Faculty Guide When Working with Students with Disabilities Remotely

We hope this message finds you and your family members safe and well.                

As we move to “distance learning” for the rest of the semester, the Center for Student Accessibility (CSA) would like to remind you about the importance of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it relates to online classwork and exams. Please remember that accessibility is mandated by law under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act to make certain that all courses meet accessibility standards. This must remain top priority during this time of “distance learning.”

While the implementation of these measures for accessibility may be confusing or seem difficult, there are online guides and videos regarding Blackboard, links to which may be found below. Please also feel free contact our office at 718.982.2510 and leave a message or email us at csa@csi.cuny.edu. CSA staff will respond promptly.

  • Exam Accommodations 

Creating exceptions and adjusting time limits: Some students who are allowed extended time on tests (as per their documentation) can take tests on Blackboard. There is a timer feature in Blackboard that can be used to ensure that they receive the extended time they require without going over the amount of extended time that their documentation allows. Information on how to do this is online.

  • Materials and Exams

Make certain that your Blackboard site and posted materials are all accessible. Can a screen reader program read your Word files? Are your PDFs searchable? Learn about how to make your Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF documents accessible. This “Universal Design in Learning” link will show you how with links to individual guides and tutorials. This resource contains all you need to know about making your posted materials on Blackboard accessible.

  • Video Course Content

Any video content, whether pre-recorded or live-streamed, must be captioned for students with hearing impairments. If providing captions is not practical or possible, please provide a transcript of the video. The Center for Student Accessibility can also assist in getting videos captioned. Automatically generated captions are NOT a reliable alternative.  For captioning guidelines, please go online.

When using Skype or other live-streaming options for your course lectures, please keep in mind that a transcript must be provided for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.  It is best to give access to the Skype or streaming service to a Sign Language Interpreter or a CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) Provider. For this service, contact CSA or your department Chair.

  • Using Platforms Outside of Blackboard

Some departments utilize platforms that are more conducive to their programs when lecturing or giving exams.  It is important that these platforms are accessible to students with disabilities. Some features of these other platforms such as the “lockdown browsers” feature are not accessible to students with disabilities, therefore, much of their assistive technology programs will not be compatible. In this case, it is important to work with CSA to find alternatives.

We appreciate your cooperation in creating accessible instruction options for our students, and for your continued dedication to ensuring the success of our students in these trying and uncertain times. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our office at 718.982.2510 and leave a message or email us at csa@csi.cuny.edu.

By Center for Student Accessibility