Faculty Resources

Thank you for your interest and support of students with disabilities at Texas Woman’s University. Faculty and staff play a pivotal role in the promotion of preparedness and inclusion in postsecondary education. The information in this section is designed to aid in the understanding of the issues that impact students and disabilities, the disability services process and the resources that may assist these students.

Creating Accessible Course Content

The following suggestions for policies, formatting, and quick tips can make TWU courses accessible. Making course content accessible can be easy to factor in during course construction. The National Center on Disability and Access to Education has cheatsheets for creating accessible content in various softwares. If you would like a more in-depth discussion on how to make your course as accessible as possible, check out Universal Design Learning for Higher Education, consult with Teaching and Learning with Technology, or feel free to set up an appointment with our office: 940-898-3835.

Technology in the Classroom

Although we understand the need to make sure students are not texting or otherwise occupied during class, banning all laptops and phones can negatively impact students with disabilities who rely on technology to have an equitable learning environment. Instead of banning, and therefore potentially outing students with disabilities for using their accommodation, consider the following:

  • Strongly discourage laptops and cell phones, but do not outright ban them
  • If students express the need to use technology during class, require that they sit in the first few rows
  • Have the students sign a laptop usage agreement with the understanding that they cannot do anything other than take notes

Course Content Formatting

We recommend the following font and size for accessible online content and PowerPoints for lectures:

  • A minimum of 12pt font
  • A font in the Sans Serif, Ariel, or Tahoma families
  • Bold, italicize, and underline important information rather than changing the color
  • High color contrast between slide color and slide text color

Avoid PDFs When Possible

Many PDF documents are not formatted correctly for screen readers, which reads the text out loud to a person who is blind or has low vision. If possible, avoid using PDFs and instead use .docx or HTML for accessible course information.

It is recommended that documents are created in Microsoft Office and formatted to be accessible first, then convert to PDF. PDFs will maintain accessible features if added in original creation.

Required Text Requests

Each semester, the University Bookstore sends out emails requesting the required texts for the course you teach for the upcoming semester. Ensuring that you submit your text requests in a timely manner can be vital to helping students with disabilities who need an alternate format of their texts. The quicker your required text lists are in, the sooner our office can convert these texts for our eligible students.

Academic Accommodation Letter

DSS registered students are required to fill out a course schedule each semester to renew their accommodations. Once the schedule has been submitted to DSS, faculty members and the student are emailed an accommodation notification that outlines the approved accommodations for the term.

Students are instructed to meet with faculty during office hours or contact faculty via email to discuss the implementation of approved accommodations. If you have questions regarding accommodations, please contact DSS. 

Letter Example

Academic Accommodation Letter

 

Exam Accommodations

Testing in DSS

Students are required to complete test requests 5 business days in advance. This allows time to reserve testing space, schedule proctors, and receive tests.

  • Students must take quizzes and exams at the same date and time scheduled in the course syllabus. Any re-scheduled exams require pre-approval from both the professor and Disability Services and may not be rescheduled during other class times.
  • Students cannot begin an exam more than 15 minutes early unless prior permission is granted by faculty.
  • Test accommodations are offered during DSS office business hours of 8:00 am - 5:00 pm, Monday-Friday.  
  • The extended time accommodation may require adjustment of exam administration time to allow student to test during DSS hours of operation.

DSS will request exams at least one week in advance. Please provide detailed information on how to proctor the exam, materials the student may or may not use, and who will receive the exam once complete. DSS will send faculty a reminder email the day before and the day of testing if we have not yet received the exam. Faculty may personally pick up exams, send staff to pick up exams, or have them delivered by DSS (electronically if preferred).

Online Exams

DSS encourages faculty members to add student’s extended time (if applicable) to all quizzes and exams at the beginning of the semester. For detailed instructions (with pictures) on how to add time in Canvas for students with extended time accommodations, check out Canvas’ How to Moderate a Quiz.

 

Video Captioning

Studies have shown that by showing videos with closed captions, students (hearing or deaf) performed better when assessed (Dallas, McCarthy & Long, 2016), as well as “improvement of comprehension of, attention to, and memory” of videos, (Gernsbacher, 2015). 98.6% of students find captions helpful (Linder, 2016).

Captions can easily be added to videos through free websites like Amara.org or YouTube.com, or by working with companies like 3Play Media and Rev.com. Auto-generated captions that are provided through YouTube, Google, or Panopto must be reviewed for accuracy prior to distribution to students.

Section 508 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that we are required to have closed captions on any video that we, as an institution, show to any TWU student and to the public. Section 508 Refresh expands the law in reference to accessibility standards issued by WCAG 2.0, “a globally recognized, technology-neutral standard for web content” (United States Access Board).

Texas state agencies and institutions of higher education are required to comply with Texas accessibility mandates (TGC 2054.451, 1 TAC 206, 1 TAC 213) to provide accessible media, which includes all videos that are shown in the classroom, on a learning management portal or to the public, (Texas Department of Information Resources).

