts who are ready to help everyone from parents to educators. View the Town Hall COVID-19, School Closures and AT: What Do We Do?

Mike also shared a Google doc of crowd-sourced information, “Providing Access to Distance Curriculum”.

Thank you for all that you do for students!

Accessible Materials for All Learners, including tips for IEPs and eLearning Days from SETDA and AEM Center

Office of Civil Rights Short Webinar on Online Education and Website Accessibility (3/16/2020)

Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools While Protecting the Civil Rights of Students (3/16/2020)

Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (3/2020)