Course Accessibility & Timeline

There are a number of factors to consider when approving and implementing a student’s accommodations; from the specific barriers they experience, to their own learning strengths, Accessibility Counselors work closely with students to determine the accommodations that might make the most sense for them. However, the insight you bring is just as important to this conversation. Your partnership in our common goal of ensuring students have the opportunity to learn is valuable and we hope that the information on this page will help you to understand a bit more about implementing accommodations and the steps you can take to create a more inclusive and accessible classroom.   

The Office of Faculty Development's website features a great breakdown of accessibility principles and best practices. We encourage you to use it as a resource as you design your course(s). Below is a list of common aspects of instructing students with disabilities in different modalities, which features some snippets from the Office of Faculty Development website on the Accessible Technology Initiative and Accessibility Principles & Best Practices. As always, should you have any questions or concerns about the use of a student’s accommodation(s), please reach out to the accessibility counselor whose name and email address appear at the bottom of their Determination of Accommodations letter.

Textbook Adoption

Textbook Adoption is the first accommodation-related factor that pertains to your course's accessibility. The remediation of textbooks and course materials can take 4-6 weeks depending on the book, publisher, and initial accessibility of the material. Timely adoption of your Textbook provides students and ITS Accessible Media the time needed to ensure that students are able to begin the semester with accessible material. The deadlines for textbook adoption are below:

Summer & Fall Deadline: Mid-March

Winter & Spring Deadline: Mid-October

Delays in Textbook Adoption may result in delays in accessible materials being distributed to students. You may be requested to provide flexibility regarding assignments, quizzes, and exam dates to account for these delays.


Priority Registration

Priority registration is provided for students who are approved for accommodations that require more time to implement or for students who require additional control over their schedule in order to adequately manage their disability. Accommodations that require time to implement are:

- Sign language interpreting

- Real time and/or closed captioning

- Accessible textbooks and course materials

Students with these accommodations are encouraged to submit semester requests as soon as they have finalized their schedule for the coming semester in order to prevent delays.


Regular Registration

It is during this time that students who do not have priority registration will register for the upcoming term's courses. As they do, they submit requests to our Student Portal for accommodations such as Course Notes and Accessible Furniture.


Classroom Scheduling

Although the scheduling of classrooms occurs before the Course Schedule becomes live, it is during registration that students may begin to request that one or more of their classrooms be moved due to physical barriers. The Academic Resources & Planning office will work with the appropriate parties regarding this.


First Day of Courses

Students who have already connected with our office are encouraged to notify their instructors about their accommodations at the beginning of the term. Most accommodations are straightforward (e.g. extended time on exams, audio recording of lecture) and require little or no action on the instructors part. However, if you are new to CSU East Bay, student accommodations in general, or have any questions/concerns, you should reach out to the accessibility counselor whose name and email address are at the bottom of the Determination of Accommodations Letter.

Your course syllabus should have a statement such as the following:

"If you are a student with a disability or believe you might have a disability that requires accommodations, please see me as soon as possible during office hours."

This approach preserves students’ privacy and also indicates your willingness to provide accommodations as needed.

Lastly, certain accommodations such as Memory Aid and Extension of Assignment Due Dates may warrant a meeting with a student and their accessibility counselor as soon as possible after the student has shared their Determination of Accommodations Letter. We refer to these accommodations as “Agreement Accommodations” because they require that a conversation and agreement be established prior to implementation.

sample-determination-of-accommodations.png


During the Term

While students are encouraged to notify their instructors about accommodations at the beginning of the semester there are a number of reasons you might not receive this information until partway through the semester: 

  • Students might be busy or overwhelmed in their first week of the semester. This is especially true for our incoming 1st year students.
  • Students may wish to get into the class and attend a few lectures before disclosing to their instructors. This is especially true for students who have experienced stigma about their disability.
  • Students may not be aware that they have a disability or that they are able to receive support in their classes until partway through the semester.

It is important to note that accommodations are not retroactive and you are not obligated to apply a student’s accommodations to work, exams, or attendance prior to the date the student discloses their need for accommodations.

Many accommodations will continue to be coordinated throughout the semester, but most are facilitated by Accessibility Services and ITS Accessible Media. However, Accessible Testing requires regular engagement from the instructor to ensure we are able to administer exams appropriately. For students, the first step of this process, once they have notified you about their accommodations, is to submit their accessible testing requests to our office. Students are expected to submit requests 1 week before the scheduled exam date, though we do encourage them to submit all of their exam requests at the start of the term. Once a request is received from a student, our Accessible Testing Office will reach out to you to request the testing conditions, the exam itself, and to gather other pertinent information about how best to administer your exam. Responding to emails from our Accessible Testing Office as soon as possible after receiving them is important for ensuring that we have adequate time to make arrangements.

