Hello, Gamecock Family! Disability Resources, as part of the Student Success Center, strives to do just that. We recognize disability as an aspect of diversity that is integral to our campus community and our society. We strive to create an inclusive and accessible community for our students at JSU. Your staff at Disability Resources look forward to working with you and help make your courses and activities exciting and memorable adventures.
Here you will find detailed information around the accommodations provided, how students request and use accommodations, and best practices and helpful tips for faculty as they work with students receiving accommodations. In collaboration with students and faculty, our staff coordinate accommodations and support to ensure equal access to a Gamecock education. We are here to listen, advocate, provide consultation, and expand our knowledge, skills, and horizons. . Remember, if you have any questions, would like consultation with one of our Specialists, or would like for us to provide a presentation or attend one of your faculty meetings, we welcome you to contact our office.
The Accommodation Process for Students
In order to receive accommodation, students must first submit a request for accommodations and meet with one of our Disability Specialists to discuss their needs. Please note that the accommodations listed in this guide are comprehensive and may include some accommodations which some students may not be eligible to receive. Completing a request does not guarantee their eligibility to receive accommodations.
Students with documented disabilities are entitled to reasonable and appropriate academic accommodations in accordance with Federal laws including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The ADA defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. It is the student’s choice to disclose disability status and to request reasonable accommodations. We work diligently to ensure the process as simple and streamlined as possible.
- Step 1: Submit Request - Students may submit the online request for services form or fill out an intake form in the Disability Resources office.
- Step 2: Submit Documentation - Once the intake form is received by our office, a Disability Specialist will be assigned to the student. At this stage, students will submit any documentation of disability from a qualified healthcare provider, if they did not at the time of their submitted request.
- Step 3: Meet with Disability Specialist - Once the requested information has been received, the student with their specialist will develop an Individualized Post-Secondary Plan (IPP). The IPP serves as the request for accommodations in the classroom. It is up to the individual student, whether to present their IPP letter to their instructors and when to do so.
Upon receiving accommodation approval, it is the student's responsibility to follow the process below at the beginning of each semester in each class they are seeking accommodations.
- Step 1: Review their course's requirements to include the design of the course and reading the course syllabus. They are to consider their individual needs, and what accommodations they are eligible for and their appropriateness for that class.
- Step 2: Contact their assigned Disability Specialist and request to have their IPP letter sent to the instructors of the courses they will seek accommodations.
- Step 3: Set a time to meet with their instructors to review their IPP and discuss how accommodations will be provided. We encourage them to do this as early in the semester as possible. Such meetings should be facilitated through a face-to-face conversation either in person or online. Students may also follow-up that meeting with written confirmation to ensure the accommodations are worked out.
- Step 4: Maintain contact with their instructor and Disability Specialist as needed. It is their responsibility to arrange accommodations as needed.
If a student requests a meeting to discuss their accommodations with you, we recommend that you meet with the student in your office or another confidential location to discuss the requested accommodation. The student is not required to disclose their disability but may choose to share that with you if they choose to do so. As part of your conversation discuss each accommodation the student is requesting and work together to develop a plan for how the accommodations will work in your class.
We encourage students to discuss accommodations with their professors as early in the semester as possible. Students who have already met with our office are expected to request their IPP be sent to their professors at the start of each term which they seek accommodation. If a student is requesting a meeting to discuss their accommodations, Disability Resources recommends meeting with the student in your office or another confidential location to discuss the accommodations they have requested.
Consider the following as you work with the student:
- Discuss each accommodation and develop a plan for how to facilitate the accommodations in the class.
- Document the meeting and contact Disability Resources should there be any questions or concerns.
- Some students may not request accommodations until later in the semester. Provide accommodations at any point in the semester. Do note that they do not have to be provided retroactively.
- Ask a student to disclose the nature of their disability. While students have been encouraged to self-advocate for their specific needs, they do not have to discuss their disability.
- Deny the request for accommodations. If you have questions about the accommodation request or if you feel the accommodation would change the nature of the course, contact Disability Resources. Continue to provide the accommodation until the concern has been resolved.
Common Accommodations Students Receive
Students registered with Disability Resources have access to a multitude of accommodations to help students receive equal access to courses, services, programs, jobs, activities, and facilities offered at JSU. In this section we will discuss many of the common accommodations students receive. This listing is not exhaustive, and you may discover that occasionally other accommodations are offered to meet the student’s need than are listed here. Please keep in mind that not all students are eligible for each of these and that there may be some accommodations that are not listed below due to their rare/infrequent usage.
While this is not a service provided through our office, there are many students who utilize accessible parking. Stickers for accessible parking are handled through JSU Parking Services. Students applying for a permanent Jacksonville State University accessible parking permit must register for their parking decal before applying for their JSU accessible parking hangtag at Parking Services located in the Theron Montgomery Building (TMB), 4th floor at the ID / Student Services window.
Students with some disabilities in your courses may absence from class or have difficulty submitting assignments due to a temporary or permanent medical condition. To assist students, attendance and assignment deadline accommodations may be in place to support the occasional absence or missed deadline from disability symptoms. Students most likely to request adjusted attendance or assignment deadline policies as an accommodation are those with serious health or mental health related disabilities that flare up episodically (i.e., autoimmune disorders, Celiac disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerated colitis, sickle cell anemia, seizures disorders, forms of arthritis, conditions requiring chemotherapy or dialysis, psychiatric disorders, etc. This accommodation is considered on a case by cases basis and is an occasional exception and adjustment to policies when it is educationally feasible. The following methods may be considered and used in instances where a disability related absence or missed deadline occurs and the instructors have agreed to reasonably alternative but equivalent ways for a student to complete essential course requirements without compromising the course standards:
- Assigning comparable makeup work or flexibility in a submission deadline.
