AccessAbility Services : Faculty and Staff Resources

Course Accessibility

Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) is committed to ensuring equal access to information, programs, and activities through its information technologies, webpages, web-based applications, and digital instructional content. Therefore, digital information, websites, technology, coursework and email need to be accessible by all in an understandable way. This is in accordance with federal and state laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and the Amendments Act of 2008, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act as amended and the State of Connecticut’s Universal Website Accessibility Policy for State Websites.

Accessibility of online, hybrid, or face-to-face courses is essential to ensuring a quality learning experience for all learners. Without keeping accessibility in mind, we may inadvertently create inaccessible material. Accessibility of course content is a communal responsibility which allows equal access and full participation for all learners. Faculty members are encouraged to use the Accessibility Checklist to review the accessibility of their courses. If material is found to be inaccessible, faculty members can review the resources within Creating Accessible Course Material. Faculty members are also encouraged to review the CSCU Accessibility Checklist for Courses

    • Faculty members should also incorporate the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into their courses in order to promote accessibility. UDL within the realm of education generally refers to designing educational content and environments in a way that makes them useful to all people, regardless of individual characteristics such as gender, race or ethnicity, age, stature, or existing disabilities. UDL evolved from Accessible Design, a design process that addresses the needs of people with disabilities. UDL goes further by recognizing that there is a wide spectrum of human abilities, and by designing with diversity in mind, we can create things and places (either real or virtual) that will be easier for all people to use.

UDL is a researched-based design to a course which allows for flexibility to meet the wide variety of learning needs within the classroom. UDL has three main principles for course design:

    • Multiple Means of Engagement – How many times does a student interact with the material? Are you buying in to their own interests? The “Why” of learning.
    • Multiple Means of Representation – Is your curriculum presented in a couple different ways, or only in one mode? The “What” of learning.
    • Multiple Means of Action & Expression – Is there a choice on how they present the information learned in the course back to you? The “How” of learning.

How do you incorporate UDL?

  1. Know your students’ strengths and weaknesses
  2. Use digital materials when possible
  3. Share content in a variety of ways
  4. Offer choices for how students demonstrate their knowledge
  5. Use an access statement

Sample Access Statement:

I am committed to creating a course that is inclusive in its design. If you encounter barriers, please let me know immediately through Blackboard Email or during my virtual office hours (Monday/Wednesday 2pm  – 4pm) so that we can determine if there is a design adjustment that can be made or if an accommodation might be needed to overcome the limitations of the design. I am always happy to consider creative solutions as long as they do not compromise the intent of the assessment or learning activity. You are also welcome to contact the AccessAbility Services office to begin this conversation or to establish accommodations for this or other courses. You can contact AccessAbility Services at Information regarding the accommodation process can be viewed at: AccessAbility Services. I welcome feedback that will assist me in improving the usability and experience for all students.