A Digital Book Based Pedagogy to Improve Course Content Accessibility for Students with and without Disabilities in Engineering or other STEMcourses (WIP)

Hongye Liu, Lawrence Angrave, Jennifer R. Amos, David Dalpiaz, Chrysafis Vogiatzis, Zhiyuan Xiao, Sujit Varadhan, Jeremy Louie

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Accessibility of course content plays a critical role in student success. Among all college students, students with disabilities (SWD) face numerous additional challenges when digital content is inaccessible or difficult to use. The main contributions of this paper are firstly we examined different course delivery modalities to identify components that engage both SWD and students without disabilities (SWOD) and secondly, present new accessibility features for digital book creation that were implemented at the University of Illinois. An equitable, inclusive design for everyone is our ultimate goal, but we also wanted to understand the needs, and preferences of, SWDs in particular. A national survey instrument by the Collegiate Student Assessment of Textbooks (CSAT) to study student preferences was adapted and supplemented with questions that allowed students to optionally identify as SWD with a physical, mental and/or emotional disability. This survey enabled an analysis of the textbook preferences for engineering students with and without disabilities. Results from 50 SWD and 48 SWOD indicated that SWD and SWODs prioritized similar features. The main significant difference between SWD and SWOD were in the responses about how the instructor used the textbook and the importance of graphs in the textbook. The SWDs cared strongly about the accessibility features of a textbook. The top-five desired-features among all students were: 1) The book is low-cost or free, 2) There is a search feature for the book, 3) The book is up to date, 4) The examples used in the book matched the definitions, 5) The examples used in the book are relevant. Faculty were also surveyed using the same questions, providing insight into areas of alignment in preferences between students and faculty. Data from 10 faculty revealed similar textbook preferences: 1) The book is up to date, 2) Examples are representative of the definitions provided, 3) The book is low-cost or free, 4) The book is available online and as print copy, 5) The examples are relevant. Among the textbook features, all students were least interested in being called on during class with questions from the book. Additionally, SWDs did not value features pertaining to how the instructor used the textbook. By understanding the needs of SWD and SWOD, a faculty member can be informed about techniques to increase content accessibility. Secondly, we identified and designed new accessibility functionalities, including a visual table of contents, accessibility tags, and conditional publishing on students and instructors with a focus on meeting the needs of SWD. Recommendations and techniques are offered for instructors wishing to develop digital books to provide more accessible content delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Aug 23 2022
Event129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'A Digital Book Based Pedagogy to Improve Course Content Accessibility for Students with and without Disabilities in Engineering or other STEMcourses (WIP)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this