- Allowing students to attend essential lectures or make up missed in class activities during other course sections or through virtual methods.
- Allow the student to enroll in an alternate section of the course, such as an online section.
- Assigning an incomplete grade to allow the student opportunity to fulfill course requirements. Although the student to withdraw from the course and repeat the course during another semester once the disability related condition has stabilized.
- Providing alternative timelines for coursework and tests, where feasible.
This accommodation offers a bit more flexibility for students and the accommodation may vary from course to course. However, this modification does not mean that unlimited absences or assignment deadline modifications should be permitted. Additionally, absences for a non-disability related reason would not be excused by this accommodation. Students who are approved for this accommodation are expected to contact their instructors in advance of any anticipated absence when possible. This is especially important when an anticipated absence would result in the student missing a quiz, an exam, or other assignment deadline. For instances where there is an emergency or an unexpected disability-related absence, the student should inform their instructor as soon as possible to explain the absence and discuss any makeup work, when applicable.
In some instances, extended and or excessive absences that would limit workable adjustment options may not be reasonable. Consideration must be given to students being able to meet the academic standards through different modalities or methods. In fact, courses that involve significant in class participation as an essential method of learning or where a student is directly assessed in person (i.e., classes that rely on project or group-based learning, lab courses involving hands on learning, performance-based classes, studio art classes where faculty provide regular and on-going feedback, internships, and clinical practicum classes) may limit what adjustment options are available.
As with all accommodations, our office requests students with this accommodation meet with their instructors for each course early in the semester to discuss what this accommodation would look like in their course. To assist in determining if attendance or an assignment deadline is an essential part of your course, please consider the following:
- What does your course's syllabus say regarding attendance, making up missed exams, and accepting late assignments?
- Has a clear, comprehensive course calendar been provided to the student with due dates so that the student has the opportunity to prepare and manage their time accordingly throughout the semester?
- What specific elements of the course experiences are used to calculate the final grade?
- How do the students and instructor interact as part of the classroom experience?
- Is student participation in class a fundamental element of the course that is an essential method for learning?
- If a student is not able to attend a course, to what extent does it constitute a loss of educational experience for this student and other students in the course?
- what potential or actual barriers exist regarding course design as it relates to the nature of the specific disability limitations of the student?
- Are assignment deadlines integral to the progression of the work in the class?
- When and how should the student need to inform the instructor if they had to miss a class or an assignment?
- If an assignment is missed due to a medical flare up, is it reasonable to be made up and under what conditions?
Although instructors should not compromise academic standards, they are asked to design courses that include multiple, flexible options that allow all students to participate whenever possible. Students are required to meet all academic course requirements and to complete all assignments and examinations. Generally, assignments with more than one week to complete should be completed on time with proper time management and planning, and would only warrant an accommodation if there is an unexpected disability-related episode preventing the student from following through. The amount of flexibility provided should be determined on the basis of the structure of the course and the essential requirements that a student must complete to fulfill course requirements. This accommodation does not exempt a student from meeting the core competencies and objectives of a course regardless of the attendance modification. Continual requests for extensions beyond the agreed upon timeframes, retroactive requests, or requests due to non-disability related reason are not within the scope of this accommodation. It is the student's responsibility to obtain any materials and notes from missed classes. The student should be graded according to the criteria stated in the course syllabus. If the student is performing poorly in the class as a result of the extended absences, the student and faculty member should explore options to consider such as dropping the course, withdrawing from the class, or taking an incomplete.
Students with this accommodation can request to have tests, study guides, teacher handouts, etc. be formatted into braille or enlarged print. To make this request, the student or instructor will need to email the document to email@example.com with at least 2 days advanced time of it being needed. If the document is a math document that needs to be brailed, a week of lead time will be needed. If documents are not in electronic format (word document), or if the document is more than 3 pages, The Office of Disability Resources will need a longer lead time to get the document formatted. It is the student's responsibility to pick the document up in a timely manner.
Students may also request alternative textbook formats as a reasonable accommodation. It is imperative they contact the Office of Disability Resources regarding alternative textbook requests as soon as possible before the beginning of each semester. We will require the following information:
- Your name and Student ID#
- Book title (Include ISBN number, if known)
- Book author
- Edition needed
- Class for which book is needed
- Desired alternate format
Disability Resources has several types of assistive technology that can be signed out on loan to students. These items are loaned out on a first come, first serve basis.
Most of the building and facilities on JSU’s campus pre-date the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and modifications have been made to make the facilities more accessible. If you have a student that has difficulty entering or utilizing physical spaces on campus, please contact DR regarding your concerns. Some modifications or adjustments can be addressed quickly with the help of building managers and JSU Capital Planning and Facilities. Other accessibility concerns can be prioritized for modification as they are identified.
If you have a question about restricted elevator access in a building, please know that those buildings will allow you to check out a key for the semester that you will be attending classes in the building.
Housing accommodations can be provided to students with a documented disability whose ability to live in a standard housing environment is impacted. Students may require accommodations such as a private room, private bathroom, wheelchair access, visual fire alarm, kitchen access, emotional support animals (ESAs), among others. Disability Resources will coordinate with University Housing and Residence Life to work out any needed accommodations.
Any student requesting an interpreter or captionist should first be registered with Disability Resources. Requests for interpreters and captionists should be made in a timely manner with at least 24-hour notice. DR makes every effort to honor requests from students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing for interpreting and captioning services. However, there may be instances when an assignment cannot be filled, and alternate arrangements may need to be made.
The Coordinator of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services will assign interpreters and captionists based on the course subject matter, student’s communication style, and skills and availability of interpreters and captionists.
