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Is my language course ableist? Identifying tension between language learning course design and fairness for disabled learners

Thursday, October 22, 2020


Improving the accessibility of disabled learners’ learning environments goes far beyond using accessibility checkers to make sure documents and materials are minimally accessible. In this session we will discuss reflective questions instructors should be asking ourselves and explore possible solutions: Are there common language learning outcomes that inherently erect barriers for disabled learners? What can we do about that? Do your favorite go-to tasks and activities ensure equitable participation for all learners? How can we evaluate the accessible participatory potential for activities? Additionally, there are important accessibility concerns that are complicated to navigate in language learning specifically: what language should we use for captions on video content? What language should we use when adding descriptive alternative text (“alt text”) to images? Please bring your own questions and share some solutions that have worked for learners in your teaching context.

About the Discussant:

Caitlin Cornell, Assistant Director of the Center for Language Teaching Advancement, Michigan State University, is also a Ph.D. student in MSU’s Second Language Studies Program. She has an M.A. in Linguistics with a specialization in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Her research interests revolve around accessible teaching and learning, particularly within second/foreign language learning contexts, including equity and fairness in language learning environments and assessments. She has taught English language courses for more than a decade both in the U.S. and abroad. She completed two U.S. State Department English Language Fellowships in Beirut, Lebanon. She has also taught undergraduate language teaching methodology courses and designed and taught a course on Race, Language, and Disability in the spring of 2020.