Implementing an Accessible & Universally-Designed Lion Strong Strategy
During the Spring 2020 semester, the Covid-19 pandemic forced an abrupt switch to remote learning at TCNJ. As we provide both in-person and remote classroom experience in the Spring 2021 semester, please review the following information about ensuring that accessibility and flexibility are at the forefront of course design and delivery:
Background/Recap: How a Student Requests Accommodations:
The process for affiliating with ARC typically involves several steps including:
- Completing the ARC affiliation form
- Submitting supporting documentation
- Meeting with an ARC representative to discuss supports and develop an accommodation plan
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted all students differently and flexibility continues to be key for the Spring 2021 semester as we live into a hybrid in-person AND/OR remote teaching/learning experience.
To learn more about the process for connecting to TCNJ’s Accessibility Resource Center (ARC), visit Accessibility Resource Center: The College of New Jersey.
As has been the case in previous semesters, The College of New Jersey reserves the right to grant individual accommodations on an interim or emergency basis, when reasonable and appropriate. Interim accommodations are identified as short-term academic adjustments, usually lasting no more than one semester. Emergency accommodations may be granted at the discretion of ARC staff and/or faculty when an unexpected circumstance (medical emergency, pandemic etc.) interrupts a student’s ability to effectively engage in a course(s).
Make sure your Syllabus Statement is updated:
In October 2019, Disability Support Services (DSS) became the Accessibility Resource Center (ARC). Learn more about the name change here: Disability Support Services: New name, same mission | News.
In an effort to maintain consistency in messaging (and office name), faculty are encouraged to include the following course accessibility statement in their syllabus:
Course Accessibility: Students who experience barriers in this course are encouraged to contact the instructor as early in the semester as possible. The Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) is available to facilitate the removal of barriers and to ensure reasonable accommodations. For more information about ARC, please visit: https://arc.tcnj.edu/.
Universal Design and Course Accessibility — reduces need for accommodations
Independent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an educational framework for teaching and learning that offers all students, regardless of background and ability, the opportunity to be more successful in their learning environment.
Definition: What is Universal Design in Learning (UDL)?
Does UDL apply to post-secondary education?: UDL in Higher Education
Examples of UDL implementation in flex & remote course models:
- Multiple modes of assessment versus few assessments that make up a course grade in its entirety
- Posting notes and supplemental materials online ahead of class meetings and due dates
- Flexible due dates and deadlines
- Take-home assessments, assignments and projects versus timed, in-class or online assessments
- Captioning of all media shared with the class (ARC can assist with captioning needs and/or captioning can be implemented through Kaltura). Captions can also be created through YouTube or Canvas.
- Course materials offered in accessible formats which are compatible with assistive technology. (Checking PDFs for Accessibility | Accessible Technology from TCNJ’s Office of Instructional Design).
- Offering options for course completion plans (i.e., Option A: Exam-based, Option B: Paper/project-based, Option C: Combination of Options A & B).
- Use of Publisher-provided textbooks and other publisher-provided course materials to ensure accessibility.
- Ensuring availability of course materials in other formats, such as audio books.
- Recording and archiving of class lectures.
- Create multiple channels through which students, faculty and classmates connect with each other and course materials. (Zoom class meetings, virtual office hours, student chat groups, etc).
- Built-in extended time for timed assessments (80 minutes for an exam designed for 40 minutes means 100% extended time for all).
Keep in mind that while UDL is meant to maximize course access and learning outcomes for students, this framework will never completely eliminate the need for accommodations, HOWEVER, the need for accommodations will be reduced as barriers are removed.
Current Students with Accommodations
Current ARC students who have already been approved for accommodations in past semesters have been encouraged to submit any additional accommodation request updates for Spring 2021. While student accommodation memos will still be updated and distributed, faculty are strongly encouraged to consider how UDL may be meshed with their current course design so that transmission of student accommodation memos is greatly reduced.
Some of the most commonly-requested accommodations include:
- Extended time for testing
- Copies of instructor notes and/or peer note-taker
- Flexibility around due dates and deadlines
- CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) for students who are D/deaf or hard of hearing or have information processing difficulties.
- Minimal distraction environment for testing
ARC will continue to proctor exams remotely (via Zoom) for the Spring 2021 semester. To make a proctoring request, please complete this form: Exam Administration Request form. If you are supporting a student who is not currently connected to ARC, and need assistance with proctoring, please reach out to the ARC office. A proctoring availability schedule will be published shortly after the start of the Spring 2021 semester. More information related to exam proctoring can be found here. and will be updated early in the spring semester.
Technology Tips & Tricks
How to Provide Extended Time on Assessments in Canvas
Canvas allows you to add additional time or attempts on a quiz for certain students. It can be done through the Moderate Quiz interface. To get to this screen, click on the quiz you wish to modify and you will see the option to Moderate Quiz on the right. Clicking the pencil in the student’s row will allow you to edit their number of attempts or extra time. Detailed instructions can be found here. Please note that this must be done for every quiz. There currently is not a way to set extra time for all quizzes/assignments. For additional Canvas help, please email email@example.com
American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreters
ASL interpreters can join classes remotely or in-person with appropriate social distancing (when that is an option). Interpreters can be added to Canvas as Observers through the firstname.lastname@example.org email account (newly-requested email account through IT) so that they receive course updates and information along with the student who has requested the interpreter. If breakout rooms are used during a class session, the interpreter should be placed in the same room as the student who requested the interpreter. This can be done manually by the instructor. See more information regarding breakout rooms here. ASL interpreter requests can be made through the ASL Interpreter Request Form.
Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services
CART services allow for individuals who are D/deaf or hard of hearing to receive a real-time class transcript via remote or in-person (when an option) technologies. CART services can be used in conjunction with, or in lieu of, interpreting services. CART writers can join classes remotely. In order to join a course meeting remotely, the CART writer should receive the meeting link in advance of a class meeting. Additionally, if breakout rooms are used during a class session, the CART writer should be placed in the same room as the student who requested the interpreter. Lastly, CART writers can be added to Canvas courses as Observers as email@example.com so that they receive course updates and information along with the student who has requested CART.
Note-Taking & Copies of Notes
As part of their accommodation plan, a student may request a peer note-taker. If a peer note-taker is requested by the student, please post the following announcement in Canvas: If you take clear, concise notes and are willing to share a copy with a student, please let me know and I can connect you to Meghan Sellet (firstname.lastname@example.org) from the Accessibility Resource Center. ARC will compensate you for your work. Thank you. If a peer note-taker cannot be recruited and/or instructor notes are not available, please reach out to ARC so that the staff can work with you and your student and reach a resolution.
Accommodation Implementation Challenges
Many accommodations can be easily implemented, regardless of course model. Note there are some accommodations (like a minimal distraction environment for testing) that are outside of our control depending on the learning environment (such as a student’s home). In these cases, it is possible to be creative and suggest that the student wear ear plugs or headphones to minimize distractions. If you have questions or concerns about how/if a particular accommodation can be implemented in a flex and/or remote course setting, please contact email@example.com.
As we continue to prioritize the health & safety of all going forward, and we continue to be vigilant about wearing face coverings in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19, please also be mindful of accessibility for individuals who may have communication access concerns. Transparent PPE can be obtained; contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.