Working with an ASL Interpreter
A student in your course may have an accommodation to work with a sign language interpreter. Here are some best practices when working with an interpreter for your student.
- Maintain eye contact and communicate directly with the student and not the interpreter. Communicate as if the interpreter was not present.
- Continue to speak at your normal rate and use your natural forms of expression.
- Ensure there is a clear visual line between the student, interpreter, and facilitator.
- When possible, provide the interpreter with session information in advance. This may include lecture or presentation materials, supplemental readings, etc. This will allow the interpreter to be able to more effectively convey course content.
- If you are using videos in class, ensure the videos shown are captioned. If the videos you want to use are not captioned, please contact Disability Resources as soon as possible.
- Ensure there is adequate lighting for the student to be able to see the interpreter during lecture, presentation, and during film/videos or other electronic materials.
Working with a Stenographer or Captionist
A student may request captioning as an accommodation. Captioning is typically done live and can be done remotely or with a captionist in the classroom with the student. Let’s discuss what to expect and some best practices when working with a stenographer or captionist.
- Students receiving remote captioning will utilize a laptop or other electronic device to capture the audio and view the live captioning. The student may use an FM system or other microphone (on the lectern, desk, or work by the faculty member) to assist in capturing audio. If you have questions or concerns about the use of microphones or conflicts with existing amplification systems, please reach out to Disability Resources.
- Students receiving captioning through an in-person captionist or stenographer, the captionist will bring their equipment. This usually is comprised of a stenotype, a laptop, and usually a separate device (e.g., laptop or tablet) for the student to receive the transcribed material.
- Start the lecture when the student is clearly connected to the Captionist.
- There may be some slight delay in the captioning of material, so students may need some more time to respond to questions.
- Always repeat questions asked, so the captionist will be able to transcribe the question. This includes repeating questions from other students as well as your own.
- If your course uses any specific, unique terminology unique to the course, please provide that to the student and/or Disability Resources to help improve the captioning provided.
- Captionist and stenographers are ethically required to capture everything that is spoken. If you do not want it transcribed, do not say it.
Jacksonville State University requires that all first-year students living on campus (with the exception of those residing in apartment areas) purchase a meal plan, to ensure nutrition and well-being. At times, students with a documented disability may need accommodations to the required meal plan. The student should first meet directly with Dining Services to discuss options and dietary needs. If Dining Services is unable to meet the needs of the student, Disability Resources will assist with reasonable meal plan accommodations.
Preferential seating refers to a student’s need to sit in a specific location in the classroom that is most beneficial to learning. A student may need to sit away from doors or windows, at the back of the classroom, or in the front, all depending on the individual student’s needs. This should be an arrangement between you (the instructor) and the student. Disability Resources will be available to assist with the arrangement.
Students receiving accommodations through Disability Resources receive priority registration as an accommodation. Priority registration enables students with disabilities that require this service to register early each academic semester. The purpose of priority registration is to allow students with disabilities the ability to schedule classes in a manner, which allows their schedule to conform to the needs associated with their disability. Please note that Disability Resources is not able to remove holds from student accounts. Please encourage your students to monitory their MyJSU account and JSU Navigate App regularly and address any holds that appear.
When a disability impacts a major life activity such as learning, it can often inhibit a student’s ability to take adequate notes while also attending to lectures, classroom discussions, or presentations. In order to provide equality in these areas, note-taking may be requested as an accommodation. There are two primary methods utilized for notetaking. The most common method is a peer notetaker. This when another student assists with taking notes. Students may also utilize an electronic method of note taking using a recording device with specific software to assist transcribing notes. Even with the note taking accommodation, students are encouraged to take their own notes. This accommodation does not lessen one’s academic responsibilities (e.g., learning, attendance, and participation); however, it does assist the student in capturing and organizing information. If the student is absent from the class, the instructor is not obligated to send the notes under this accommodation. Notes are only expected for the dates they are in attendance. If they miss class, they are encouraged to reach out to their peers for notes just as students are without this accommodation.
The Office of Disability Resources recognizes the importance of service and emotional support animals and the benefit they provide to individuals with disabilities. We are committed to helping ensure equal access to university services, programs, and activities. While our office does not provide animals for students seeking the use of service and other assistance animals, we do work with students who utilize these animals. Let us first define key terms:
Disability: “Disability” is defined as a physical, mental, or medical condition or impairment that limits one or more of a person’s major life activities or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques. These limitations may include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, and learning.
Emotional Support Animal: An “emotional support animal’ (“ESA”) is an animal that provides comfort to an individual with a disability upon the recommendation of a qualified healthcare or mental health professional. An emotional support animal does not assist persons with a disability with activities of daily living but rather its role is to live with a student and alleviate the symptoms of an individual’s disability to provide equal opportunities to use and enjoy residential life at the University. An ESA is primarily limited to residence halls and designated outdoor areas on campus and is not permitted in academic buildings and other campus facilities. Animals younger than 4 months of age are not considered emotional support animals. An emotional support animal is not a service animal. Emotional Support Animals are governed through Housing and Urban Development and the Fair Housing Act.
Service Animal: A “service animal” as defined in Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is any animal (most often a dog) that is individually trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability including physical, psychiatric, intellectual, sensory, or other mental disabilities. The tasks a service animal provides is directly related to the functional limitations of the individual’s disability and include but are not limited to guiding individuals with visual impairments; alerting persons with hearing loss to intruders or sound; providing minimal (non-violent) protection or rescue work; pulling a wheelchair; assisting an individual during a seizure; or fetching dropped items. A service animal may be present in residence halls as well as academic buildings and other campus facilities unless the animal presents an unreasonable threat to health or safety. Animals younger than 4 months of age are not considered service animals. A pet or other animal whether the animal is trained or untrained whose sole function is to provide companionship, comfort, or emotional support does not qualify as a service animal.
Members of the University community are expected to abide by the following practices:
- Allow a service animal to accompany its owner at all times and in all places on campus, except where the presence of the service animal would present an unreasonable threat to health or safety. In extraordinary situations or settings, such as animal research laboratories and areas housing research or teaching animals, it may be necessary to ban service animals. In those situations, the University will work with individual to determine other options for the individual to receive the benefit of the University’s program. Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing services to people using service animals.
- Do not touch or pet service or emotional support animal without express permission from owner.
- Do not feed a service or emotional support animal.
- Do not deliberately startle a service or emotional support animal.
- Do not separate or attempt to separate an owner from his or her service or emotional support animal.
- Do not inquire for details about a person’s disabilities. The nature of a person’s disability is a private matter.
- If it is readily apparent that the individual has a disability and that the animal is a service animal, no further information will be requested.
- If it is not readily apparent that the animal is a “service animal” only limited inquiries are allowed: 1) Is the service animal required because of a disability and 2) what work or tasks has the dog been trained to perform. You cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a specific identification card, request training documentation, or ask for a demonstration of its ability to perform the work or task.
Students encountering limitations or barriers related to exams or testing environments may be eligible for exam accommodations. The preferred method for exams or testing modifications is to be done through the instructor’s own testing environment where possible. This allows them to have access to you or your designee just as the other students in the course do. If you and the student determine that you are not able to have the specific accommodations met, proctoring can be arranged through Testing Services in the Student Success Center.
We recognize that quizzes are often seen and administered different than exams. Accommodations for announced and unannounced quizzes may require some advanced planning. How to best accommodate depends on a variety of factors to include how the quizzes are administered, how students are to respond or provide their answers, the type of assessment used, and the accommodations requested. As you meet with the student to discuss accommodations, discuss with the student about how you administer quizzes. You and the student should discuss if they feel accommodations are needed on those quizzes. Students may also let you know at a later they are going to request accommodations for a future quiz. We do ask students to provide the request to their faculty members with as much time before the quiz as possible. Most often, the student is the best source of information on how to best accommodate their specific needs. However, if you are unsure on how to proceed, please reach out to us.
Here is a common (but not exhaustive) list of testing modifications.
- Short Breaks – This could provide a short 10-minute break for each hour of test time, for example. This is easier to manage for in-person exams. For online administered exams allow for breaks by extending time in Canvas. Be sure to communicate that the “extended time” is to accommodate their breaks.
- Distraction Reduced Environment – Students with this accommodation often need a location with minimal distractions (i.e., outside noise and movements). Seating a student in a hallway or in the back of a crowded room, or asking others to remain silent generally does not constitute an environment that is distraction reduced. Online exams, quizzes, and assignments do not often require modification unless they are in the same virtual room completing the task.
- Extended Time – Students who need extended time for assignments, quizzes, or exams, most often receive 1.5x (time and a half) or 2x (double the time) of the time given to the class. For example, if a professor assigns a test for 90 minutes and a student has extended time accommodations for 1.5x, the student should have their test time extended 45 extra minutes for 135 minutes total.
- Use of a Calculator – Students eligible for this accommodation should be permitted to use a calculator for any in-class or exam that requires mathematical work, unless those specific functions of the device (e.g., addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) are essential parts of the learning outcomes established for the course/assignment.
- Adaptive Technology – Students in need of adaptive or assistive technology will work with Disability Resources to ensure they have what they need. This includes any needs for larger print, screen readers, or Braille materials.
- Food / Drink Allowed – Some students may need access to food and drinks whether in-person or remotely. Safety protocols should be followed for the classroom setting (e.g., science labs). Students should be permitted to step out of the room to a space where they can safely eat or drink.
If you have any questions about how to provide a specific accommodation, please do not hesitate to contact Disability Resources.
Testing Services is a convenient location to assist you with providing exam accommodations for those that need to be completed in a distraction reduced environment or in some cases, extended time. Testing Services is located on the Ground Floor of the Houston Cole Library in Room B22. To contact Testing Services and schedule an exam or for more information you can call 256-782-TEST (8378) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to schedule with as much advanced notice as possible.
While the Office of Disability Resources seeks to meet the unique needs of students, there are some services that we do not provide. These are outlined below:
- Assessments – One of the primary ways to establish a student’s eligibility for accommodations is through a variety of clinical or medical assessments. The Office of Disability Resources does not conduct assessments. However, we are able to refer you or provide you with information to providers that can complete the assessments you are seeking.
- Therapy – We understand that students face a multitude of challenges and stressors that can be overwhelming. When working with these issues and crises it is hard to focus on your academic success. If you need support or someone to talk to, please consider working with our Counseling Services and find the support you need. While this office does not provide therapeutic intervention (mental health counseling and psychotherapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc.) we can connect you to the services you need.
- Accessible Parking Placards and Stickers – Students in need of temporary or permanent accessible parking must register through Parking Services located on the 4th Floor at the TMB. Reference the section on Accessible Parking above. There may be times where students need access to an application to apply for a ‘Accessible Parking Privileges” through the Alabama Department of Revenue Motor Vehicle Division. We are able to assist with access to the application in an effort to help you obtain access placards and/or license plates.
- Animals – Disability Resources does not locate, provide, or assign animals to students seeking service animals or emotional support animals.
Personal Care Attendants/Services – Some students with disabilities need on-campus personal care services to assist with activities of daily living (ADLs). Our office does not provide care attendants or individual prescribed devices for personal use or aids and services to assist in bathing, dressing, or other personal care needs. Personal attendants and individually prescribed devices are the responsibility of the student who has a disability.
