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Barrier-free digital teaching - information for instructors

Dear TU Berlin instructors,

Online teaching is a very valuable supplemental format for students and I welcome all efforts in this area. As the representative of students with disabilities and chronic illnesses and in consultation with the Family Service Office and International Student Counseling, I ask you as instructors to continue to observe students’ individual situations during this extraordinary situation.

By considering just a few things when implementing your digital courses, you can ensure all our students have an equal opportunity to participate. In the list below you will find important organizational and technical information, which I kindly ask you to implement.

1. Quality of recordings

Please ensure, as far as possible, that your lecture recordings are of good audio and picture quality without a disruptive background. Avoid distracting backgrounds (e.g. movement in the background, loud patterns or bold colors, flickering or glaring light sources, and disruptive sounds such as background music, static and sounds from nature/birds chirping).

2. Barrier-free teaching content

Please provide students with a written copy of any information addressed in the recorded lectures. Possible formats include transcripts, lecture notes, a written “chalkboard” recording, presentation slides, graphics, diagrams, and tables in good resolution. Many students depend on these resources as they are unable to simultaneously listen and take notes, are unable to understand all speech due to acoustics, and/or can only see content under high magnification.

It is particularly important that any written resources are barrier-free. By following the tips below, you help visually-impaired students and others read and, where necessary, magnify text:

  • Content must be presented with high contrast: Black text against a white background is optimal. Please use a sans serif font such as Calibri, Verdana or Arial. Additionally, avoid writing entire words or lines in CAPITAL LETTERS and/or in italics.
  • Design your presentations as clearly as possible, so that the reader can maintain an overview even when the screen view is enlarged.
  • Use language that is as understandable as possible with simple words and short sentences. You can find a 15-point checklist in German at Leitfaden für Verständliche Sprache.
  • Outline your document using headings. Use the formatting tools for outlines as well as those for creating tables and lists available in Word, so that these can be read by speech output programs.
  • Below you can find further tips, instructions, and tools for digital barrier-free accessibility.

The measures listed are necessary for visually and hearing-impaired students. However, they are helpful for all students.

3. Availability

Please leave resources (recorded lectures and lecture notes) online until at least examinations and repeat examinations have taken place. Clearly name your video, audio, and other files as well as links. Make sure that these files are compatible with all operating systems (Linux, Windows, iOS) where possible.

4. Availability for questions

Clearly communicate when and how you can be contacted if students have questions about your courses and materials. This is important and helpful for all students.

5. Academic Adjustment

Please note that students continue to be entitled to their approved form of academic adjustment to modify their study and exam conditions. Clarify with students early on how academic adjustment is to be individually implemented, particularly for examinations.

6. Modifying “active” participation and study/exam performance

If you are holding courses with web conferencing and other formats requiring attendance, please offer alternative options for participating (e.g. meeting recordings) and completing coursework to the following:

    • Students with children and care responsibilities, who are unable to participate in the course at this time due to insufficient supervision.
    • Students with disabilities and chronic illness who have approved academic adjustment from the examination board

As this situation remains new and unknown to us all, I will have undoubtedly overlooked many cases and situations students face. If you have questions about this information, implementing digital teaching formats, or academic adjustment, please contact me, Janin Dziamski. Thank you very much for your support and commitment thus far! Janin Dziamski Representative for Students with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses Katja Müller Family Services Office Dr. Fred Mengering International Student Counseling Below you can find additional tips, instructions, and tools for digital accessibility in German:

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