Simple Things Faculty Members Can Do to Improve Accessibility - Teaching with Accessibility in Mind

Understand accessibility issues  

  • Common accessibility barriers
  • How barriers are accommodated
  • Accessibility versus accommodation versus assistive technology
  • How accessibility benefits everyone
  • Understand the process ARS uses to determine reasonable accommodations and how accommodations must be possible, plausible and not constitute a funadamental alteration to the intended learning experience and goals
  • Understand what a student should do to secure accommodations

When planning courses  

  • Consider how instructional goals can be met in a variety of modes  
  • Think about  how to address specific needs for accommodation (print disabilities, auditory disabilities, motor disabilities, cognitive impairments) 
  • Look for materials that provide maximum flexibility to students.
  • Include a syllabus statement about ARS and what students need to do to secure accommodations
  • Consider your approach to deadline extensions and adjustments to attendance requirements

When selecting materials  

  • Ask publishers about accessibility of their materials and services  
  • Select sources or editions which are natively accessible, if possible - you can check for the availability of textbooks in alternataive formats through AccessText -
  • Provide enough lead time to allow students to articulate their need for accessible materials and to allow for these to be commissioned
  • Provide good copies of supplemental materials  

When creating documents

  • Use Styles rather than formatting features to convey intended structure and meaning
  • Add descriptions of pictures and diagrams which explain what they are intended to display  
  • Avoid using PDF documents as much as possible  
  • Post documents as .doc or .rtf or .txt rather than PDF, if possible  
  • Create PDFs in ways that pass along structure of Word and Office documents  

If multimedia materials are used  

  • Provide transcripts for audio materials  
  • Provide transcripts and captions for videos  

When conducting a course  

  • Ask students about accessibility issues, so that any particular needs are identified early  
  • Be prepared to take rapid action to support students who need accommodations  
  • If students need accommodation, work with Accessibility Resources & Service to produce best outcomes for students  -
  • When using PowerPoints/Google Slides - use a lapel microphone and the live-captioning feature. Share the transcript aftrer class.
  • When using web-based meetings - Google Meet has an automatic captioning feature.