Creating a More Inclusive Community
Preparing students for success is without question important, but this only addresses one facet of the barriers many students face when coming to college. Our student face societal challenges which must be challenged. As part of the work of every organization and department on campus, it is necessary to dismantle institutional inequities, provide equitable academic experiences, and promote inclusion of underrepresented and underserved populations. This section focuses on what efforts you can take to make your courses, technology, services, and physical spaces more welcoming and accessible to everyone. The Office of Disability Resources supports and promotes the Universal Design (UD) approach for making these necessary changes. UD is consistent with social models of disability and diversity which looks first to our environment, social structures, goods/services, and societal structures to recognize and dismantle barriers towards an institution of inclusion. We must recognize that we are all (not just our students) responsible for creating an inclusive environment and culture. Accessibility should be incorporated in the design from the start rather than through post-hoc changes when a need arises. The beauty behind UD is that there are no singular right ways to achieve the desired results. There is a lot of room for flexibility and to customize to specific needs through action, engagement, and expression.
Accessible Syllabus – A great web resource from Tulane full of accessible classroom recourses that promote student engagement. This is a great resource for developing inclusive learning statements, exploring methods for extended deadlines, building flexibility into grading distributions, using positive over punishing language and invitations over commands, and discovering best practices for use of text and images in accessible ways.
Duke Accessible Syllabus Project – Another wonderful resource that discusses general principles of an accessible syllabus and how to design the document. It also expands coverage into course policies and support, lesson design and delivery, class dynamics and rhetoric, assessment, and grading, and even that exciting first day of class.
Accessibility Toolkit for Open Educational Resources – This wonderful resource from CUNY is a guide created to help others create accessible content and OER. It specifically covers information on the creation of such content, accessible OER platforms, and accessibility principles and best practice. This site is regularly updated and provides guides, tutorials, and content on EPubs, Images, Word Documents, PDFS, Podcasts, PowerPoint, Videos, and more.
Creating PDF and Microsoft Office Documents – A great resource and guide from CUNY to ensure that documents are accessible. This resource has it all from best practices to tables, charts, graphics, and list items. It covers PDF files, Word documents, and PowerPoint Presentations. This wonderful resource has print guides with illustrative screenshots, check lists, and video guides.
Maintaining an accessible and inclusive environment for all students and their guests requires us to ensure we use best practices to ensure accessibility to events, activities, and productions. It is the obligation of the event planner and hosting organization to ensure accessibility for all participants. Pre-planning accessibility often reduces the number of requests for individual accommodations. The following items are best practices when designing and hosting your events.
It is the expectation of Disability Resources that all meeting and events are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Creating an accessible event is inclusive to all persons and allows students to fully engage in the program, activity, or event.
- Ensure staff hosting and participating are trained on accessibility features (e.g., technologies, parking, entrances, elevators, seating, restrooms, dining, and other facilities.)
- It is important to include statement about access on all publicity and informational material. Statements affirming your commitment to accessibility and inclusion are important.
- List accessibility and accommodations that are provided without the need for a special request in all communications about the event. For example, if your event is providing captioning or a sign-language interpreter, be sure to include that information in your event communication (pamphlets, emails, and other marketing).
- Provide a statement on all communication, event websites, and registration methods that asks attendees to specify any accommodation or accessibility needs they may have. Be sure to provide the name, phone number, and email address of the individual to contact from your organization.
- Sample statements include, but are not limited to:
- If you need accommodations to fully participate in this event, please contact (primary contact of department/organization hosting the event – name, number, email). Please allow sufficient time to arrange the accommodation. Note: Alternatively, if your registration for the event is online, you can have a prompt for those registering to request accommodations.
- If you have special dietary needs, please contact (contact information for contact in host organization or department). Note: Alternatively, you can have a section your registration forms which allows an individual to designate dietary needs.
- Offer multiple ways for individuals to access the event. This could include via live stream, virtual meetings, etc. If virtual attendance is allowed as part of your in-person event, ensure you have a staff person monitoring the chat for accessibility issues that may arise during the event. Advise those attending the chat on the available accessibility features and accommodations being offered and how to use them.
- Provide real-time captioning and ASL interpreting for all events even if you have the capability of generating automatic captions. Automatic captioning is often unreliable. Providing these services creates a transcript of the event that can be used by everyone.
- Ensure your event is hosted in a location that has adequate accessible parking, entrances, seating, and facilities.
- Request presenters to submit materials in advance for distribution. Ask that they verbally describe any visual slides, charts, etc. Request they avoid small print on presentations, activate captions, and encourage regular breaks for longer sessions. Ask presenters or moderators to repeat questions posed by audiences before responding.
- Be sure to clearly indicate allergens and dietary food (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and other) options.
An accessible venue is accessible and beneficial to all persons. We all benefit from universal design. For example, while automatic doors, accessible ramps, captioning, and curb cuts may not have been designed with the general public in mind, we all benefit from their existence. A parent carrying their child in one arm and a bag in the other would benefit from automatic doors. A person pushing a toddler in a stroller or pulling luggage benefits from ramps and curb cuts. An individual in a busy place or wants to be mindful of their surroundings in a quiet place use captioning to enjoy video clips and movies. Accessible design is important for all guests and should always be of consideration when planning events. Here are a few specific features to look for when selecting your venues:
Sound / Acoustics
- Is there adequate sound projection so everyone can hear the speaker? Provide PA systems, roving microphones, and speakers to increase available sound. Provide assistive listening devices for those that my benefit from them.
- Is it a noisy location? Limit background music, effects, and sounds that are not necessary.
- Is it well lit? Allow for preferred seating near the presenter and make sure the presenter’s face is well lit to allow for one to lip read. Lighting also assists interpreters, if they are needed.
- Is there accessible parking near the venue and the venue’s primary entrances?
