#AcademicTwitter: What are the best ways you've made and/or seen college instructors make courses more accessible?

Some peers asked me for tips so I’ll start with my own, but please add to the list! I’m always looking to learn about more best practices and ideas. 🧵
The biggest tip:
1. Don't wait until a student hands you an accommodations form to start thinking about accessibility.
2. Don't require doctor's notes for absences/makeup exams. They’re expensive and create unnecessary appointments. Just trust your students. If they're lying, it'll catch them someday.
3. Make sure you post any course documents as accessible files, usually either Word docs or PDFs that are screen reader friendly. Here’s some info on checking the PDF quality:
4. If you grade on participation, try to offer multiple avenues for the credit: verbal participation in class, the chat box on Zoom, online discussion boards, taking notes for the class, coming to office hours, etc.
5. Turn on the captions every time you show a video. If you want to assign a video that doesn't have captions, find a version that does.
6. Drop the lowest score in any assignment category where there are multiples (e.g., weekly quizzes or discussion boards). This gives students a sick/break week without having to disclose anything.
7. Make Zoom office hours (cameras on or off) an option regardless of pandemic status.
8. Offer clear rubrics for major assignments so students know how they’ll be graded.
9. Cut side conversations as soon as you notice them. They make it difficult for folks to hear and focus.
10. Post course materials (PowerPoints, notes, etc.) online before/after each class, and make sure students know where to find them.
11. Invite students to share their access needs and offer feedback for how the course could be more accessible to them. This can be as simple as making a survey with Google Forms in which students can be anonymous or list their names.
12. If food is ever part of the class, make sure students have advance notice and space to share any allergies or restrictions.
13. If the class session is longer than an hour, give students a break partway through. That break should be consistent, not just an “if there’s time” thing.
14. IIf you assign a textbook, try to find one that has physical, ebook, and audio versions (or at least two of those).

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More from @SaltySicky

6 Jun
On unsolicited advice for chronically ill folks: Why do we get so upset when you recommend a book, diet, vitamin, exercise, essential oil, tea, meditation, etc?

THREAD. 🧵 #NEISvoid #ChronicPain
1. Because it’s condescending. It suggests that we haven’t done our own research, or aren’t smart enough to consider these ideas. (Anyone recommending yoga or veganism, this is for you. It’s not like we haven’t heard of these things.)
2. Because it feels like victim blaming. It insinuates that it’s our choice to be sick because we don’t want to try new ideas, or we’re just too lazy or closed-minded to do so.

(Truly, if our conditions had easy & accessible cures, we wouldn’t be sick!)
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7 May
This semester my @UUtah Disability & Comm students did Community Activism Projects instead of exams. They identified an issue related to disability and access in their communities, then spent the semester planning and doing something about it.

The projects were AMAZING. 🧵
The only rule was that the projects had to be outward-facing and engage audiences beyond our class, which is why I’m sharing a few here.

There were several more, including some personal/medical ones that I’m not sharing for the sake of privacy, but they were just as awesome.
One duo conducted surveys about disability and access in the U’s Greek Life recruitment practices. They created a detailed report of the results and included research-based recommendations for future practices, which they presented to the U’s Panhellenic Council.
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What makes disabled people #HighRiskCOVID19? I'm lesson prepping for next week's lecture on disability justice, so I made a list!

Heads up: Only the 2 items are directly medical. The rest have to do with sociopolitical issues related to ableism.

THREAD. (Please add to it!)
Starting with the obvious:
1. Medically, some disabled people are more likely to die from COVID or have severe cases if infected. Chronic conditions related to immune, respiratory, & cardio systems are major factors here, but this isn't anywhere near a comprehensive list.
2. Disabled people have to work. The choice to "stay home" is a false one for most disabled folks. We have to pay rent, medical bills, food, and other basic living costs. Further, many disabled folks are kept in entry-level positions in "frontline," public-facing (riskier) jobs.
Read 25 tweets
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I know many folks are struggling with getting things done these days, but I’ve been more productive since the pandemic began than I ever was before it. Why? Academia has been more accessible than ever to chronically ill grad students.

#AcademicChatter / @chron_ac THREAD ⤵️
Without mandated wake up times, evening classes, or extra events to attend, I can work when my body works best—and rest when I need it. Virtual events & conferences also mean I can participate while taking care of my body at home and avoiding flares from travel.
I’ve been able to spend more time reading, writing, & doing teaching prep because I’m not wasting energy managing symptoms that come with typical academic life. Issues like sitting for long periods and forcing my body/mind to work during symptomatic times of day are gone.
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15 Sep 20
THREAD // On forced sterilizations and ICE: This is not new for the US. Especially in closed-door systems like immigration centers, prisons, asylums, institutions for disabled people, etc., it’s a long-standing form of eugenics and social control. Sources below ⤵️
The current ICE issue: google.com/amp/s/lawandcr…
A general, accessible (and terribly titled) summary of sterilization in the US: mic.com/articles/53723…
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