DSS will happily work with you to review how to create captions for your videos. Please reach out to us at (940) 898-3835 for tips on how to create accessible videos.

Here are some resources if you would like more information:

Legal Obligations for Accessibility - UDL On Campus

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1

How and Why University Students Use Closed Captions

Beyond Accessibility: Video Captions Improve Learning Outcomes

 

Sign Language Interpreters

Sign Language/spoken English interpreters are highly skilled professionals that facilitate communication between hearing individuals and the Deaf or Hard of Hearing. All interpreters perform the same function in your class: to facilitate communication between you and your class and the student who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Tips for Faculty on Working with Interpreters in the Classroom

  • Look at the Deaf or Hard of Hearing person, not the interpreter when talking.
  • Speak directly to the Deaf or Hard of Hearing person, using first person speech (i.e., don't say, "Does she have her assignment?" but rather, "Do you have your assignment?").
  • The interpreter is there to facilitate communication. Do not ask him or her to proctor a test or pass out papers, as this makes it impossible to interpret at the same time.
  • Avoid private conversations with the interpreter or others in the presence of Deaf persons, as everything you say will be interpreted.
  • Speak naturally at a reasonable, modest pace - the interpreter will let you know if you need to speak slower. Also be aware that the interpreter will lag behind you a few words in order to hear a complete thought before signing it.
  • Consider including breaks. The interpreter periodically needs time to relax, as interpreting is taxing, both mentally and physically. Also, receiving information visually can be tiring and cause eye fatigue for the Deaf student.
  • If you dim the lights to use the overhead projector, make sure the lighting is adequate for the Deaf student to see the interpreter.
  • The interpreter will usually stand or sit near the faculty member. The student then has the option of viewing you, the interpreter, and any visual aids at any time.
  • If you know a student uses an interpreter and you want to catch him or her in the hall but do not see the interpreter, communicating with written notes is appropriate. For lengthier discussion give the student a note to call you so an appointment time with an interpreter can be arranged.

CART

CART stands for Communication Access Real Time. CART writers transcribe everything that is said in the classroom. They are not considered note takers. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) identifies real-time captioning (CART) as a means of effective communication for students with hearing related disabilities.

Tips for Faculty on working with CART providers

  • Look at the Deaf or Hard of Hearing person, not the CART writer when talking.
  • Speak directly to the Deaf or Hard of Hearing person, using first person speech (i.e., don't say, "Does she have her assignment?" but rather, "Do you have your assignment?").
  • Please repeat comments or questions from other students in class so that the CART writer can transcribe that information as well as your lecture.
  • The CART writer is there to provide real-time access to all verbal communication. Do not ask them to proctor a test or pass out papers, as this makes it impossible to transcribe at the same time.
  • The CART writer will sit near the student with the laptop positioned in the student’s line of sight.
  • The CART writer will type every vocalization that is made in the classroom, so avoid private conversations with the CART writer.
  • Consider including breaks. The CART writer periodically needs time to relax, as real-time captioning is taxing, both mentally and physically. Without adequate 'down' time, the CART provider could develop a Cumulative Trauma Disorder, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Also, receiving information visually can be tiring and cause eye fatigue for the Deaf student.
  • Speak naturally at a reasonable, modest pace - the CART writer will let you know if you need to speak slower. Also be aware that the CART writer will lag behind you a few words, in order to hear a complete thought before transcribing it.
  • Make sure there is adequate lighting. If you dim the lights to use the overhead projector, make sure the lighting is adequate for the deaf student to see the computer screen.
  • If the CART writer is remote, the Deaf/Hard of Hearing student will provide you with a microphone to wear during class.

Tips for Disability Awareness

Appropriate Language

  • People with disabilities are people first.The correct wording is to state the person first and then the disability; thus, you would say "the person who is visually impaired" rather than "the blind man or woman." This places the emphasis upon the person, not the disability.
  • Do not use the word handicapped.
  • Avoid labeling individuals as victims.
  • Avoid terms such as wheelchair bound. Wheelchairs provide access and enable a person to get around independently. People are not bound to wheelchairs; they use a wheelchair to assist them.
  • When it is appropriate to refer to an individual's disability, choose the correct terminology for the specific disability.
  • Avoid stereotyping persons with disabilities into the same category. Disabilities vary greatly from one to another and even two people with the same disability may have greatly different experiences and capabilities.

Confidentiality Strategies

  • Always speak to a student privately about their disability or accommodation(s). Avoid allowing other students or faculty to hear these conversations. This includes conversations regarding testing accommodations, class absences related to the disability, etc.
  • When helping to facilitate note-taking services, refer to the note-taking memo that has accompanied the student's Letter of Accommodations. Be sure not to announce the student's actual name.
  • Arrange for students to pick up copies of notes or class materials that have been put into an accessible format in a time and manner that protects their confidentiality.
  • When in doubt as to what to do to protect the student's right to confidentiality, ask the student how they would prefer something to be handled or contact Disability Services for Students.

