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: