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Media Accessibility Information, Guidelines and Research

Differentiation: Meeting the Varied Needs of Students Through Accessible Media

By Jade Cox

Heterogeneous: the word that sums up the realities of educators. Today's teachers walk into classrooms of students with multiple learning styles, intelligences, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, interests, and physical needs. Students achieve success through the inclusion of suitable supports and differentiated instruction that meets their varied needs. Differentiation is an instructional tool to mesh this heterogeneity and accessible media is essential for full participation by students who have sensory disabilities.

A baby rabbit sits with several chicks.

Differentiation is simply providing learning opportunities in a variety of ways to meet the needs of a variety of learners. It allows teachers the freedom to customize instruction for individual students while simultaneously building their skill sets and content knowledge needed to achieve in a standards-based curriculum. The instructional strategies embedded in differentiated instruction enable teachers to align content and tasks to individual students' strengths, creating a more meaningful educational experience for students. This meaningful experience exists in part due to the fact that all students (including those with sensory disabilities) have access to the curriculum and can become active participants in the learning environment.

Accessible media is essential for deaf, blind, and deaf-blind students to actively participate and engage in learning; furthermore, teachers can easily integrate described and captioned media into differentiated instruction. The inclusion of accessible media provides teachers with another opportunity to create an inclusive and supportive environment that not only promotes academic success of all students but also celebrates diversity. DCMP offers accessible media to teachers wishing to build differentiated or leveled tasks based on the individual needs of their students.

As part of our mission, we at the DCMP recognize and embrace the positive impacts that thoughtfully integrated media can have on student content mastery. Our free library loan system enables educators as well as home school parents to utilize described and captioned media titles that are curricular aligned to local, state, and national standards for Early Learners through Grade 12 across all contents. We also provide a clearinghouse of information related to educational media access and a gateway to Internet resources related to accessibility.

Differentiation focuses on success for all students. While it may seem like a daunting task for teachers with a diverse group of learners, it enables the successful inclusion of all students. By incorporating accessible media from the DCMP, teachers provide multiple approaches to content. This will result in a higher level of achievement for disabled students, and other students as well.

About the Author

Jade Cox serves as the Educational Specialist at DCMP and has eight years of experience as an educator. Please feel free to contact her at jcox@dcmp.orgregarding titles in our catalog or the media selection process.

Tags: educators

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