The Office of AccessAbility Services (AAS) is pleased to have you as a Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) faculty and/or staff member. Please review our WCSU AccessAbility Services Faculty & Staff Guide for comprehensive information. AAS works individually with all students who have self-identified to AAS and have a documented disability to determine appropriate accommodations based on their particular needs. Accommodations are designed to level the playing field for students with disabilities while maintaining the integrity and standards of our academic programs. During the fall and spring semesters, AAS serves more than 400 students with various disabilities, including but not limited to, students with learning disabilities, visual impairments, hearing impairments, psychiatric/psychological impairments, physical impairments, and other health-related impairments.
Achieving full participation and integration of students with disabilities requires the cooperative efforts of all departments, their faculty and staff, and AAS at WCSU. As a WCSU faculty and/or staff member, you play a vital role in promoting access for students with disabilities.
The information available on this website is intended to provide more in-depth information in working with AAS and students with disabilities. AAS staff members are always available for consultation to answer questions, discuss concerns, or conduct presentations on disability related topics. Our office is located in White Hall, Room 005. We are available in person, by email (email@example.com), and by telephone at (203) 837-8225 (203-837-3235 TTY).
Academic Continuity – AccessAbility Services Update
In light of the announcement to transition to increased online classes, AccessAbility Services realizes the challenges this may create for accommodating students with disabilities. AccessAbility Services asks faculty to be mindful of the accommodations of their students and incorporate those accommodations into the online format of their class. Please keep the following in mind:
All Student Accommodations Remain In Effect
- Regardless of course format or platform, under federal law, all students with disabilities must have equal access to their courses.
- If you have questions regarding how an accommodation would apply in the online setting, please contact your Accessibility/Disability Service Office and provide the best way to contact you. A staff person will then contact you to discuss.
- US Department of Education – Office of Civil Rights COVID-19 Fact Sheet
Faculty Responsibilities with Regards to ADA/504
- Under federal law, faculty are responsible for making their courses and course content accessible. Please see tips below for assistance on creating accessible content.
- Faculty should continue to regularly communicate with all students to ensure that they have access to the materials and inquire if any students have concerns regarding how material is being presented.
Accessibility Tips for Online Teaching
- One of the most heavily approved accommodation is extended time on quizzes and/or exams. AccessAbility Services will not be open to accommodate in-person exams during this remote period. Faculty members must extend timing online to accommodate students with accommodations. To add additional time, please review: Test Availability Exceptions.
- Additional resources on how to create accessible material can be found on our accessibility resources
- Use the Accessibility Checker within MS Word and PowerPoint to produce accessible documents. To do this, go to File – Check for Issues – Check Accessibility.
- Use text description on all images, high contrasting colors, uncluttered slides, bold font, plain backgrounds, especially within the Blackboard text editor. For additional information, visit Getting Started with Alt Text.
- Utilize the Blackboard Ally accessibility tools for checking your content and providing alternate formats for your students.
- Blackboard Ally has a “meter icon” noting the level of accessibility. The goal is to have all green icons. Documents that are not accessible will have a red meter and an “A” with a downward arrow will be at the far left.
- To remediate the document, click the downward arrow for an alternative document. Please keep in mind that it may not be possible to remediate all documents.
- Please be mindful of accessibility when selecting documents.
- Check in frequently with all students on barriers and challenges
- Guidelines and tips for making web content accessible:
Be aware of how your students have responded to technology use in the classroom so far as you plan for online strategies.
- Are all students able to engage equally in all platforms?
- Do you have a student who has been unable to perform current assignments due to limitations in ability to work with technology?
- Do you have students in your class with visual, hearing, mobility issues, public speaking anxiety, time management issues that might limit use of specific platforms that you are considering?