New Classroom Technology Makes Learning Environments More Inclusive

OTDI’s Learning and Collaborative Environments (LCE) team is working with Student Life Disability Services (SLDS) to broaden the use of assistive technology in our classrooms.

LCE works continually to update pool classrooms to improve teaching and learning environments for all Buckeyes, including adding assistive technologies. Wheelchair ramps and adjustable podiums are an obvious way to make classrooms more accessible. However, ceiling mics are one of the most widely used additions, as they are helpful to not only students who may be remote, but also to those with hearing-based disabilities who attend classes in person.

The mics were installed to assist instructors adapting to COVID restrictions, especially those designed to enable students infected with COVID to attend classes remotely. Having some students in the classrooms and others attending remotely made it clear that it was difficult for remots learners to hear questions and comments from across the classroom and to hear instructors if they stepped away from the podium.

We have made ceiling mics a part of standard classroom set up for this reason and also because of the additional value they have for students with hearing-based disabilities. Students who require accommodations register with SLDS to receive assistance. For students with hearing-based disabilities, SLDS makes arrangements with the instructor so an transcriber can join the class via Zoom. Joining via Zoom means transcribers can be in any location and can cover more classes since they don’t have to travel to provide the services that are needed.

The ceiling mics ensure that transcribers can hear most of the interaction between students and instructors even though they are not physically in the classroom. The student attends the class in person, allowing them to gain context by being in the room with classmates, and then uses a computer or mobile device to read real-time captioning provided by the transcriber.

The new audio and camera features make the classroom experience more robust and equitable for students with hearing-based disabilities and for all remote students. Not all pool classrooms contain ceiling mics, but since we have made them a part of our standard set up when we update classrooms, an increasing number of rooms will have this technology over time. Instructors who would like more information may contact the LCE team at