Blog

Remote Learning & Accessibility

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Remote learning has been a difficult adjustment for many students. However, while some may find remote learning to be detrimental to their academic success, others have found this style of learning to be more accessible and accommodating. 

Some of the benefits of online learning include: 

  • The ability to catch up on missed classes through watching recordings. 
  • Being able to attend class in a more comfortable environment (i.e. the home) 
  • Being able to mute, turn off video and take breaks when needed. 

Some of the drawbacks of online learning include: 

  • Not being able to access people face to face 
  • Zoom/Google Meets and other online school platforms not providing enough accessibility features 

These are just some of the ways online/remote learning has helped and also hindered students academic success.

Once the COVID19 Pandemic does eventually come to an end, and we return to our daily routines, this means that we will most likely return to in-person learning. With that being said, when the time does come to return to the classroom, educational institutions must consider the possibility of continuing to offer a remote option. 

Overall, there needs to be a better understanding of what accessible learning is and looks like for different people.

Accessible Writing In Academia

Thursday, April 1, 2021 

When writing it is important to consider the accessibility needs of your audience. Accessible writing helps you to reach wider audiences and create a more accessible platform for readers. Writing in academic language can be inaccessible to those with disabilities, as it contains words which may be complicated to understand or comprehend. 

Unfortunately, many courses within university or college classes require students to read various texts which contain complicated academic content. This can make attending University seem daunting to many individuals. In order to ensure that education is accessible to all, instructors should consider alternative readings which contain non-academic language.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (See: AODA accessible writing) states that it is important for writers to consider their audiences when writing their text because if writers use an accessible style of writing, they ensure that the text reaches more people. 

Some of the AODA (See: AODA accessible writing) suggestions for accessible writing is to: 

  1. Use as few verbs as possible 
  2. Avoid use of passive voice 
  3. Keep sentences short (20 words or less)
  4. Use simple words (1-2 syllabus are best) 
  5. Avoid the use of semicolons. By making two simple shorter sentences. 
  6. Use exclamation marks, question marks, and transition words to emphasize content, instead of the following methods that some screen readers do not note:
  • Bold
  • Italics
  • Colour
  • Strikethrough
  • Underlines

Another suggestion mentioned by the AODA (See: AODA accessible writing)  that we also try to use is to make sure that the readability is accessible. This means using language that is accessible. Making the readability grade lower than someone in the 10th grade as mentioned by the AODA.

Accessibility on Social Media

Thursday, March 18, 2021 

As a result of the COVID19 pandemic, many people have had to adjust to remote working conditions and adapt to the digital world.With most of our lives currently online, it is time we look into the ways in which we can make online social platforms, such as social media, more accessible. 

 In recent years, social media has become a popular method of communication.  However, in order to allow everyone to benefit from social media it is crucial that these digital platforms are both accessible and inclusive.

 For example, at RyeAccess,  we have made it a priority to include image descriptions for our social media posts. Image descriptions can be “used to convey and provide context in place of an image, graph and other media. Blind and low vision users rely on the alt text attribute to understand the equivalent meaning of images, figures or other graphics in textual form. Alt text should provide a concise description conveying essential information about the image.” (See: Access Ryerson

Another way  to make social media more accessible is by adding closed captioning to videos. “Captions are meant to support people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. They are different from subtitles, which are only meant to translate dialogue for viewers who speak a different language.” (See: Access Ryerson

When it comes to using hashtags in captions,Writing in “camel case”(which is capitalizing the first letter of each word),  can help those who use screen readers differentiate each word, in order to make sure that hashtags are not accidentally read as one long word. An example of this would look like: #RyersonUniversity. Finally, it is crucial that we use inclusive language when it comes to creating social media content,   Access Ryerson defines inclusive language as “language that is free from terminology, tones or phrases that reflect stereotyped or discriminatory views of particular people or groups.” (See: Access Ryerson

Food and Accessibility: What is Food Insecurity

Thursday, March 11, 2021 

Food security exists when everyone, at all times, has physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy and active life (See: Disability and food access and insecurity). Unfortunately, many still experience food insecurity in their daily lives. Imagine your grocery store. What does it look like? Is it affordable? Is it accessible? Does it have stairs? Do you need a car to get to it? Many people face barriers when it comes to accessing food resources: some people are not able to afford the groceries in their area. Some people may not even have access to a grocery store in their area because of physical barriers.

It is also important that we understand the difference between food availability, and food accessibility (See: Not Just Food: Availability vs. Accessibility) . Food availability refers to having food, and food resources within a reasonable distance. Communities which do not have food resources easily available are called “food deserts.” Food deserts may have resources such as convenience stores, fast food restaurants, etc. However, resources such as grocery stores or farmer markets can only be found outside of the area.

Food accessibility refers to the ability to acquire food. Communities may have large quantities of food resources available nearby. However, some people may face difficulties accessing those resources, due to physical or financial barriers. 

Individuals may face barriers to accessing food in multiple ways. Physical barriers can occur when an individual does not have access to a grocery store close to their home, or when their grocery store does not have accessible entrances, isles, etc. Physical barriers to accessing food are important to consider because they may contribute to food insecurity. Overall, food insecurity is a prevalent issue in our society, certain communities are more vulnerable to it than others, due to physical and financial barriers.

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