In February, BCcampus hosted a four-part webinar series on inclusive design. Each webinar focused on a different topic to address the varying ways that inclusive design practices can influence post-secondary education.
Post by Josie Gray, Coordinator of Collection Quality, Open Education
In open education, we often talk about OER being “online and freely accessible,” but making something free and putting it on the Internet doesn’t mean that everyone can access it. If we want to stay true to our goal of accessibility, we must make sure that we design open resources to be accessible and inclusive for all students.
In part, this means following accessibility guidelines for web resources and different files types so that students with disabilities have equal access to learning materials. This is vital and something we talk a lot about in these webinars. But accessibility guidelines alone won’t ensure universal access. There is no average “student,” and all students—disabled or not—can face barriers depending on their context. And that is where inclusive design comes in.
Inclusive design is never something that we complete. Nor is it something that can be perfected. It is not a finish line we can cross. Instead, it is something to practice, integrate with our everyday work, and continually revisit and reevaluate. And we hope that these webinars can act as a starting place for that process.
In the first webinar, Jess Mitchell, Senior Manager of Research and Design at the Inclusive Design Research Centre, joined us to introduce the concept of inclusive design. Jess explained that inclusive design is “design that considers the full range of human diversity” and highlighted the importance of creating adaptable and flexible resources that allow people to customize their experience in a way that works best for them.
In week two, we looked at inclusive design in presentations. Here, we covered how to create accessible PowerPoint slides, how to present in an accessible way, and how sharing presentation materials in multiple formats can make your talk or lecture more accessible.
When it comes to creating open textbooks, Pressbooks is a powerful tool. And applying inclusive design practices to the OER that we are creating in Pressbooks can help ensure that the book is easy to use and navigate in all formats.
In the final week, we worked on expanding our conceptions of what inaccessibility may look like to illustrate the diverse needs and barriers that students face. We offer a way to think more critically about digital and print accessibility, especially as it relates to open textbooks and open educational resources.