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Creating Accessible Courses

Just as buildings must be accessible to persons with physical disabilities, websites and course materials must be accessible to students with hearing or visual impairments. The obligation to arrange for accessible materials falls primarily on the instructor designing the course. Select textbooks, readings, and classroom materials well in advance to ensure that these items are available in accessible formats, such as PDF or word documents that can be used with screen reading software.

Be proactive. Plan in advance for the time required to obtain videos with high-quality captioning. Providing classroom materials in a wide range of accessible formats benefits all students.

The following website can help you get started in creating accessible classroom materials: 

Universal Design for Instruction

Universal design for instruction (UDI) is an approach to designing course instruction, materials, and content to benefit students of all learning styles without adaptation or retrofitting. For University of Rochester teaching resources and collaboration to implement UDI in your course, please contact Jennifer Hadingham, assistant director at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

Additional resources about the philosophy and support for instruction methods can be found at DO-IT's Center for Universal Design in Education.

Some strategies include:

  • Creating and maintaining accessible websites
  • Creating and maintaining accessible course notes, study guides, and presentations on the web
  • Creating and maintaining comprehensive syllabi with clearly delineated statements about course expectations, timelines, and assignments
  • Allowing students to record lectures

For more information see, the Equal Access: Universal Design of Instruction video.

Disability Resources and Awareness

DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) at the University of Washington serves to increase the successful participation of individuals with disabilities in academic programs such science, engineering, mathematics, and technology. Primary funding for DO-IT is provided by the National Science Foundation, the State of Washington, and the US Department of Education.

Assistive Technology

AccessIT at the University of Washington has a compilation of resources that promotes the use of assistive technology for students, as well as employees, with disabilities in educational institutions. The mission of AccessIT is to support the efforts of educators, policy makers, librarians, technical support staff, students and employees to make academic achievement possible through the implementation of assistive technology.