March 19, 2020
Dear Faculty Member,
You are receiving this email because you have one or more students with disabilities/chronic medical conditions enrolled in your courses who receive accommodations.
As of March 23, course information will be delivered online. We understand this change will impact all students, and while most students (with and without disabilities) will adapt easily, there will be some students who will be significantly impacted.
For some students for whom learning and demonstrating knowledge in the online environment creates new barriers, the nature of accommodations will likely change. As we at the Access Center are made aware of these challenges, the students’ Access Advisors will communicate with you as quickly as possible either by sending an updated accommodation letter and/or by contacting you via phone/email to discuss alternate accommodations. Together we can discuss what is possible to remove or lessen the barriers students face in this new learning environment.
As you transition your courses to distance delivery, we send you the following important information as it relates to disability accommodations:
- Extended time: Faculty are responsible for extending time in the online environment. We advise faculty to review each student’s specific time extension accommodation (e.g. 1.5X, 2.0X, etc.) and adjust accordingly. To access your students' accommodation information quickly, please log into the Faculty Portal.
- If you have a student needing extended time, refer to How to Set Test Exceptions in Blackboard Learn for a brief tutorial.
- We have advised students to NOT begin their exams unless they can determine that time has been extended to meet their accommodations. If time has not been exteneded, students have been advised to contact their instructors and the Access Center ASAP prior to beginning their exam. Faculty will need to extend/reopen the exam for students in these instances.
When Online Proctored Exams Present Barriers:
Prior to COVID 19, the following accommodations/situations have required onsite proctoring. However, the Access Center is now closed for on-site proctoring, until further notice.
- When students use Memory Aids/Reader/Scribe/Calculator
- When virtual proctoring presents barriers
- When students need paper exams
In the event that an exam is proctored by a third party company (e.g. Proctorio), an Access Advisor will contact faculty to discuss how best to accommodate students who have these particular accommodations. Faculty are also encouraged to reach out to the Access Center with their questions.
In the event that Proctorio is used, faculty may choose to proctor a student with these specific accommodations through Zoom. In this case, faculty would need to create a separate exam instance, outside of Proctorio, for the student who has an accommodation. This will allow the student to bypass the automated Proctorio service. For Zoom assistance contact AOI at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: The Access Center is unable to offer proctoring services through Zoom.
Exam Format Recommendations:
We understand the recommendations we make below may or may not be reasonable for your courses. We offer these suggestions to reduce barriers/obstacles regarding high stakes testing in the online environment.
- To give non-proctored exams. Hold students to the honor code.
- To offer open-resource exams (access to notes/books) that would be open for a day or longer. This would alleviate issues with virtual proctoring, extension of time, locating an onsite proctor due to online barriers, information processing speed, or heightened anxiety with processing information in the online environment, etc.
- To assess students’ knowledge in different ways: e.g. short answer/response papers/essay exams (allowing the use of resources) instead of multiple-choice exams.
Learning and Accessing Information in the Online Environment:
Most students will easily adapt to the new distance delivery methods. This will not be the case for all students. Some students may need extended time to adequately process information that is now delivered electronically. Should this be the case, your student’s Access Advisor will contact you. Reminder: All students must be able to access information. The Tool Kit for Extended Distance Delivery may be a helpful place to begin.
Adopt Universal Design Practices:
As you transition your courses to online, we encourage you to embrace the tenants of universal design. We offer the following link from AOI:
To get started, review the Tool Kit for Extended Distance Delivery. For general assistance with technology as you transition to online course delivery, please contact AOI at email@example.com and Distance Instruction Tools for more assistance. For questions regarding assistive technology as it relates to accommodations, contact Kyle Gonzalez, Assistive Technology Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We encourage you to use the Faculty Portal feature in MyAccess. This feature allows faculty to quickly identify the students in their specific courses who receive accommodations and what those accommodations are. This eliminates the need to sort through multiple emails that were sent over several months. Below is the link to the Faculty Portal and tutorials on how to use it.
In closing, we understand this is a stressful time for faculty as well as students. Our role is to assist you in meeting the needs of your students with disabilities as the university transitions to online delivery of courses. We understand there are barriers not yet known—but together, with patience and flexibility, we will meet the needs of our students. We look forward to working with you. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.
Director, Access Center