By Molly Wright Starkweather, Kaplan University Writing Center
There are many ways writing centers can provide fully accessible services to all students.
Compose handouts with screen readers in mind. Screen readers are part of assistive technology for students with low or no vision. There are also many students who learn better when they hear words read to them. One consideration when making a resource for students is to use alternative text for screen readers to describe images. Since students with low vision have trouble seeing images, use the Alt Text option to ad an explanation when formatting pictures in tutorials and presentation handouts.
Use synchronous tutoring that includes audio and chat. Most online meeting programs feature ways for students to use a microphone to speak or a keyboard to type. Whether you are using Adobe Connect, Google Hangout, Go To Meeting, or other online space for synchronous tutoring, encourage tutors to use audio and text as necessary to anticipate the different needs of students.
Use media rich feedback in asynchronous tutoring. Incorporating audio files, interactive links, and/or video is one way to further engage students. The Kaplan University Writing Center uses screencast video technology for most asynchronous paper reviews, and while there are many options for screencasting, one technology that has worked well for the KUWC has been Screencast-o-matic because of the option to add captioning.
These are just a few of the ways our Kaplan University Writing Center makes its online tutoring services accessible to students of all abilities.