General Guidelines for Accessibility
Faculty play a key role when it comes to providing access to our students with disabilities. Faculty must maintain the confidentiality of students with disabilities and allow private meetings to discuss letters of accommodations. Although it requires some forethought, all faculty members should strive to follow the principles of Universal Design of Instruction for the benefit of all students.
- Textbooks should be purchased with accessibility in mind. Choose those that are available in electronic format as well as in print. Students with blindness, low vision, dyslexia, those with many types of learning disabilities or traumatic brain injuries may not be able to utilize printed material.
- Textbook choices should be publicly listed at least four weeks before class starts. Even electronic books may not be fully accessible from the publisher and may require extensive editing before they are ready for student use. Students with disabilities must have equivalent access to these textbooks when class starts.
- All handouts and learning packets must be available in an accessible electronic format.
- Videos must be captioned accurately. (Auto-generated captions in YouTube generally do not meet acceptable standards for accuracy.)
- Audio only material must be accompanied by a transcript for deaf and hard of hearing students.
- Third party websites need to be fully accessible. If you refer students to other websites, learning environments, online labs, or digital teaching tools, faculty are responsible for making sure they are accessible to all students. If they are not accessible, you will be called upon to provide an equally efficient method for students with disabilities to obtain this information.
- When using clickers, smart boards, tablets, or other technology, be aware they must be accessible to all students. Those with dexterity or coordination issues as well as blind students may have barriers to overcome. If you are unsure, ask the student privately to try out the technology in question.
- If you are in a larger classroom that has a microphone, use it. Don’t assume anyone will speak up if you simply announce “can everyone hear me without the mic?” The learning experience will be better for all your students if they can hear you well.
- Build some flexibility into your course to allow for make-up test dates and some absenteeism.
- Allow students to record your class or take notes using a keyboard.
- Allow flexibility with in-class quizzes to accommodate students who may need additional time.
- Some in-class writing assignments may need to be done outside of class for students with a disability related to writing or processing.
- Some students may require seating in the front of the class, need space in the back of the class, require a service dog, use a large motorized wheelchair, require a sign language interpreter, or any number of variations to accommodate their disabilities.
Accessibility of Supported Technologies
Creating Accessible Materials
- Creating Accessible Documents – Tip sheet and instructions for creating accessible Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, and PDF files.
- Cheat sheets – From the National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE), one-page accessibility resources developed to assist anyone who is creating accessible content, including Microsoft Office products, Adobe products, web content, and YouTube videos.
- Closed Captioning
- Making your own captions on YouTube is not difficult; all you need is a YouTube account, some videos uploaded to it, and some free time. Several approaches are described on the CU-Boulder DIY YouTube Captions page.
- If a student registered with Disability Services makes a captioning accommodation request for audiovisual media in your course, you must arrange for captioning within five days after you receive the accommodation request; after that, any audiovisual media used for your class must have captions available when it is first shown or made available to the students. Please contact Disability Services to arrange for captioning. Please keep in mind that after receiving your content it may take up to five business days for it to be captioned and made available to you.
- Creating Accessible Exams in Canvas – Checklist for creating accessible questions in quizzes and exams in Canvas.
Universally Designed Syllabus Resources
In order to aid instructors in creating syllabi that are not only accessible, but also designed to be easily understood by all users, University of Colorado Boulder has created universally designed syllabus resources. These resources are available via the Universally Designed Syllabus Materials page.
Web Content Accessibility
- WebAIM – Articles on HTML accessibility, media accessibility, evaluation and testing tools, etc.
- How to Meet WCAG 2.0 – A customizable quick reference to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 requirements (success criteria) and techniques provided by W3C.
- ADA Guidance for Higher Education
- Applications of Universal Design in Postsecondary Education
- Inside Higher Ed: Online Accessibility a Faculty Duty
- Universal Design for Instruction
Accessibility Resources at Other Institutions
While we continue to develop documentation and tutorials on creating accessible content, we recommend you take a look at other institutions that excel in the area of accessibility.
- University of Colorado Boulder
- Temple University
- University of Washington
- North Carolina State
- University of Montana
- University of California, Berkeley
Last updated January 12, 2020