Accessible Multimodal Assignments

This page offers recommendations for WPAs and composition instructors, who wish to implement Universal Design principles to make multimodal assignments more accessible to a diverse range of users. However, as noted on the page about Universal Design, these principles offer only a starting point– truly accessible pedagogy requires an ongoing dialogue with all students to ensure that they can access both the educational and material resources necessary to achieve learning outcomes for composing multimodally.

Equitable use will ensure that students of diverse abilities (and students with disabilities) can complete multimodal assignments and meet the associated student learning outcomes. According to the Center for Universal Design, this means offering pathways to success that are “identical whenever possible; equivalent when not.” For multimodal assignments, this might include:

  • Avoiding normative assumptions of how long it will take students to create their multimodal compositions or to learn new technologies. In designing the unit or assignment, err on the side of offering additional time instead of a tight assignment sequence. At a minimum, offer flexible deadlines.
  • Use accessible media/media tools designed with disabled audiences in mind. This means choosing includes choosing technologies that adhere to the principles of universal design.
  • Require students to create accessible multimodal compositions, especially if the multimodal assignment sequence includes peer review and/or presentations.

Flexibility in use ensures that “design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities”;

Simple and intuitive use ensures that the “design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level”;

Perceptible information ensures that the “design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities”;

Tolerance for error works to minimize “hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions”;

Low physical effort ensures that the “design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue”; and

Size and space for approach and use ensures that the design affords “reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility”