Accessible and inclusive teaching

Why is this important?

Studying at Oxford requires deep and rigorous engagement with complex new material from all students. Many students experience barriers with access to learning content that have nothing to do with their ability to learn and fully master all that is required.

What can these guides do for your students?

These guides and materials will help you remove many of these blocks to learning and make sure your students can focus on what they came to Oxford to do: study and grow.

This way, you can help them put all their time and effort towards learning and study rather than dealing with unnecessary complications.

Most of these tips and suggestions will make learning more productive for all your students. But for many of them, they will make a real difference.

How you can benefit personally?

In most cases, you will benefit from creating a more inclusive and accessible environment yourself. For instance, when you come to review your materials after a while away from them, or when you collaborate on them with your colleagues.

What does inclusivity mean for your teaching?

You can make small changes to many of these aspects of your teaching that will have a big impact:

  • Digital content
  • Teaching and learning activities
  • Assessments

Digital content

You can make your documents more inclusive by making sure they:

  • have clear structure and comprehensible navigation
  • use bullets and numbers for lists
  • highlight important passages
  • use larger font and line spacing
  • use graphics to illustrate important points
  • use relevant and appropriate language

You can also make your presentations more accessible if you :

  • reduce the amount of information per slide
  • only use relevant images for illustration
  • use large font
  • create summary slides
  • highlight what to focus on as you speak

You can help students with more complex needs by making all documents available in formats that enable them to change the formatting to suit their needs.

More guidance and training is available (SSO required).

Teaching and learning activities

You can include more students in the learning process if you offer variety and flexibility. You can read more about this in the Introduction to Inclusive Teaching Canvas course. Here are a few examples:

  • Make sure your students know when and where all activities are taking place. Example: use the Canvas calendar for all deadlines or even send calendar invites with Teams.
  • Be consistent in where and when you share important course information. Example: use a Canvas course with a clear outline using Modules.
  • Give your students as many materials prior to lectures and seminars as possible. Example: show your slides before your lectures, or record a video summary before lectures or seminars.
  • Point your students to additional and alternative sources of learning about your material. Example: enrich core readings with links to videos, podcasts, or interviews with specialists in your field.
  • Offer your students more ways to contribute to discussion. Example: Use polls, session chat during online teaching or small group discussions.

Assessments

Most of the things you can do to make assessment more inclusive and accessible would already count as best practice.

Formative assessment is essential to all learning success. Many students with learning disabilities particularly benefit from more opportunities to gauge their progress. Give students frequent feedback on their work and set up opportunities for them to learn with and from their peers.

Perhaps the most important thing for exams and other forms of summative assessment is that students have a chance to experience the exam conditions ahead of time. This is particularly important for any students who must use some form of assistive technology.

The key principle here is that students should never have to use any tool for the first time under stressful exam conditions. That’s why you should encourage them to use any technologies they need throughout their learning.

More information and definitions

Being inclusive is about giving equal access and opportunities to everyone wherever possible.

This is how JISC explains what inclusivity means in a teaching and learning context.

Disability Advisory Service’s guidance for staff

Full definitions of key terms and more information can be found in the Disability Advisory Service’s guidance for staff:

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