Invitation to Collaborate in the Are You Asking Initiative, in Sharing the Thoughts and Experiences of Learners with Disabilities in Online Education

Thanks to everyone who joined in @Jonesy’s and my Lighting Talk this morning. It was awesome to see all of your contributions to the questions.

As we didn’t really get to all of the presentation, I thought I’d share the crux of what we are doing here.

As someone who is working through my Masters with some new-to-me disabilities, I’ve learned that I have to be my own advocate and work with teachers to make sure I have what I need to be successful. This is the reality for many people with disabilities as contrary to the believe of some, there is not a magic guide to this is the solution to accessibility for this disability. Studying with a gentleman that has a similar disability to me has taught me that - what works for him, does not for me, and vice versa.

Given this and so many stories like it, as we build the Are You Asking Initiative, our goal is to interview different learners with disabilities on their experiences in online learning - challenges, successes, what works for them, what does not, how they’d like to work with their instructors, their hopes and dreams for the future online learning … etc. We will then be sharing these interviews in a vlogcast / podcast. I conducted the first interview yesterday with crime novelist Jayne Barnard, who actually dropped out of her online Masters due to a lack of accessibility and consideration of her needs. While I need to properly edit the interview, I will do a quick and dirty edit on a few sound bites that I will share in the comment section of our talk later this week -

In parallel with this, the plan is to build a series of open educational resources for educators on how to start to ask their students what they need, understanding and recognizing systemic ableism, and working with their students to make their courses more accessible.

The plan is to have the interviews as free to use and share but not open (unless the interviewee wishes it to be, and fully understands what that means), as we have a responsibility as documentarians to make sure our interviewee’s words are not taken out of context. And then the accompanying resources and materials for educators will be open.

Let us know if you’d be interested in collaborating on this. We’d love to see this grow globally and in different languages.