Do students with disabilities need to self-disclose to request accommodations?
Yes. We recommend welcoming them by putting a statement on your syllabus. Here is an example:
“To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact the Disability Support Services (DSS) office at 410-617-2062/5137, or email@example.com. If you are already registered with DSS and receive academic accommodations, please make sure a notification is sent to me. Once I receive the electronic notification, please schedule a time with me to have a brief conversation about arranging classroom accommodations. Please check my office hours to schedule this meeting.”
Is DSS available to assist students and faculty to arrange accommodations?
Yes, the following resources provide information:
What are accessibility needs based on disability type?
Who are the audiences for accessibility? There are multiple audiences needing their own accessibility accommodation, depending on their needs. However, many "accommodations" actually serve more than just the intended core group...showing that accessibility can benefit everyone.
Individuals with severe visual impairment
Individuals with severe visual impairment may rely on a screen reader (software that reads content aloud) to access websites. Visual cues, such as images, section divisions or table headers, may be unperceivable to this audience unless additional information is added. Often required are text alternatives for images and other visual content, and the specification of key landmarks (e.g. headers, lists) within a document. JAWS is a commonly used screen reader, and this website has a demonstration of JAWS.
Individuals with low vision and individuals with colorblindness
The term "low vision" refers to individuals who have enough sight to use a visual browser, but who may need to enlarge text or use special high-contrast font and color settings in order to access online information. To accommodate low vision users, it is important to not inadvertently disable zooming or the ability to adjust color/font settings. For users with colorblindness, it is important that color-coded information be available with another visual cue such as changes in shape, line texture or be text-based.
People with hearing impairment
A deaf person or someone with hearing loss can see all the visual information in a website, but will not be able to hear any audio content. Audio information should be presented in captions or alternative text transcripts for some who is deaf or who has a hearing loss.
People with learning disabilities
Experts generally recommend maintaining a consistent, simple interface so that users with cognitive impairments can process online information more easily. Specific recommendations are found on Penn State’s Accessibility site for learning disabilities.
People with impaired mobility and manual dexterity
Users with mobility impairments might rely less on a mouse to navigate computerized content, instead using the keyboard or another, more specialized input device. Therefore, the person may require accommodations in order to access and comprehend a web page's content. More information is found on Penn State’s Accessibility site for impaired mobility. Also, these individuals might have physical access concerns on Loyola’s campuses. For example, a person might need a wheelchair accessible desk; access to print materials through electronic text; or adaptive technology, like a modified keyboard or speech recognition software). Contact DSS for assistance if you need help arranging modifications for a person with mobility impairment.
How do I make PDFs accessible?
PDFs are challenging to make accessible. It is recommended to avoid or minimize the use of PDF files. If a PDF is used, try to include another format (such as HTML, Word, or PowerPoint). Learn more:
What are the “Top Blockers” to Electronic Accessibility?
Here are tips and resources to avoid them:
Image Alt tags
These are important because a person who relies on a screen reader does not get the content that visual images provide unless they have Alt tags. Learn how to add Alt tags to images:
Page or Document Titles
All online pages should have unique titles that describe the content of the page or document. This allows screen readers to distinguish pages from each other and also enhances other functions such as tab titles (web pages) and table of contents (PowerPoint). To learn how to add titles, visit Penn State's title information site.
Headings and Subheadings
People with limited or no vision depend on screen reading software that reads the text on the screen aloud. If you bold normal text to create the look of a heading a screen reader will just read it as paragraph text. Conversely, do not use a heading style to make text big and bold if it really is not a heading. The screen reader will read it as a heading and not properly communicate the emphasis you intended. For documents longer than 3-4 paragraphs, headings and subheadings are important usability and accessibility strategy to help readers both determine the overall outline of the document and to navigate to specific information that may need more of the reader's attention. Learn how to add headings, subheadings and lists:
Helping users understand the destination of links is an important step towards increasing the usability and accessibility of a document. Learn how to link text:
Table Headers and Captions
When you design a form, a table or a presentation slide, you have to ensure the information flows logically for assistive technologies (like a screen reader) and that the page is keyboard accessible. Learn how to create table headers and captions:
When we talk about the accessibility of forms, we are usually referring to their accessibility to people who use screen readers. People with other types of disabilities are generally less affected by faulty forms. It should be noted that everyone benefits from a well-organized and highly usable form, especially those with cognitive disabilities. Forms should be organized in a logical manner. Place the label for the form (e.g., First Name :) adjacent to the form element (i.e., text box, check box, radio button, and menu/list). Provide good and clear instructions about what information is desired. If any form elements are required, be sure to indicate so without using color. Make sure that the order in which form elements are accessed is logical and easy. This can sometimes be problematic if tables are used to control layout of form items. Learn how to create form labels:
Video captions benefit not only those who cannot hear the sound, they benefit non-native English speakers, people who don't have speakers on their computer, those listening to a video in a noisy room or those who learn better by reading and listening to the content.
Since providing captioning or transcripts can be time consuming and expensive, instructors should try to post video that is already captioned when possible. To find captioned videos on YouTube or Google see Searching for Captioned Media. To request captioning, please contact Disability Support Services.
It is important to test your pages to see if they are accessible. There are several tools that can help you do this. Learn about testing tools:
Where can I learn more about making all the elements of my course (design practices, syllabus, online or PDF formatted readings, videos, quizzes, grading, etc.) accessible in Moodle?
What are some other resources available for faculty?
Here are great resources from other universities. Just click on the title to access the information:
Questions? Need Help? Contact Us:
- Loyola University Maryland’s Technology Service Office, 410-617-5555, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Loyola University Maryland’s Disability Support Services, 410-617-2062/5137, email@example.com