Technology & Accessibility

Equal access to classrooms and curricular materials are required by law. Princeton’s Office of Disability Services (ODS) helps members of the campus community with accessibility concerns. In the case that a student needs special accommodation with course materials, ODS will make sure that that student’s needs are met.

There are, however, other subtler inclusion issues with regard to course materials and teaching spaces. The McGraw Working Group on Inclusive Learning and Teaching meets regularly to discuss a wide array of hidden or unidentified barriers to teaching and learning. Although technology is not central to this discussion, it is essential in solving some common issues of access.

One technology-based approach to developing curricular materials is Universal Design. Universal Design is based on the premise that ease-of-use, when “built-in” makes the end design easier for all to use. Universal Design intends that materials be accessible to the widest possible audience, considering ability, cultural difference, gender identity, linguistic background, or prior experience.

In April of 2016, the University Ad Hoc Committee on Technology and Accessibility published a report on “Accessibility of Information Technology at Princeton.” Among the recommendations of the committee was a charge that “The University should study the need for accessibility around course content, library reserves, and classroom technologies.” The study also mandated that the Digital Access Steering Committee should consider establishing “minimum standards for digital accessibility in all teaching and meeting spaces.”

The McGraw Center can help answer questions on how best to design and deliver course materials so that they are accessible to--and inclusive of—our diverse student population. Rather than starting with the idea of disability, we prefer to focus on abilities.

Want to learn more about Universal Design in Education? The National Center on Universal Design for Learning provides some helpful examples of how you might make your curricular materials more accessible to the broadest range of learners.