What is Accessibility?
Students all learn in different ways: some of these differences are obvious, while others are more subtle. However, this seemingly simple truth is surprisingly difficult to internalize in practice. Most learning experiences are designed with only one kind of learning in mind, and thus optimized for only one kind of learner. For instance, if a teacher or tutor consistently uses only verbal models to explain concepts, students who learn best from those models will excel — while their classmates who learn best from visual representations of concepts will struggle. Understanding that this difference exists does not mean the tutor should abandon verbal models, but the tutor should intentionally incorporate visuals too in order to support more students in reaching their goals. Taking accessibility into account means tailoring instruction not just to some students, but to all students.
Why and how should your program collect Accessibility Data?
Achieving accessibility requires tutors to thoughtfully consider each student’s individual needs. To do so, tutors must have a thorough and accurate picture of what those needs are. By collecting data on how your students best access information, your program can help guide your tutors’ efforts to tailor instruction and make sessions more accessible to all students.
If your program’s Tutor Consistency is Consistent, then tutors can collect this data themselves in the course of their routine sessions with the same students. If not, then your program should prioritize investing in centralized systems for student academic data collection and analysis to inform curriculum design and tutor training. These systems can also help you match students with tutors whose instructional styles and strengths suit the students’ learning styles and needs.
There are two kinds of accessibility data that tutors can leverage to understand each student’s learning styles and needs (i.e., how they perceive, interpret, and comprehend information):
- Accessibility Survey Data: Information about how a student thinks and experiences learning can be gathered atherthrough standard surveys. These data can provide tutors a clearer picture of their students’ needs and how best to meet them.
- Check-in/Conversational Data: Information about a student’s self-reported strengths, preferences, and struggles can be gleaned through regular conversations. These kinds of conversations not only help tutors tailor sessions, but also help students feel heard and understood. This sense of empowerment helps foster strong student-tutor relationships and cultivate metacognitive skills.
The table below outlines some potential questions tutors could ask during check-in conversations.
|Tutor Questions||Possible Student Response|
|When do you feel like you’re learning the best?||
|How do you like to process, or take in information so that it stays with you? In what moments do you struggle?||
|How do you like to communicate information? Where do you struggle?||
Baseline Accessibility Checklist
This checklist serves as a tool for tutors to assess the baseline accessibility of their practice, planning and materials. In addition to the considerations below, the tutor should also consider any additional accessibility needs identified in data collected.