In Module 8 of this training series, we looked at a number of different student support services that are offered by the college. In your syllabus, you should make your students aware of these various services.
What Should Be In Your Syllabus?
You should include in your syllabus (or other course documents) some information about disability policies for LCCC, ANGEL, and how your course complies with the requirements for accessibility.
For Lorain County Community College, I include the following statement in my syllabus:
If you have a disability that will affect your performance in this class please let me know. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Office for Special Needs for support in implementing reasonable accommodations for their disabilities. The Office for Special Needs is located in College Center, 234 and can be reached by the following means: Phone: 440-366-4058/ TDD 440-366-4135/Fax 440-366-4652; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For ANGEL, I provide instructions for how to set up the 508 button settings for alternative viewing settings and I include the following statement in my syllabus indicating the ANGEL accessibility policy:
In every aspect of ANGEL we have implemented all sections of the World Wide Web Consortiums Guidelines for Accessibility. Specifically, here are some of the highlights of what we have done to ensure accessibility:
- Ensured proper rendering of pages when tables are linear.
- Made sure appropriate No Frames text was provided in framesets.
- Provided a no frames option in which additional navigation elements are provided.
- Provided a non-frames non-auto-refreshing mode for a Chat tool.
- Ensured that all base functionality is accessible.
- Provided a menu-driven alternative to the data presented in our Learner Profile Java Applet.
- Used appropriate alternate text for all images.
- Limited use of CSS to Level 1 only to avoid problems with positioning of elements.
- Provided customizable style sheets that can be extended to include aural style sheet information to provide auditory indicators as to the context of the information being read (using screen reader software)
- Use appropriate tags to indicate navigation menus so they can be skipped as a unit when using screen readers.
For my own course, I have the following statement:
There are a few documents in this course that are written in PDF format. The Lessons and Labs have been written using a software program known as SoftChalk that will run directly in ANGEL with no additional software needed. Both of these formats are ADA compatible with reader devices. The pictures in the Lesson and Lab exercises have also been given additional labeling. Some of the Lesson activities can be further enhanced (for those in need) by clicking on the "keyhole" at the upper left side of the activity.
This course is very visual and the lab quizzes will require those visuals for testing. The pictures for testing will not have additional labeling. Although this course is as compatible as possible with disability requirements, the course may not be suitable for those with severe visual impairments.
Office For Special Needs
If you have students come to you indicating that they have a learning or physical disability that will interfere with their success in the course, you should refer them to the Office for Special Needs for a consultation. The Special Needs office is located in CC 234. The Special Needs office will help determine if the student is entitled to additional learning accommodations and/or counsel them on ways to overcome issues (e.g. test anxiety, time management, accessibility, etc.) that may be interfering with their academic success.
The Special Needs website has a great deal of helpful information for students of all learning abilities. Much of the site is geared towards students who have some type of learning or physical disability, but there is some additional information that will be helpful to any student, including the Special Needs student who has yet to be identified as such.
Verified Individualized Services Accommodations Document
If the student is entitled to special accommodations, the Special Needs office will issue them a Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations (VISA). The VISA is a document that describes the special accommodations to which a student is entitled. This may include extra time for tests, note-taking service, interpreters, and access to distraction-free testing, among others. In order for this accommodation to be listed on that VISA, the student had to have their learning or physical disability certified by a trained professional.
If you have a Special Needs student in your class, they should show you their VISA or provide you with a copy of that document. Faculty are only obligated to provide accommodation for any or all of the items listed on the VISA that the student asks for. If the student does not ask for an accommodation, you would not be expected to provide that for the student. I expect the student to ask me for what they need. I do not ask them what they want me to provide.
Most Special Needs students will merely require additional time for testing. As noted in Module 8, this can be accomplished in several different ways:
Proctored exams may be given in your "live portion" of the blended course or can be given at the LCCC Testing Center. In either case, the best solution is send your test over to the Testing Center with instructions to provide the student with the appropriate amount of testing time (generally 1-1/2 times the regular testing time). You will need to complete a cover sheet with all the information to accompany the test when you send it to the Testing Center.
If the student is also entitled to a separate room for his or her exam, it is the student's responsibility to make arrangements with the Special Needs office for that room. You will still submit the test to the Testing Center and the Special Needs office will obtain the test from the Testing Center.
If your tests are given online, then you can adjust the ANGEL settings for your particular Special Needs student. To do this:
- Click on the Grades/Manage tab and then on Teams:
- Click on Add a Team at the top of the page.
- Type in a title (could be student's name or Special Needs or whatever you want) and then click on Save.
- To add a Member, click on the little box next to the individual's name -- if you have several Special Needs students who all are entitled to the same accommodation, they can all be grouped into the same team. Now click on Add Selected.
- Now you must go to EACH of the testing assessments in your course and make the necessary adjustments for times:
- Click on the Settings link for the test and then on the Access tab at the top of the page.
- In the Team List in the center of the screen you should see the Team name that you entered earlier. Click on that team name.
- In the custom settings box that will appear, make the change to the Time Limit box. This will override the time setting for the designated group of students, while leaving the other test settings as they were established for the class. Click on Save when you are done.
- When the designated students click on the link for the test, the system will default to the override settings, allowing him or her to have the additional time to which he or she is entitled.
Some students may be entitled to additional accommodations such as note-taking services or use of special equipment (e.g. a calculator). If the student is entitled to such accommodations, these will be listed on the VISA document. If you have any questions regarding accommodations or your ability to provide these, I recommend that you contact the Office For Special Needs. Their phone number is 440-366-4058 or you can email them at email@example.com.