Common Questions

Q: What if a student discloses they have a disability but is not registered with your office?

We ask that you refer students to DSS. We will work with the student to provide resources, application material, and set up an appointment. To receive accommodations in the classroom, students with disabilities must be registered with our office.

Q: Do I accommodate a registered DSS student for a request that is not on the Academic Accommodation Letter?

Professors are not required or encouraged to accommodate student requests outside of their approved accommodations through our office. Refer them to their DSS coordinator to update the services they need.

Q: If I do not have a Deaf/Hard of Hearing student in my class, do I have to caption videos?

Section 508 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that we are required to have closed captions on any video that we, as an institution, show to any TWU student and to the public. Section 508 Refresh expands the law in reference to accessibility standards issued by WCAG 2.0, “a globally recognized, technology-neutral standard for web content” (United States Access Board).

Texas state agencies and institutions of higher education are required to comply with Texas accessibility mandates (TGC 2054.451, 1 TAC 206, 1 TAC 213) to provide accessible media, which includes all videos that are shown in the classroom, on a learning management portal or to the public, (Texas Department of Information Resources).

DSS will happily work with you to review how to create captions for your videos. Please reach out to us at (940) 898-3835 for tips on how to create accessible videos.

Q: Are students allowed to have animals in class as an accommodation?

It depends on the purpose of the animal. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that services animals are allowed to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go. Faculty and staff may ask only two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Faculty and staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task. A service dog in training has the same rights to access as trained service dogs in Texas. A student cannot bring their Emotional Support Animal (ESA) to class with them without an accommodation approved by DSS. A student’s ESA as an accommodation will be stated on their Academic Accommodation Letter.

Q: I received an Academic Accommodation Letter, but the accommodations do not apply to my class. What do I do?

We realize that every accommodation may not be applicable for each course. Consult with DSS staff to discuss the appropriateness of approved accommodations for the specific design and objectives of your course.  

Q: Should I ask the student what their disability is to better help accommodate them?

No. Students may submit their verification to Disability Services for Students without disclosing to their professors the specific nature of their disability. Upon a student's request for accommodations, the university and the professor are required by law to appropriately accommodate the student in a timely manner. While students are not required to share their specific disability information, students are encouraged to discuss their specific accommodation needs with their instructors.

Q: What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, job, activity, or facility that enables a qualified individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity to attain the same level of performance or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges as are available to an individual without a disability. Some common academic accommodations include extended time on tests, use of peer note takers, use of computer with spell check, and provision of sign language interpreters.

Q: How does a person become eligible to receive accommodations?

To become eligible, a person must have a documented disability and inform the University that he or she is requesting accommodations based on that disability.

A student must:

  1. Contact Disability Services for Students
  2. Provide specific documentation of the disability from a qualified professional
  3. Consult with an coordinator in Disability Services for Students to determine appropriate and reasonable accommodations.

Q: Who determines the accommodation?

Disability Services for Students staff determine the accommodations using:

  • Documentation of the disability from qualified professionals provided by the student
  • Information gathered from an intake process, and information from history of the disability

The determination of reasonable accommodations considers the following:

  • Classroom or physical barriers,
  • The array of accommodations that might remove the barriers,
  • If the person has access to the course, program, service, activity, or facility without accommodations, and
  • If essential elements of the course, program, service, activity, or facility are compromised by the accommodations.

Q: What if a student with a disability is failing?

Treat the student as you would any student who is not performing well in your class. Invite the student to your office hour to discuss reasons for the failing performance and what resources the student may use to improve. Encourage the student to see DSS staff to discuss some additional strategies to improve their grades.

Q: Do I need to alter my teaching style with an interpreter?

Interpreters are professionals who facilitate communication between hearing individuals and people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The role of the interpreter is similar to that of a foreign language translator: to bridge the communication gap between two parties.

Some adaptations in presentation style may be helpful when using a sign language interpreter. The interpreter will let you know if you need to slow down your rate of speaking or if they need you to repeat any information. A desk copy of the book is especially helpful for the interpreter when the class is using examples or doing exercises from the text.

Q: What can I expect if there is an interpreter in my classroom?

Interpreters are bound by the code of ethics developed by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, which specifies that interpreters are to serve as communication intermediaries who are not otherwise involved.

When an interpreter is present, speak directly to the Deaf or Hard of Hearing person rather than to the interpreter, and avoid using phrases such as “tell them” or “ask them."

Speak normally, noting that there may be a lag time between the spoken message and the interpretation.

When referring to objects or written information, allow time for the translation to take place. Replace terms such as "here" and "there" with more specific terms, such as "on the second line" and "in the left corner."

In a conference room or class environment, the Deaf student and interpreter will work out seating arrangements, with the interpreter usually located near the speaker.

Inform the interpreter in advance if there is an audiovisual element in a presentation, so arrangements can be made for lighting and positioning.

In sessions that extend longer than one hour, the interpreter may require a short break to maintain proficiency in interpreting.

Page last updated 10:49 AM, August 15, 2019