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Accessibility: Creating a Culture of Outreach: Faculty & Staff
Building a Proactive Approach to 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
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)
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)
student alert meetings
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)
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
Use the Library Guide (**INSERT LINK TO THIS GUIDE: can use PALNI template) on 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
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.
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.
After a student has their disability documented, they are given a letter of accommodation that they will then need to deliver to each of their professors in order to begin receiving these accommodations. This is an example of that this letter might look like.
Campus Accessibility Statements **ADD YOUR OWN LINK
Our campus is committed to accessibility for all students.
**INSERT YOUR COURSE DISABILITY STATEMENT TEMPLATE HERE