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Accessibility: Creating a Culture of Outreach: Faculty & Staff

Building a Proactive Approach to Course Accessibility

hands holding a piece of paper with the text, "Course Accessibility."

Providing accessibility for students is something that can be done regardless of disability and is best practice when designing a course. It's possible to begin making all documents, Powerpoints, and more accessible to all students now--then when you import a course to the next semester, all of those changes will remain. Use this page for tips and tools as well as information on the process for receiving accommodations.

Your Role in Student Accommodations

The word, "Enrollment" followed by a map start to finish line and pin followed by the word, "Graduation."

Student Accommodations: Enrollment to Graduation

  • Students will meet with **Disability Services (insert name of your accessibility department) to document their disability.
  • The **Disability Services (insert name of your accessibility department) will be the entity to decide any and all accommodations.
    • Frequently used accommodations:
      • extended time for tests
      • quiet area for testing
      • accessible texts (audiobooks/text-to-speech)
      • record lectures
      • note-takers or note-taking apps
      • computer or tablet allowed in class for note-taking
  • Students will be given a letter of accommodation that they will bring to you--at this point, all accommodations legally will need to be provided.
  • Faculty are required to respect students' privacy and work with students individually.
    • Faculty are not allowed to ask students about their disabilities unless the student discloses it.
  • Please contact **Disability Services (insert name of your accessibility department) with any questions.
    • INSERT CONTACT INFO HERE
  • Services offered: (**CHANGE AS NEEDED)
    • tutoring
    • student alert meetings
    • accessible texts
    • scanning

Faculty Testimonies

The following faculty testimonies illustrate the importance and ease in which accessibility can be integrated in any course.

"A student in my COMM class needed to have all zoom sessions, videos and presentations captioned because of a hearing loss. After I was informed of this student's situation, disability services approached me about using "Otter" as a tool through which my student could have all of this captioning available live. I was thrilled to know such a tool existed. They helped me to set up Otter, so that every time we had a zoom session everything was captioned. Once Otter was set up before the class even met, the class proceeded smoothly for the student and for me as the professor. I could relax, knowing the needs of the student were met and that I had this amazing tool which made class easier for my student and myself. They also assisted by captioning several videos I required students to watch. I am so grateful for their assistance in preparing this course for one particular student's needs!" -- Taken from Goshen College (Indiana)

Student Testimonies

The following student testimonies illustrate the need for accessibility in all courses.

"I have found many of my electronic readings to be poorly tagged in .pdf files that a text to speech screen-reading program cannot decipher. Instead of having access equal to that of my peers to course readings, the disability student services office has to convert the documents into text files and I have to wait to have access to the materials. This system is inefficient and it leaves me at a disadvantage to my classmates. This is one of many examples of access barriers I have encountered due to inaccessible technology. And stories like mine are all too common among blind college and graduate students. Why are blind students not receiving equal access to all aspects of education? It isn’t because accessibility is difficult or expensive to achieve. And it isn’t because universities are maliciously discriminating against blind students. It is simply because schools, for the most part, don’t really understand what accessibility looks like. And, therefore, the schools do not know what accessibility features to demand from those who create the technologies they purchase and use." — Sean, Massachusetts (Taken from the National Federation of the Blind)

"I didn’t even take my math placement exam because it was not accessible, so I was forced to start with college algebra rather than potentially calculus. Therefore, majors with more than that as a requirement for me went right out of the window because I could not conceive success without braille or accessible web tools that described the content." — Cindy, Washington (Taken from the National Federation of the Blind)

Ways to Promote Equity

Promoting Equity

  • Use the Library Guide (**INSERT LINK TO THIS GUIDE: can use PALNI templateon Accessibility to ensure all digital materials are accessible
  • Use the "Accessibility Checker" for all Microsoft and Google documents/powerpoints/excel spreadsheets
  • Make sure all PDFs are accessible (if you can highlight the words in a PDF, likely it's accessible)
  • Supplemental web-based applications such as conferencing systems and anti-plagiarism software should also be accessible to all students
  • Provide live captioning for conferencing platforms (i.e. Google Meet, Zoom)
  • Courses should include a link to the campus office for disability--typically within the syllabus or could be posted to the course page in your LMS
  • Create an accessible PDF of your syllabus to post to your LMS
  • Create a video going over your syllabus (with captions) to post to your LMS
  • Course sites and outside course websites should be inclusively developed and maintained in conformance with the most recent Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
    • The WCAG guidelines are based on the principles that content and controls should be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust enough to function with a variety of assistive technologies.
  • When links to external Web sites are provided to students within an online course, the portion of those external sites intended for student viewing should be reviewed for conformance with the guidelines listed above.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

A lightbulb inside an icon of a head next to the text, "Universal Design for Learning."

*Click on each tab for collapsible content

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn.

The three core principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) are easy to implement strategies. Using these strategies each time you develop course materials is a proactive way to address accommodation needs of students, make your materials more accessible to all students and reduce the need to retroactively adapt your materials should you have a request from SDS (Student Disability Services) to do so. The principles are:

  • The What: Represent information in multiple ways. Provide students with different ways to acquire information or knowledge. This may include multiple modalities to represent information or flexible formats that allow students to enlarge text or access captions.
     
  • The How: Give students options to demonstrate they have met learning outcomes. This may include allowing the use of different media and communication tools, designing assignments that provide choices for action or expression, and providing alternatives that accommodate the use of adaptive technologies, such as screen readers or adapted keyboards.
     
  • The Why: Offer multiple aproaches for student engagement. This includes providing choices, making information relevant and relatable to a variety of learners. To review more detailed examples and resources visit the CAST website UDL page.

     

 

  • UDL and Accessibility are different: neither are self-sufficient, but they interact to create a robust and well-designed course.
     
  • UDL provides multiple means of representation, demonstration, and engagement. But if those multiple means are not accessible to all learners, then UDL has not been accomplished.
     
  • Likewise, making a single activity fully accessible does not accomplish UDL.

     

From the Centre for Teaching and Learning from Durham College

 

  • UDL is different from an accommodation: think of it as a "preventative" approach to accessibility and learning.
     
  • What might be helpful for one student may not necessarily be as helpful for another student.
     
  • Ask students what they need/how they learn.
     
  • Give different assignment options for one learning objective, but make sure all types of assignments are accessible.
     
  • Check out this website for more tips.

     

Campus Policies

A document icon next to the text, "Campus Policies."

  • Disability Statement

**INSERT YOUR COURSE DISABILITY STATEMENT TEMPLATE HERE

Campus Contact Information

Telephone icon followed by the text, "Campus Contact Information."

**INSERT INSTITUTION SPECIFIC NAMES AND TITLES