- What access to ramps, elevators, and lifts are available?
- Are the bathrooms accessible?
- Are the pathways in and around the venue accessible and barrier-free?
- Are there wide doorways and aisles to accommodate scooters, wheelchairs, crutches, carts, and strollers?
- Is there adequate accessible seating dispersed throughout the event space? At events were seating involved different levels or price points, is there seating available in each of these areas throughout the space?
- Is there a comfortable area for service animals to rest during the event?
- Are there accessible areas for toileting and watering the service animal?
- Does the space have outlets in accessible seating areas to allow for charging of mobile devices, laptops, etc.?
- Are tabletops, counter space, and work surfaces accessible?
- If other meeting platforms are being used (e.g., Zoom, Teams, etc.) are the accessibility features available and turn on?
- Are assistive listening devices or CART services available?
Visual / Visibility
- Is signage that indicate locations and directions clear and easily visible?
- Are meeting spaces, hallways, and pathways well lit?
- Can the speaker, projection screen, or activities been seen from all seating?
- Avoid the use of flashing and strobing animations, lights, etc. in presentations and other materials. If such is to be included, please provide a notice in advance of the event.
Looking for checklists for your event or production? The American Bar Association has an excellent Planning Accessible Meetings and Events Toolkit for use. This guide provides information from choosing a venue to material creation, from virtual to in-person events, and from meals to communication and etiquette.
Accessible Virtual Environments
- Hide any unused link folders and menu items.
- Use ready-made styles/formats found in the menu of the content editor to specify heading levels and your ordered and unordered lists.
- Uploaded content should be in an accessible format (e.g., accessible PDF, accessible PPT, accessible Word, etc.).
- Add alternative text (Alt Text) to images, charts, and tables.
- All video files should have captions.
- All audio files should have transcriptions.
- Use the Accessibility Checker icon found on the status bar in the rich content editor to make sure your content is accessible.
- Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM) – A website dedicated to understanding and implementing web accessibility through accessible design principles. The site is full of information, articles, and even free tools to use to check the accessibility of your materials and content.
Virtual Platform Accessibility Information and Guides
Our learning environment is as diverse as the platforms and solutions we use in these environments. Whether you are teaching online, hybrid, or in a traditional classroom setting, you will likely use one or more technological platform to enhance student learning. While this list is not exhaustive, here are some of the most common platforms we see used across campus.
- Microsoft Teams: Accessibility Overview | Tips for Inclusive Microsoft Team Meetings
- Zoom: Accessibility Settings and Features
- Canvas: Accessibility Standards and Settings
We recognize that many faculty and programs use other solutions. Below is a checklist to help you ensure the solutions you select provide for accessibility to your classes and events. Whenever in doubt, please feel welcome to reach out to our office for consultation.
- Is the platform accessible for individuals with disabilities? You may often find Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) which contains information about how the product or services conforms with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. For web-based applications you may also find wordage around compliance with W3C Web Accessibility.
- Is the solution compatible with assistive technologies (e.g., screen readers and browsers, cognitive aids, captioning, etc.)?
- Does the solution have simple keyboard shortcuts?
- Are the features of the solution accessible?
- Are there build in customizable accessibility interfaces to allow for the user to adjust video windows and screen magnification as needed?
- Are there barriers to joining meetings and events?
Creating Accessible Content
Recommended Disability Related Statements for Publications
JSU seeks to create and sustain an environment that is inclusive and welcoming for all students which values diversity and equity. The Office of Disability Resources supports the university’s efforts for an inclusive and accessible learning environment. To help ensure accessibility in courses, events, and programs at JSU, our office has provided recommended statements for your programs and publications. The Office of Disability Resources is charged with accessibility and accommodations in the classroom. It is the responsibility of the individual department(s) or organizations hosting or sponsoring a campus event to ensure the event is accessible. The primary contact should be with those departments for campus events. Your program/event must try to provide reasonable accommodations. Our office is available for consultation for any disability related issues, accommodations, or questions.
Every event is unique. Some may have materials that may need to be offered in alternative formatting to be accessible. Other events offer meals and guests may have special dietary needs. Here are a few sample statements to help communicate accessibility at your events.
If you need accommodations to fully participate in this event, please contact (primary contact of department/organization hosting the event name, number, email). Please allow sufficient time to arrange the accommodation. Note: Alternatively, if your registration for the event is online, you can have a prompt for those registering to request accommodations.
If you have special dietary needs, please contact (contact information for contact in host organization or department). Note: Alternatively, you can have a section your registration forms which allows an individual to designate dietary needs.
If you have access to a text telephone (TDD), you should provide access to that number in your materials as well.
Disability Resources recommends that each course syllabus contain a statement reflecting compliance with The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, Section 504. Our goal is to utilize syllabus language that recognizes disability as an aspect of diversity and equality which seeks to place emphasis on inclusive course design using language that focuses on barriers encountered due to design rather than limitations caused by disability. Such statements empower a student-faculty member partnership that finds solutions and involves the Office of Disability Resources when needed or desired. The following is the suggested statement:Jacksonville State University is committed to creating an inclusive learning environment that meets the needs of its diverse student body. If you are currently experiencing or anticipate that you will have any barriers to learning in this course, please feel welcome to discuss your concerns with me. It is my goal to create a learning experience that is as accessible as possible. If you have a disability, or think you may have a disability, that may have some impact on your work in this course and for which you may require academic adjustments or accommodations, please work with a staff member in Disability Resources so that accommodations can be considered. Students that receive accommodation letters, or Individualized Post-Secondary Plans (IPPs) should meet with me to discuss the provisions of your accommodations as early in the semester as possible. You can find more information about the Office of Disability Resources on the web or by visiting the Student Success Center on the 2nd Floor of the Houston Cole Library. You may also call (256) 782-8380 or email at email@example.com . All discussions will remain confidential.
