Moving to Online/Remote Courses and Accessibility:

Disability Services acknowledges the significant effort required to quickly adapt courses to online learning models. We are here to collaborate with our community and support in this transition to ensure that access for students with disabilities is maintained.  We hope that even with this accelerated timeline, the tools you learn will continue to be part of your instructional access in the future.
Some students may encounter disability-related barriers with online instruction or assessment (e.g. students who use assistive technology, have vision or hearing based limitations) that may uniquely impact learning, while others may find remote learning more accessible.  We continue to work with campus partners on how to comprehensively address access eand provide faculty with updated guidance. 
Don’t Know What to Do?  Three Great Places to Start: 
Things to Know Now: 
  • The primary concern is not only access but our students as whole persons/learners.  Please continue to provide flexibility and support as this experience may cause disruption to a student’s living situation, social supports and/or exacerbate existing physical or mental health impacts.  Remind students we figuring this out, too, and all in this together. 
  • Zoom platforms are accessible for many students, but if captioning is required for a student, this is not automatically enabled.  We will work with specific faculty on how to integrate captioning into virtual courses; guidance on this will be coming. 
  • Become familiar with Moodle and how to extend time on exams for individual learners if you are providing exams online.  Consider options such as alternative assignments or take-home exams.  The MAX Center can also assist in proctoring for exams that require remote proctoring via the AIM system as it has been in the past. 
  • Extensions of time/absence flexibility accommodations may change.  If your courses are becoming more discussion-based, it is important to communicate with students with accommodation on how this may impact previous course flexibility arrangements. 
  • When selecting new materials, try to find videos that are already captioned if possible–and check to make sure!   If you have videos that are not captioned, we can support you in that process via our AI staff and outside vendors.   Youtube and Vimeo videos may not always be captioned correctly, so please review them first. 
  • Ensure images can be made accessible to blind and low-vision students by providing captions or inserting alt text into the imageUse large, bold fonts on uncluttered pages with plain backgrounds and color combinations that are high contrast.  
  • Uploaded documents/reading should also be accessible.  This is a great resource for how to consider document accessibility. Macalester also has access to a documenter converter to assist in conversion to accessible materials. 
  • Consider activities that are alternatives to extensive screen time. For some students, migraines, chronic health or concussions make extensive screen time limited.   In these cases, students may need to listen to rather than always view, course content.
  • Offer adequate opportunities for practice to help students learn. Although we assume students are technology savvy,  some students have chosen Macalester because of our face to face and discussion-based pedagogy; this will be a significant change for them as well. 
  • We all may make some errors as we learn this new landscape–that’s okay!

Please know Disability Services is here to work with you and students on how to provide the best equal access for your courses. Accommodation plans may need to be adapted, or you may need support in problem-solving specific concerns.   We are here to support you in the move towards virtual learning, even if questions are not specifically related to a student with a disability.