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Designing Online Learning that is Inclusive of Students Who are Neurodiverse

taught by: Sheryl Burgstahler

Session Summary

Sometimes online course designers or instructors inadvertently erect barriers to students with disabilities, including those who are neurodivergent and who have conditions that impact their ability to hear, see, process information, and engage. In this session the presenter and participants will share tips on creating a course that is fully accessible, usable, and inclusive and share resources for further study.


Find Designing Online Learning that is Inclusive of Students Who are Neurodiverse on the Knowbility Learning Center

COVID-19 pandemic forces us to quickly design new learning opportunities for students. In our haste to move courses online, many educators have unintentionally erected barriers to many students with disabilities. Participants applying practices presented in this session will have a chance to feel the joy in removing barriers to this group. The speaker will share a Universal Design Framework for designing inclusive online, on-site or hybrid courses. UD is defined by the Center for Universal Design as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” Besides basic UD principles, the Universal Design for Learning principles developed by CAST to offer further apply UD to pedagogy. Similarly, online learning can be made more accessible by applying the principles that underpin the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The UD Framework builds on these three sets of principles. This presentation will share tips to help faculty and course designers get started in creating more accessible courses and updating courses for their next offerings. A focus will be placed on specific practices that benefit neurodiverse learners. Applying UD tips will contribute to the joy we face when our students learn.

Instructor will present virtually.

Practical Skills

  • Participants are expected to be able to describe characteristics of students who might encounter barriers when attempting to engage in an online course.
  • Participants are expected to be able to compare an accommodations-only model for course accessibility with a universal design approach.
  • Participants are expected to be able to list 8 tips for designing an accessible and inclusive course.