Tips for Teaching Students with Disabilities
There are two basic categories of visual impairment – blind and having partial or low-vision. Low-vision is an umbrella term that contains a wide spectrum of visual disorders that are generally not fully corrected by corrective lenses. These include diagnoses that cause reduced contract and glare (e.g., Achromatopsia or color blindness, optic atrophy, corneal dystrophy or corneal degeneration, and cataracts), peripheral vision loss (e.g., glaucoma, retinal diseases, and hemianopsia), central vision loss (e.g., macular degermation and dystrophy and diabetic retinopathy), among others. The major challenge that students who are blind or have low vision face is the volume of printed materials (e.g., syllabi, handouts, outlines, schedules, textbooks, research articles, and tests/exams). Many individuals with visual impairments do not require canes or service animals and there are a number of adaptive strategies and supports available to assist students.
- Identify yourself by name, maintain normal volume, and speak directly to the student. Always use the student’s first name when addressing them even when passing in the hallways.
- Work with the student and DR in advance to have their textbook and materials converted into electronic text or Braille. Please note that depending on the size of the request it can take several days to a few weeks to complete the conversion.
- Describe the visual aids you are using in class.
- Verbalize what is being written on the boards.
- Provide copies of figures and overhead/projected materials so that the student can view at another time or using an alternative format/method.
- Use large print size (at least 18pt) for handouts, transparencies, and projected materials.
- Provide documents and presentation files in accessible formats.
- Thing “big, bold, simple” in your classroom design and for materials. Use contract for everything.
- Use Sans Serif fonts like Arial, Calibri, and Helvetica.
- Provide as much advanced notice as possible for papers or assignments requiring research. This will allow the student adequate time to both find and read the materials for the assignment as they may need to find someone to assist.
- Allow for alternative arrangements to complete pop-quizzes.
- Allow for preferential seating.
- Inform all students when the classroom furniture has been rearranged and keep doors to the classroom either fully open or closed.
- When providing direction for movement or location, avoid vague terms like “over there.” Instead use specific wording like “straight ahead” or “to your left.”
- If the student utilizes a guide or service animal, remember they are working animals. Never pet the dog without the owner’s knowledge and permission.
- It is okay to use words that reference sight. For example, “See you later.”
- Be aware of your own acceptance and believes as a professional. Your acceptance serves as an example to all students in your course.
Terms like “deaf” and “hard of hearing” are often used in society to describe hearing loss. The difference between the two terms is the degree of hearing loss that has occurred. Hearing loss is often rated across four categories (or degrees) of hearing loss. This includes mild (hard to hear soft or subtle sounds), moderate (hard to hear speech or other sounds at normal volume), severe (very difficult to hear anything at normal volume but may still be able to hear some loud sounds and speech), and profound (only very loud sounds, if any are heard). Those who identify as hard of hearing typically have mild-to-severe hearing loss. Deafness on the other hand refers to profound hearing loss. When working with students who are Deaf or hard of hearing keep these tips in mind:
- Allow for preferential seating.
- Ensure you have the attention of the student before speaking. Effective methods can include a tap on the shoulder, waving, or other similar visual signal.
- Talk in areas where there is not a lot of background noise and ensure only one person is speaking at a time.
- Make sure you speak at a natural, steady pace. You may be slightly louder than you usually would but avoid shouting and overemphasizing words. Exaggeration and overemphasis can distort lip movements.
- Utilize short sentences rather than long ones.
- Maintain eye contact with the student even when a sign language interpreter or captionist is present.
- When working with a sign language interpreter, address the student directly. Avoid phrases such as “tell him” and “ask her.”
- Utilize hand gestures and other non-verbal expressions to provide clues and context for what is being said.
- Avoid chewing gum, eating, or covering your mouth with your hand as these can make lip-reading difficult.
- When wearing masks or other items that cover the face, be aware that this may muffle or distort your voice and make lip reading more difficult.
- Allow extra time when referring to manuals, guides, or texts and allow extra time for students to ask or answer questions.
- Repeat questions and statements made from the back of the room.
You may often hear terms like “Learning Disability” or “Learning Disorder” or “Cognitive Impairments.” While many understand the general idea of what they are there is some confusion around its meaning of and impact on students in higher education. These terms are umbrella terms. They cover a wide variety of learning problems. For many students with these diagnoses, it can be a lifelong condition. Individuals with these disorders or impairments may hear, see, and understand differently than those without them even when their overall intelligence or motivations are not impacted. We most often see students with these diagnoses have difficulties with reading and writing language, math calculations, speech, listening, and reasoning. Here are a few tips for teaching students with learning disabilities:
- Provide course and assignment information and requirements with as much advanced notice as possible.
- Provide a list of key terms prior to each class.
- When possible, provide copies of lecture notes and lecture aids to assist the student.
- Allow for the use of notetakers.
- Have captioning or written transcripts available when using film or video in class.
- Avoid using copies of documents that have smudges or streaks.
- Utilize visual aids (e.g., white boards, projectors, charts, and diagrams).
- Provide explicit structure and allow for extra time to complete tasks.
- Provide frequent and ongoing feedback about student performance.
- Where possible, avoid colloquial expressions and idioms as they may be difficult to process. Be prepared to rephrase complex ideas or those introducing new terms.
- Outline your lecture at the beginning and end of each class.
- Use Sans Serif fonts like Arial, Calibri, and Helvetica across neurotypes.
