Thank you for the support you give our students with visible and invisible disabilities. SAA is here to support you too! Please do not hesitate to email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with concerns, accessibility questions and implementing accommodations.
If you choose to offer a proctored online synchronous exam that you will be monitoring via video, SAA will proctor SAA students the exam via Zoom. SAA does not have any software or special programs to proctor exams taken on a student’s personal computer and/or in a remote location. We will use Zoom to provide a reasonable level of observation.
Students will do a virtual exam booking through Accommodate. Faculty can upload exams through the faculty module. You receive a confirmation email and be asked to respond to four questions:
Q: How can I ensure accessibility of courses in a remote teaching?
As with in-person teaching, instructors should strive to make their courses accessible to students while teaching remotely. Making classes accessible to all students regardless of ability makes for good teaching. The Office of Student Accessibility and Accommodation recommends that you consider the following methods of ensuring accessibility in a remote setting:
Q: Is COVID-19 something that falls under the accommodations rubric?
Generally speaking, faculty should treat students who contract COVID-19 the same ways they approach students who contract other longer-term illnesses (e.g., mono), providing opportunities for students to make up lost work (e.g., a one-time extension for an assignment or an opportunity for students to make up missed coursework). Keep in mind that cases of COVID-19 may fluctuate in severity over time and can sometimes worsen at about day 9 or later. If a student with COVID-19 asks for specific accommodations normally governed by SAA (e.g., extra time on exams, flexibility in attendance and assignment due dates) or can only remain in a course provided that certain accommodations are made, then those students should be referred to SAA for assessment for a temporary accommodation.
Q: How will faculty be notified of COVID-19-related accommodations? Will SAA use the same interface for any student having COVID-related accommodations as we use for other accommodations?
Yes, SAA will use the Accommodate platform, as usual, to notify faculty. The move to remote learning does not affect the fundamentals of the accommodations process. Students will contact you to discuss their accommodations in relation to your specific course, and you will approve Accommodation Letters on the Accommodate platform. It is expected that many of the accommodations commonly granted to students will continue to be provided in the remote setting (e.g., Extra time on tests and exams, flexibility in attendance or due dates etc.)
Q: How will test-related accommodations be handled in a remote setting?
Because of the wide range of time zones and student anxiety around technology failures during exams, we discourage the use of timed, synchronous exams during remote learning. Students who are anxious about being timed out or about Internet lags are unlikely to be able to perform to the best of their ability during a timed exam. There are many innovative, pedagogically creative suggestions from faculty at Puget Sound and from our Educational Technologists available on the Summer 2020 Educational Technology Workshop Series Canvas site, especially in Week 4: Creating, Monitoring, and Grading Online Assessments
To provide an environment for reduced distractions (for all students), we advise that you mute all students during the exam and ask them to use the private chat to send you any questions they may have during the exam.
Q: Can faculty require students to turn on cameras during class?
It is generally reasonable to set the expectation that students have their camera on during synchronous class meetings. Technology difficulties should be referred to Educational Technology. If a student wishes to turn off their camera due to a disability-related reason they should be referred to SAA.
Q: What are some considerations when asking students for feedback on their needs?
Faculty have asked about the possibility of giving students questionnaires at the beginning of class and what kinds of questions to ask students in order to elicit important information that could guide the structure of the class. Students welcome questions about their concerns, things they find particularly challenging and what helps them to function best in class. Asking students about their hobbies also gives many clues to their strengths, experiences and how they prefer to process information. I also suggest asking them what they are most concerned about.
It is not appropriate to solicit information about a specific diagnosis (e.g., do you have a learning difference), but it is appropriate to ask a general question like “How do you learn best?”
Q: How can I design my remote classes to be accessible to all students?
The transition to remote learning impacts different students in different ways. Some students may find that learning in a remote format allows them to better deal with their disabilities, while others may find them more challenging. While we are legally required to provide accommodations to students with disabilities who could not access our courses without accommodation, we should strive to make our classes accessible to all students (a universal design perspective aims to create an environment in which all students can thrive). The following are some general items of advice regarding remote instruction and accessibility.
Providing a consistent learning environment: Students like a predictable format and can become flustered if the instructor changes the structure or rules. At the start of the semester, the instructor should describe how the different components of the course cohere (accessing synchronous meetings, the Canvas page, office hours etc.), while preparing students for the possibility that some aspects of the course may change. It is also helpful to provide learning goals and outlines before each class.
Reducing Student Anxiety: Remote learning can add to student anxiety. What if I am late because of my internet connection? What if the instructor speaks too fast? Will the class be recorded? What if I do not understand a concept? What if I get stuck on the homework? It is helpful to address the possible “what ifs” upfront. For instance, in your syllabus and on the first day of class you can describe class policies surrounding technology (e.g., If a student cannot connect to the internet during a class session, does this count as an absence? etc.)
Being mindful of student mental health: It is possible that mental health concerns will increase among students due to the strains of the pandemic and economic disruption. Instructors should be cognizant of the special problems facing their students and put particular emphasis on maintaining communication in office hours and providing reassurance when appropriate. CHWS is also working remotely and students can be referred to it.
Providing an interactive learning experience: Some students who normally shy away from group discussions are reporting that classroom discussion helps them stay focused while learning remotely. If doing group work, try to provide students with clear instructions and guidelines.
Keeping students engaged online: Consider varying class presentations. For instance, breakout groups, outlines, diagrams, short videos, discussion, and question and answer periods.
A resource for faculty discussion and liaison on accessibility and accommodation issues is the SAA Faculty Advisory Board, chaired by Benjamin Tromly (email@example.com) in 2020-2021. The SAA Faculty Advisory Board works closely with Peggy Perno and is eager to respond to feedback and requests. As we progress through the semester things may come up that we have not anticipated, and we will continue to update this GoogleDoc. Please do not hesitate to give SAA feedback.
SAA/Faculty Advisory Board (This Page Requires a Puget Sound Login. Please use your credentials in the pop up.)
The mission of the SAA Faculty Advisory Board is to facilitate communication and promote common understanding between Office of Student Accommodation and Accessibility and faculty members, and to assist faculty in teaching, implementing accommodations, and understanding students with various disabilities. It does this by providing spaces and events where the perspectives and concerns of faculty and SAA can be discussed and creative solutions can be crafted. The committee will also discuss SAA policies and procedures for which faculty input is needed, including challenges that arise in the implementation of accommodations.