Topic 3 How does one account for special needs learners?

Educators need to work hard in order to instill in their learners the love of learning as well as the independence to gain their knowledge on their own. learners work best in a warm and welcoming environment — an environment that will make them feel safe and secure. Educators who include in their classrooms learners that have special needs will need to work harder in order to accommodate their needs in order to enable their learning to the same as the other children that require no special attention. Exceptional children can often be found to have special classroom requirements, like bad eyesight or a difficult relationship with other children due to their interiorization, but it’s critical that their classroom feels like home.

Planning lessons with accessibility in mind is one way to ensure that digital devices, products, and pages used will meet the needs of individuals with disabilities or sensory impairments. The Interaction Design Foundation, for example, identifies a number of concerns that can influence the experience of digital pages and tools. These are:

1.Visual (e.g., color blindness)

2.Motor/mobility (e.g., wheelchair-user concerns)

3.Auditory (e.g., hearing difficulties)

4.Seizures (especially photosensitive epilepsy)

5.Learning/cognitive (e.g., dyslexia)

Other barriers may also arise for users in the form of learning styles, language abilities, geographic location, internet access, and so forth but combined, all these issues shed light on the important role that classroom planning can have in promoting digital accessibility and inclusion.

 Here we have a short video explaining digital accessibility “What is Digital Accessibility?“

In order to plan for a lesson with web material while accounting for special needs learners, an educator must take care that the content is:

⮚PERCEIVABLE: that is, web content that is made available to the senses (sight, hearing, and/or touch) by providing alternatives such as alt-text captions, subtitles, and more;

⮚OPERABLE: meaning that, to ensure page functionality, interfaces provide users enough time to read and use content, and do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures or other physical reactions;

⮚UNDERSTANDABLE: the user interface is easy to use, language is clear, and information is easy to process;

⮚ROBUST: content can be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents, including screen readers and other assistive technologies.

In the classroom, in order for an educator to create an accessible presentation, one or more of these features should be provided:


⮚Audio description;


⮚Delivery through an accessible media player such as Able Player, an open source player whose controls are keyboard-accessible and controllable by speech recognition users.

Provide Context for Animated GIFs

The GIF media format currently has no accessibility support on most social media platforms, so writing an image description is key. If using GIFs, be sure to select one that can be understood through its text content alone. Educators should use Emojis sparingly in order to be mindful of users following along on screen readers. “Braille readers’ software are not ubiquitously updated to reflect emojis, so never rely on emojis to convey the entire meaning of a post or comment”. Consider this example they provide: “shrug” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ will be read by a screen reader as: “Macron, backslash, underline, katakana, underline, slash, macron.”

Avoid Ableist Language and Keep Texts Understandable

Another important facet of promoting accessibility is being mindful of the pervasive and often implicit ableism reflected in many common expressions in our language and culture. This list of ableist terms is a helpful starting point for personal exploration and learning for an educator. Also, educators that have other native languages be mindful of the local ableism terms when confronting disability persons. If you are adding text to your social media posts, another hands-on way to promote inclusion is to use simpler words to help readers follow along. Whenever possible, educators should insert 1-2 syllable words and 25 – 30 words phrases.

To learn more about how to make your digital presence more accessible, check out Digital A11ly’s list of open source accessibility tools. Their site also offers helpful articles on topics such as Tools to Evaluate Your Design for Color Contrast Accessibility, 42 Browser Extensions to Perform Accessibility Testing Effectively, and 17 Free Mobile Accessibility Testing Tools.

Improving accessibility and promoting inclusion in the adult education classroom is ongoing work. Below we offer a preliminary set of resources to help educators deepen your knowledge of accessibility standards and spark curiosity about inclusive design:

⮚Everything You Need to Know About Inclusive Design for Social Media (Hootsuite)

⮚Designing for Accessibility is not that Hard: Seven Easy-to-Implement Guidelines to Design a More Accessible Web (Medium)

⮚VIDEO: The animated guide to inclusive design (Microsoft Story Labs)

⮚VIDEO: An accessible process for inclusive design (Google Developers)

⮚When it Comes to Accessibility, Apple Continues to Lead in Awareness and Innovation (TechCrunch)

⮚As ADA Turns 30, Tech is Just Getting Started Helping People with Disabilities (TechCrunch)

⮚Fierce Disabled Women: 5 Instagram Accounts to Follow (Medium)

⮚9 Apps for Accessibility Technology (BrailleWorks)

⮚Internet Accessibility: Internet Use by Persons with Disabilities (Internet Society)

Here we have a short video explaining how to assign captions to zoom meetings “Closed caption“

Another one explaining how to assign captions to Power Point presentations “How to add live subtitles or captions to PowerPoint + accuracy demo for academics & scientists“

And another one explaining how to assign captions to Power Point presentations “How to add live subtitles or captions to PowerPoint + accuracy demo for academics & scientists“

Make Social Media Posts Accessible

An often overlooked yet increasingly important aspect of inclusive design revolves around the production and dissemination of social media content. As a growing subsect of the Internet, it is crucial for individuals and organizations to consider how to improve accessibility to meet the needs of diverse audiences.

Use Alternative Text Descriptions for Images

‘Alt-text’ aids image recognition by screen readers and allows visually impaired users to hear the description that is being provided. Some platforms like Instagram have recently introduced automatic alternative text so users can hear descriptions of photos when they explore sections of the platform like Feed, Explore and Profile. However, many platforms still do not offer automatic alt-text, so providing custom descriptions is a great way to help improve the accessibility of your posts. Here is an example of how to do so on Twitter and Instagram.

Transcripts and audio descriptions

Transcripts and audio descriptions make multimedia content to be preferred by screen reader users since many set their assistive technology to read at a rate much faster than natural human speech. A transcript also helps learners who can neither hear the audio nor see the video because it integrates with tools such as refreshable Braille devices. A well-produced transcript to be considered should include descriptions of important audio and visual information not captured by dialogue alone, for example, sections where there is laughter and notes when someone is entering or leaving a room.


Captions are text versions of speech and other audio content that allow people who have auditory impairments to follow along with greater ease. To be accessible, captions should be:

⮚synchronized to appear at approximately the same time as spoken content;

⮚capture dialogue and other audio information as closely as possible to what is being spoken;

⮚be easily accessible to those who need it, for example, with the option of turning them on or off (captions that can be turned on by the user are known as ‘closed captions’, while those that remain as a fixture on the screen are known as ‘open captions’.)

If an educator would like to try DIY captioning, Amara’s platform enables you to subtitle any video for free, and offers the option of managing teams of translators for larger subtitling projects. You could also try Clipomatic, a smart video editor that turns all you say into live captions.

Within this part, the reader has been introduced to the complexities of the educator’s life as an integrator of accessibility tools.

Within this part, a set of parameters needed to be considered when setting up an inclusive classroom were enunciated. Also, we have presented a set of characteristics that the content needs to have in order to be relevant to the whole classroom.

Finally, we have presented some guidelines and tutorials for making online content more relevant to the adult learners having various disabilities.