Year in Review: Teaching for Inclusivity and Accessibility

As we close out 2023, we want to share some of our biggest achievements from the past academic year. The following is part of a series of highlights from our 2022-23 Library Year in Review. You can read the full report at LMU Digital Commons.

We intentionally integrated elements of diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism, and accessibility into information literacy instruction this year. We carefully designed search queries and in-class activities to represent a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and identities. For example, Rhetorical Arts students researched topics such as disability justice, transgender equality, criminal justice reform, food insecurity, and environmental racism during activities focused on finding sources and evaluating their credibility. In the Digital Citizenship Workshop series, students worked with case studies highlighting biased algorithm models from various domains, including hiring, recidivism, search engines, facial recognition, and college admissions. Students also engaged in role-play activities to understand the potential impacts of biased algorithms and learn about activist groups fighting for algorithmic justice.

Additionally, we made a conscious effort to include materials authored by individuals from marginalized or underrepresented communities. For example, in a history class, students critically examined and engaged with the Black Panther Party newspaper collection as a primary source to study the geopolitics of the Cold War in Africa. In a psychology class, students researched Buffalo Soldiers’ lived experiences by delving into databases such as America’s Historical Newspapers to critically engage with and discover primary sources as alternative voices to peer review.

For special collections instruction classes, we partnered with faculty to spotlight diverse cultural and community experiences through unique primary source artifacts. Students in an Abolition Feminism course, for example, viewed a newly acquired collection of zines focusing on gender, race, and sexuality. Meanwhile, faculty members in the China Studies Group (CSG) of LMU Global-Local Affairs attended a peer mentoring workshop on teaching with material culture artifacts related to China and Asian Studies.

We made digital learning objects more accessible to students with different learning preferences, abilities, and backgrounds to remove potential barriers to learning. For example, we optimized accessibility in our interactive tutorials by adding headings, alt-text, reading order, and high color contrast. Furthermore, we followed the Universal Design for Learning guidelines by providing accessible Word document versions; students can use alternate Word formats when technology or Wi-Fi issues arise, for notetaking, or listening to the material read aloud by a screen reader.

We also incorporated group activities and class discussions with respectful dialogue among peers, allowing for a range of diverse perspectives and for all students to feel valued and supported. When doing activities that pointed to social inequities and biases, we sometimes offered online anonymous spaces for students to feel more secure in expressing their opinions without fear of judgment.