Students with specific physical and mobility needs often rely on assistive devices (e.g., canes, walkers, crutches, wheelchairs, or artificial limbs) for mobility. Classroom and campus design may provide barriers and limit a student performing tasks like entering learning spaces, sitting in a single spot for extended periods of time, and even manipulating writing devices and electronics. Utilize these best practices when working with students:
- When necessary, arrange for room changes before the semester begins.
- When speaking with a student for more than a few minutes, kneel, sit, or squat to enhance communication and reduce neck strain.
- Support special seating arrangements to meet student needs. This may include lowered tables and lab areas, space for wheelchairs, wide spaces to move and turn around.
- Ensure any special seating allows the student to remain part of the regular classroom seating.
- Make arrangements early for field trips to ensure accommodations can be in place (e.g., transportation accessibility, site accessibility, etc.).
- Allow flexibility with deadlines and use of adaptive technology and methods for in-class work.
- Never come up behind a student utilizing a wheelchair and push or move them without their knowledge and consent. Most students will ask for assistance if they need it, but never hesitate to ask if a student needs assistance. Assistance is not always required or welcomed. Be sure to ask, but do not insist.
- Do not avoid terms like “walking, running, or standing.” These remain acceptable in conversation.
DO-IT Center – The Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) center seeks to increase success of people with disabilities in research, education, and careers through the provision of training material and workshops.
OER Access, Merlot – An online community for those seeking a collection of open education resources and UDL and accessible technology information. The resources provide accessible online teaching and learning materials.
Open Professionals Education Network (OPEN) – A resource director funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for openly licensed media elements for use in your courses. These include Open Educational Resources like images, video, and music/audio as well as openly licensed books, lectures, textbooks, simulations, course modules, and complete courses.
OpenStax – Publisher of peer-reviewed openly licensed textbooks that are 100% free online and low-cost in print.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines – A tool used to implement the UDL framework and optimize both teaching and learning. These are based on scientific insights on how we learn. This is a product of the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST).
Universal Design for Learning in Higher Ed – Another product of CAST that hosts a collection of resources for use in postsecondary institution. The target stakeholders are faculty, instructional designers, policy makers, and administration. These resources focus on four categories: UDL in Higher Ed, Media and Materials, Accessibility and Policy and Course Design.
Rights and Responsibilities
The Office of Disability Resources offers support services to any qualified student with a disability who requests such services. Students have the right to equal access to courses services, programs, jobs, activities, and facilities offered at JSU. They have the right to an equal opportunity to learn and work. Students have the right to receive reasonable accommodations that they qualify for and receive information in accessible formats warranted by provided documentation. They have the right to confidentiality of information regarding their disabilities except disclosures that are required or permitted by law.
- Meet qualifications and standards for courses, programs, services, employment, activity, and facilities.
- Self-identify as an individual with a disability when an accommodation is needed and to seek information, advice, and assistance within a reasonable amount of time.
- Provide documentation from an appropriate professional about their disability and how it limits participation in courses, programs, services, employment, activities, or facilities.
- Arrange schedules and transportation.
- Adhere to all standards of conduct, rules, and regulations of JSU.
- Meet criteria in the courses of study (e.g., attendance and grading policies).
- Sit in a place that provides the best opportunity for learning given the learning environment and accommodations you receive.
- Meet with their Disability Specialist as early in the semester as possible to assure appropriate accommodations are in place and work with their instructor to create an agreement that will assure student learning outcomes can be met in the course.
- Notify instructors, disability specialist, and any staff providing accommodations in the event they have difficulty receiving services or will not need them on a day they were previously scheduled (e.g., due to missing a class or a class being cancelled).
- Collaborating with students with disabilities and the Office of Disability Resources to create an accessible classroom and learning experience.
- Provide the approved accommodations, outlined on the students IPP in a fair and timely manner.
- Encourage students with disabilities to approach you early in the semester and be available for accommodation conversations. Doing this during office hours or scheduled appointments offer the best opportunity to discuss in a manner that protects the student's privacy. Focus conversations and questions on how to best provide the accommodations within the context of your course.
- Protect the student's privacy. Their IPP is confidential and should not be shared without the student's prior written permission. Faculty are responsible for sharing the information with teaching assistance whose responsibilities include providing oversight or implementing the student's accommodations.
- Accommodations may be requested at any point in the semester, but they are not retroactive.
- Grade the performance of a student with disabilities as you would all other students.
- The Office of Disability Resources is a resource for faculty and staff. We welcome you to contact us with your disability and accommodation-related questions.
Information that is related to a student's disability is protected as students are entitled to confidentiality of this information under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Office of Disability Resources treats all student information as confidential; therefore, medical, psychological, and educational information contained in the DR record will be maintained as protected and confidential. Faculty members do not need to have access to information regarding a student's disability, only the accommodation(s) that are appropriate and necessary to meet the student's needs. Records are held and maintained in compliance with applicable state and federal laws (e.g., FERPA and HIPAA, where applicable) concerning medical records and professional codes of conduct.
It is the student's decision whether to share disability-related information with instructors or staff. Students who wish to request accommodations are responsible for making that request and sharing their accommodations with the instructor through the Individualized Postsecondary Plan (IPP). The IPP only contains information related to the student's accommodations. There is no information listed about the student's diagnosis or disability in this plan.
The Office of Disability Resources cannot normally discuss any information about a student's progress at Jacksonville State University with a third party, including parents, unless the student authorizes us to do so in writing in advance. Authorization can be obtained on the Request for Services Intake Form and the JSU Authorization for Release of Medical Information. The student may also provide authorization through the University's PROXY process through the Registrar's Office. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the University policy regarding the release and disclosure of student information generally prohibits the Office of Disability Resources from disclosing confidential information to anyone but the student without prior consent.
There are limits to confidentiality when a student discloses that they are at risk for harming themselves or others or in cases where information involving child or elder abuse is disclosed.