Creating Access

Accessibility vs. Accommodations:

Campus Accessibility Services focuses our efforts toward accessibility. This effort allows a broad continuum of users with/without disabilities to access programs, course materials, activities, and services. Individuals with varied needs may participate outright.  (i.e. No one is restricted from using curb cuts and automatic door openers, yet it meets the needs of individuals whose mobility may be affected such as a person using a wheelchair.) Alternately, accommodations are provided to address that which is inaccessible.  Accommodations generally are meant to address issues of inaccessibility for individuals with disabilities, (such accommodations may also meet the needs of others, e.g., temporary disabilities). The content that follows is intended to promote accessibility for diverse learners with or without disabilities or accommodation letters.

Accommodation letters are delivered by students and are to address classroom logistics that may affect access/performance due to a disability. These letters have no deadline but have no expectation for retroactive implementation.

Syllabus statement:

Including an accessibility services statement in your syllabus serves two important functions.

  1. It lets the students know you are aware of the accommodations process and they should feel comfortable approaching you to discuss their specific accommodation letter in detail as needed.
  2. If the student has not yet connected with CAS, this statement provides necessary information on who to contact if they feel they may need accommodations.

Provide non-textbook required reading materials in a digital format:

Why does this matter?

Reading continues to be the primary method students are expected to utilize when accessing new information and course materials in the learning environment.  Most often, these reading materials are provided in a hard copy printed format.

What is a Print Disability?

Functional definition,  “A condition related to blindness, visual impairment, specific learning disability or other physical condition in which the student needs an alternative or specialized format (i.e., Braille, Large Print, Audio, Digital text) in order to access and gain information from conventional printed materials.”  (Maine AIM Community of Practice)

Multiple forms of “READING” include:

  • “Eye reading”—scanning words on the printed page or on screen (may require magnification)
  • “Ear reading” – audio books, screen readers and text-to-speech software (video demo).
  • “Finger reading” – braille, tactile access to words on the page.

How Disability impacts the Reading Process:

  • Visual:
    • Blind– requires using a screen reader, or braille.
    • Low vision – requires magnification  and/or manipulation of fonts and display settings
    • Color blindness, Sensitivity to light –requires customization display settings
  • Physical —may not have the mobility and dexterity to handle books or manipulate pages.
  • Learning/ dyslexic/ attention–each has an impact on the rate of reading, fluency, and comprehension.

What is “digital text”?

Digital text is often referred to as “Alternate Format or e-Text”

When text is digital, the end user can control its format to meet his/her individual reading needs with a variety of assistive technologies or device settings.

Good news: There are many natively digital options available for print materials.

  • e-books (from the  library or publisher sources)
  • Full-text PDF’s from digital databases
  • Online digital journal articles

  Avoid source documents that contain any of the following:

  • Color highlighting or underlining
  • Margin notes or other handwriting
  • Folds, creases, stains on the paper
  • Previously photocopied documents

Video Content and Captioning

As more and more video is integrated into the educational environment, our accessibility compliance obligation requires that all video/audio content include captions and/or a transcript if there is a student with hearing loss in the course.

Video Captions also benefit students without disabilities.  

  1. For non-native English-speaking students, providing captions will improve comprehension of your lecture videos.
  2. For Instructors with English as a secondary language, providing captions will help improve student comprehension.
  3. Captions help your students understand, spell, and properly pronounce discipline-specific terminology.
  4. Captions provide better cognitive reinforcement.  Some students learn better while they read.
  5. Captions can make your lecture content searchable using keywords, via the Media Gallery.
  6. Captions allow videos to be viewed with the sound off in places like the library.

Captioning Videos with Kaltura

Instructions on how to caption videos

For more information on how to caption videos please contact the Client Services and Academic Technology office located in Lamson Library.