[Athen] Accessibility tips for foreign language faculty

Jiatyan Chen jiatyan at stanford.edu
Fri Nov 13 10:40:17 PST 2015


It seems too simple for us who already have command of a language. It had to be pointed out to me that a major part of learning a foreign language is reading and listening comprehension. And alternatives are particularly challenging when your students know next to nothing about the language and had to rely on various senses and body language in class.

For introduction courses, teachers use a lot of pictures as a 'universal language' to prompt students about the context and objects. This is particularly challenging for assessment.
E.g., If you want the student to answer the vocabulary for a "green apple", you can't use alt-text because that would be a hint. Describing the colour and the object with simpler-than-basic-vocabulary is next to impossible because the students might not yet know "unripe, vegetable, foliage" nor "round, ball, fruit, smooth skin". Alternatives suggested by our blind student is to assign them an exercise to go feel/smell/eat an apple, and test them on translation of the vocabulary they used.
E.g., Often used techniques are picture stories, which the student have to describe the objects and sequence of events by looking through 8-12 frames of a storyboard. Providing an audio description for the storyboard would be defeating the purpose of the test.

Students are tested for listening comprehension. If they can't hear, they'd need an alternatives test to show that they have a way to communicate in the foreign language. Alternatives we've explored with the language faculty are (i) giving the students advanced level written tests to balance the points they can't score for listening tests (ii) drop credits for students who are do not need to be tested on one of the senses.

Please share more assessment solutions if you do broach that topic.

Jiatyan Chen
Online Accessibility Program Manager
Office of Public Affairs
Stanford University

> On 2015 Nov 12, at 09:41, Thompson, Rachel <rsthompson2 at ua.edu> wrote:


> Hi, all.


> Our area is soon meeting with a group of faculty from the modern languages and classics department regarding ways to make their course materials more accessibility from the outset. Do you have any foreign language specific suggestions?


> Some topics we will address include discussing accessibility with publishers (and asking my team to evaluate the responses), making sure web content, PDFs, and office docs are accessible (via NCDAE cheatsheets and workshops and assistance we offer), and keeping communications lines with students open. We will also include info about working with our campus disability services team.


> Any ideas you have would e much appreciated,

> Rachel


> Dr. Rachel S. Thompson

> Director, Emerging Technology

> Center for Instructional Technology

> University of Alabama

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