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Access Classroom Materials

Guidelines for Accessible Classroom Materials

WSU will make every reasonable good faith effort to ensure that students and other academic program participants (Participants) with disabilities requiring reasonable accommodations have meaningful access and an equal opportunity to participate in classes and academic programs at WSU.  WSU faculty members should be familiar with their Student Disability Service Center’s procedures and to respond to reasonable accommodation requests in a timely fashion.

Reasonable accommodations

Reasonable accommodations can include modifications to classroom materials, facilities, or activities to allow persons with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their ability.  Accommodations should not fundamentally alter a course’s essential components. Typically, students are responsible for notifying their Faculty of approved reasonable accommodations from their Student Disability Service Center by presenting the approved accommodation form for signatures.  Faculty members are responsible for implementing many student accommodations.

Questions about these guidelines and related policies may be directed to the WSU Office for Equal Opportunity at 509-335-8288, oeo@wsu.edu, and/or the WSU ADA Coordinator at adacoordinator@wsu.edu.  Questions about student reasonable accommodation requests may be directed to the Disability Service Advisors on your campus:

Responsibility for Classroom Materials Accessibility

Students may request accommodations on the basis of a documented disability through Student Disability Service Centers.  Once reasonable accommodations are approved, typically, students notify faculty of the approved accommodations from Student Disability Service Centers by presenting the approved accommodation form for signatures.  Students are expected to meet with their instructors to discuss how accommodations are facilitated.  Generally, faculty are responsible for ensuring course information is reasonably accessible to students and that students have an equal opportunity to convey their knowledge.  Faculty can work with the Disability Service Providers for any questions they may have about implementation and for assistance with all reasonable accommodations, including, but not limited to the following items:

  • Alternative testing locations and times
  • Alternative print of course materials (e.g. braille, Kurzweil 3000 files, text files, audio files, etc)
  • Note takers
  • Interpreters
  • Transcription services
  • Screen readers
  • Scribes
  • Relocation of classrooms, if inaccessible
  • Specialized furniture
  • Flexibility with attendance/assignments deadlines
  • Closed captioning
  • Assistive Listening Devices

For student reasonable accommodations, the disability services center is responsible for most costs associated with those accommodations. There may be specific instances where the cost of accommodations are absorbed or shared with departments.

Recommendations for Faculty

Classroom Materials

Faculty are encouraged to consider accessibility in developing course materials, whether or not a reasonable accommodation has been requested.  Consistently selecting accessible course material allows for reasonable accommodations to be implemented quickly, and can benefit all students, with and without disabilities (for example, a student with hearing impairment and a student with English as a second language may both benefit from captions on a video).

Faculty are also encouraged to consider including universal-design learning (UDL) principles in their courses.  More information about UDL is available here: http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl

In order to proactively make course materials accessible, consider the following:

  • Confirm that video learning materials are captioned and/or have transcripts.
    • For all videos, whether they are self-created or captured from an external agencies, confirm that the captioning and/or transcripts provided are accurate.
  • Confirm that audio learning materials have transcripts.
  • Confirm that text books are available from a publisher in digital format.
  • Confirm that course materials (e.g. websites, interactive games, CDs, PowerPoints, etc) provided by the publisher are accessible.
  • Provide written materials (including documents and PowerPoint presentations) in alternative accessible formats (e.g. audio, tagged PDF, rich text format)
    • In written materials, be sure to use:
      • Headings
      • Sufficient color contrast
      • Sufficient white space
      • Alternative text and explanation for pictures, graphs, diagrams, and other images
      • Easily readable font
  • Confirm that software and hardware used or purchased for class is accessible.
  • Confirm that websites used for the course are accessible.
  • If you have necessary course materials or activities that are not accessible to all students, consider alternatives means for those materials or activities to be available.
  • Confirm that library reserve materials are accessible or chosen from publishers who provide accessible content.
  • Confirm that math/scientific equations and/or formulas being provided digitally are created using MathML.

Additional Recommendations for Accessibility:

  1. Include referral information about the disability service advisors in your syllabus and/or the university’s discrimination or accessibility policies.
  2. Provide multiple ways for students to communicate with you.
  3. Refer students to the disability service advisor, if necessary (i.e. a student shares a concern about their ability to complete a task due to their disability).
  4. Work with the disability service advisor if you have any questions.
  5. Departments can keep a log of accessible materials for wider use within the department. This is especially helpful for classes that are taught by graduate students.

How-to Create Accessible Course Material

  • Close Captioning / Transcription for audio or video files
    • For students with an accommodation approved by the Access Center, Student Affairs – Disability Services, or Student Affairs Disability Support Services (depending on your campus), that office will work with faculty, and the closed captioning or transcription services, to close caption or transcribe video or audio files.
    • Video recordings offered and provided to the public must be captioned, and audio recordings must be transcribed; the department is responsible for these costs.
    • Closed Captioning requests (for material which is not closed captioned by the Access Center, Student Affairs-Disability Services, or Student Affairs Disability Support Services (depending on campus)) can be directed to the following:
  • Creating an Accessible Website
    • WSU Web Communications offers accessibility training sessions to website administrators, as well as accessible templates for webpages.  Consider using the following:
      • Use heading for each section and subsection(s)
      • Create alternative text for images
      • Use captioning and/or transcripts for video and audio files
      • Use descriptive language for links (e.g. instead of using “More information can be found here,” use “More information can be found on the Access Center Webpage“)
      • Consider whether the website can be navigated without a mouse, using keystrokes
    • Please visit the WebAim Website for more information on creating accessible websites.
  • Creating an Accessible Document
  • Locating accessible hardware and software
    • Many manufacturers can provide information on their product’s compliance with accessibility regulations.  If you are unsure, please consult with the Information Technology Accessibility Coordinator or their delegate for consultation regarding accessible hardware.  The coordinators are listed below:
      • WSU:  Sasi Pillay
      • Global Campus: Wendy Steele
      • Spokane: Karla Ealy-Marroquin
      • Tri-Cities: Tim Larreau
      • Vancouver: Scott Fraser