The following are the two most common accommodations that can impact a student’s ability to access your classroom and lecture. While neither relies on instructors for initial implementation, there are a few things you can do to help ensure that the student is able to utilize these accommodations effectively throughout the semester.

Accessible Furniture

Accessible furniture is initiated by the student using our Accommodate portal request system. Once this is requested, Accessible Services will then work with Facilities Management (and the Academic Scheduling Office) to place their accessible furniture before the beginning of the term. Every piece of Accessible Furniture is labeled with the student's initials, term of use, type of furniture, and day(s)/time(s) it will be used by the student: 

accessible-furniture-label.png

There are few things we encourage you to do to help ensure that a student is able to access your class:

  • Discuss the furniture placement/reservation with the student so that you can check at the start of each class to determine if the furniture is where it belongs.
  • If it is necessary to move this furniture, like in the case of group work that you or another class might have, it is important to ensure that it is moved back to its intended location. 
  • If the furniture is frequently moved or absent, please notify our furniture coordinator at furniture@csueastbay.edu.

Audio Recording of Courses

 Audio Recording of Courses will often be paired with the Course Notes accommodation so the audio recording can be sent to Note Taking Express so their professional notetakers can listen to, and create course notes based on, that recording. The student will need to show you their Determination of Accommodations letter before they can start to audio record your class meetings.

There are few things we encourage you to do to help ensure that a student is able to access your class:

  • Use a microphone during lecture to help amplify and clarify your voice during lecture.
  • If you are lecturing to a large class, consider consulting with the student to help them identify a seat in the classroom that allows them to capture the best quality recording.
  • Consider recording your class and making these recordings available to all students. The ability to refer back to lecture content improves the learning for all students in your course. To learn how to record video in Zoom, instructors can go to this website.

From the ability to learn and test in any environment to the ease of applying extended time for exams, online courses remove many barriers for students and are, in many ways, inherently accessible. However, there are also a number of factors to take into consideration when designing an accessible online course.

Website Accessibility

While the online environment can be more accessible to students in some respects, there are a surprising number of websites that are not designed with accessibility in mind. These can create substantial barriers for students utilizing assistive technology. As you design your course, please refer to the CSU's ATI website for information regarding the use of third party online resources.


Captions

While automatic captioning through Zoom, PPT, or Google Slides may not be accurate enough to meet the needs of a student who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing, using this feature during your lectures can improve the learning experience for many students. For example, students who process visual information more efficiently than auditory information, students attending lecture from a public location, and students who are have difficulty typing or writing notes as quickly, can all benefit from the use of captioning and the availability of transcripts.

Additionally, as you are designing your course, if you intend to use videos to supplement your lecture, we encourage you to choose videos that have captions embedded, or that are on a platform that can generate automatic captioning.


Accessible Testing

While online exams remove many barriers such as access to an accessible testing environment and the ability to use assistive technology, one barrier that may still exist is the time allowed to complete the assessment. Below are instructions on extending the time available for a student.

  1. Navigate to where the test will be deployed
  2. Select from the drop down menu next to the test name "Edit the Test Options"
  3. Find "Test Availability Exceptions", then select "Add User or Group"
  4. Choose the student's name and select “Submit.”
  5. Check the timer field and change the time to comply with the student's accommodation. (Time conversion table link)
  6. Select “Submit”

For other accommodations that may need more in-depth preparation (such as use of a reader/scribe or Memory Aids), please contact the student's accessibility counselor (whose name and email address are found at the bottom of the Determination of Accommodations letter).


Audio Recording of Courses

 In an online course, the accommodation for Audio Recording of Courses may not be necessary, as you may be recording your lectures already. However, this accommodation is often paired with the Course Notes accommodation so the audio recording can be sent to Note Taking Express. Their professional notetakers can listen to the audio recording and create course notes based on that recording. If you do not provide recordings of your lecture to the whole class, the student will need to show you their Determination of Accommodations letter before they can start to audio record your class meetings.

Syllabus

Place a statement in your syllabus and make an announcement at the first meeting of the class informing students of our office and encouraging them to speak with you about their accommodations. In order to preserve students privacy, we recommend encouraging students to schedule an appointment with you. Sample statements:

  • “If you are a student with a disability or believe you might have a disability that requires accommodations, please email me to arrange a meeting.”
  • “If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations please contact me as soon as possible. If you believe you may have a disability that requires accommodations, please speak with the Accessibility Services. Accessibility Services (csueastbay.edu)
  • “It is my goal to ensure all students in my class have an opportunity to engage, learn, and benefit from my course. If you require accommodations in order to do this, please contact me as soon as possible. If you have not already registered with Accessibility Services, I encourage you to contact them to arrange a meeting. Accessibility Services (csueastbay.edu)

