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If you are teaching in higher education chances are you will have students enrolled in your courses that have a disability. Disabilities in the higher education population range from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) to developmental disabilities that a student may have been diagnosed with since birth, students on the autism spectrum and Down’s syndrome are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what students may be experiencing as a student in your courses.

Who is Responsible for What?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. What this means for the faculty and administration of the university system is that we are responsible for ensuring that students with disabilities have access to our physical campus, online materials and course content following the standard of the ADA.  In the graphic below we have broken down the roles of the faculty, student services and faculty services:

Accessibility Roles at UAA

The university is responsible to supply accessibility statements for all supported software. UAA’s supported software information is located under UAA IT Services. This page lists the accessibility statements for all software licensed for use for students, staff and faculty. This list includes the UAA website, Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Collaborate and the eWolf ePortfolio. UAA’s Disability Support Services department is your student liaison group, they assist students who register with them in using assistive technologies, proctoring tests in the DSS lab, and assisting students in how to be successful in their college courses.

As faculty we are responsible for any additional content we choose to add to our online environment. Any materials we link too, create or add in the online environment need to be saved as accessible content. The good thing this is not a difficult process if we think about it from the beginning of our design or redesign process. Also once a document is saved as accessible it can be used over and over in that format, an example would be your instructions for the course final project, if you reuse this each semester, once you format and save it you can reuse it without worry.

For faculty Academic Innovations & eLearning has created instruction sets to assist you in using best accessibility practices when creating content to be shared in your online course environment broken down into three main types of faculty created content: (select the links below to access the instruction sets)

  • electronic documents, e.g. course syllabus, instruction sets, assignment descriptions
  • video content, e.g., video messages and/or recorded course lectures
  • publisher or outside media, e.g., publisher materials that enhance the text, video or library licensed resources

It is also good to note that any outside media or resources from the library or publisher must also be accessible, most companies and publishers already address this issue, but it is always good to review the materials before the students view them so you know what the student experience will be.

If you would like additional training or assistance with creating accessible online content please contact:

Academic Innovations & eLearning



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