Education is Accessibility – Intro

Edis_016_AccessibilityIntro [read the transcript]

I’ve been talking with some knowledgable people about accessibility lately. Arron Wings, Barb Mussman and Amanda Thompson of Learning Services at Kirkwood Community College provide a detailed sketch of support for students needing accommodations. Lauri Hughes, Nursing Department Coordinator, describes her personal story of receiving support as a student at Kirkwood and where that has led her career and her heart. Andrea Skeries of Geonetric regularly educates me on web accessibility (A11Y) solutions and news. Maryam Rod Szabo and Wilson Rojas from KCELT help me fit accessibility into the big picture of Universal Design for Learning.

Five conversations to be published over the next five weeks (or so). My goals are to raise awareness and to continue the conversation about making learning accessible to everyone. Thanks for listening!

EPISODE 016, Accessibility Intro, TRANSCRIPT

Hey everyone, this is Alan Peterka with the Education Is podcast, a show about people engaged in teaching and learning. This semester I want to start a conversation about Accessibility.

Web accessibility is the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with or access to websites by people with disabilities and those using assistive technologies.

Part of it is your philosophy or our philosophy of are you running an accommodation services or a disability services department to meet the minimum requirements of the law, or are you operating your services in a way that is going to maximize students’ access to education. Because that’s what our first mission at Kirkwood is, to give students access to the educational experience.

It’s more about access and demonstrating knowledge rather than receiving knowledge.

…but I think the best way to think about it is what if I don’t have the abilities that I have today? What if I don’t have them next week, or a year from now? What if I lose some of these abilities. What do I want to be available to me?

…and because of my visual limitations teachers often would treat me as if the problem with my eye affected my brain, and they would treat me as if I was mentally disabled. It was always this challenge to just try to prove that I was just an average kid.

…our purpose is really to talk with the student and find out directly from the student what they feel are the accommodations they need.

Each student has a different question or concern or problem or skill that they need to work on, and so something’s different every day.

These are just some of the people engaged in supporting and designing for accessibility. I’ve been learning a lot from them, and I want to share their voices with everyone. So, this semester I’m producing a series of five episodes all centered on the concept of accessibility. My hope is that you will join the conversation, contribute your voice, share your stories, and learn what steps you can take to make your courses and course materials more accessible to all learners.

Subscribe to the show on iTunesU or wherever you get your podcasts so you won’t miss an episode, and join the community on