Other considerations to make with the syllabus and accessibility:

  • We recommend reminding students that accommodations are not retroactive and that you hope students will reach out as soon as possible about implementing accommodations. 
  • Students with disabilities may need additional time to process and complete course learning objectives. We encourage you to convey expectations in the syllabus (ie. grading, material to be covered, due dates) whenever possible, as this will allow students to prepare and manage their accommodations more effectively.
  • Announce both the reading list and reading assignments in the syllabus well in advance for the benefit of students using accessible formats. Converting an entire book or an inaccessible scanned document into an accessible format can take up to six weeks. Providing a schedule of reading assignments will also allow ITS Accessible Media to provide the materials in installments and will reduce potential delays for students who require accessible formats.

Textbook

Adopt textbooks either one or two semesters beforehand. Make a list of required texts available by request to students as soon as registration begins. This allows time for students to obtain materials in accessible formats, request conversion of these materials if needed, and to begin reading assignments as soon as possible.


Accessible Materials

Your instructional materials should be accessible to all students in accordance with the Assistive Technology Initiative (ATI). Much of the instructional materials that instructors currently utilize is already accessible, however there are still several things to consider when choose material for your course. Please refer to the CSU's ATI website for a more in-depth explanation regarding which materials are, and are not, accessible, and how to convert the ones that are not.

Please click here to request captioning for your instructional materials via Service Now


Course Design

In the process of designing a course, there are several strategies you can utilize to benefit not only students with disabilities enrolled in your course, but in fact all students. Below are questions to ask and steps to consider while designing a course to optimize learning:

  • Articulate your goals for student learning in the course: In general, overarching terms, what do I want my students to learn?
  • What, specifically, will my students know, be able to do, and/or value as a result of this course? These are your Student Learning Outcomes.
  • What will I ask my students to do in order to demonstrate what they have learned? Can I design multiple methods/styles for course assessments which would give every student an equitable opportunity to demonstrate their learning? These are your assessment methods.
  • What methods will I use to aid students in meeting my Student Learning Outcomes? Are there multiple methods that I could use, and which ones make sense for my teaching style and anticipated students? Am I able to build in options, choices, or flexibility so that students are able to leverage their strengths as a student to meet the learning objectives I’ve identified? These are the content, activities, and timelines that structure your course and which will prepare students for the assessment methods you’ve chosen.

Methods of Instruction

  • Begin class with a review of the previous lecture and an overview of topics to be covered that day. At the conclusion of the lecture, summarize key points.
  • Highlight major concepts and terminology both orally and visually. Be alert for opportunities to provide information in more than one sensory mode.
  • Emphasize main ideas and key concepts during lecture and highlight them on the blackboard or overhead.
  • Speak directly to students; use gestures and natural expressions to convey further meaning.
  • Diminish or eliminate auditory and visual distractions.
  • Present new or technical vocabulary on the blackboard or overhead, or use a handout.
  • Use visual aides such as diagrams, charts, and graphs; use color to enhance the message.
  • Give assignments both orally and in written form and be available for clarification.
  • Provide adequate opportunities for participation, questions and/or discussion.
  • Provide timelines for long-range assignments.
  • Use sequential steps for long-range assignments; for example, a lengthy paper:
    • Select a topic
    • Write an outline
    • Submit a rough draft
    • Make necessary corrections with approval
    • Turn in a final draft
  • Give feedback on early drafts of papers so there is adequate time for clarification, rewrites, and refinements.
  • Provide study questions and review sessions to aid in mastering material and preparing for exams.
  • Give sample test questions; explain what constitutes a good answer and why.
  • To test knowledge of material rather than test-taking savvy, phrase test items clearly. Be concise and avoid double negatives.
  • Facilitate the formation of study groups for students who wish to participate.
  • Encourage students to seek assistance during your office hours and to use campus support services (SCAA, etc.).

Etiquette

Below are some etiquette tips for when you are working with students with disabilities:

  • Involve people with disabilities in decision making. They are the best judge of what they can or cannot do.
  • Relax and ask questions when you're unsure of what to do.
  • Be open-minded. Some disabilities are hidden or invisible. Don't make assumptions about the person or the disability.
  • Ask before you offer assistance to someone and wait for their instructions.
  • When talking with a person with a sign language interpreter or other support provider, address the person directly.
  • Do not pet or interact with a service animal. Service animals are working. Petting or interacting with them distracts the animal and interferes with their duties.
  • Be considerate of the extra time it might take a person with a disability to respond to a question or get things done. Don't talk for the person who has difficulty speaking, but give help when needed.
  • Use person-first language, such as "people with disabilities" or an "individual with autism". Avoid terms such as "handicapped" or "special needs".

Additional source: John Hopkins University