COVID-19 Instructor FAQs

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Instructor FAQs

Q: As I am adapting my course materials for online instruction, what should I be considering with regards to disability access? How do I best support my students? 

We recognize that this transition to online only course content will be challenging for instructors, students, and the University community as a whole. We appreciate your patience as we all adapt. Please keep in mind that some students may encounter disability-related barriers with online instruction or assessment. This will require collaboration with DSS to address and reduce these barriers (e.g. students who use assistive technology, students with medical limitations on screen usage).

If you have students in your course who are utilizing accessible media, please notify DSS. DSS is proactively working with instructors of Deaf/Hard of Hearing students to ensure captioning for videos and/or arranging interpreting/transcribing services for real-time class meetings. We are also working proactively with instructors of blind and dyslexic students to discuss accessibility tips for course documents and materials.

Consider the unique experience of disabled students

  • Moving to online only will represent a barrier to many students with disabilities. Some students do not have the technology needed at home.
  • Students who have not disclosed disabilities may struggle with the change in format. Refer new students to DSS.
  • Students on the Autism spectrum may struggle to learn a new routine and will need extra support.
  • Provide flexibility and understanding as this experience may cause disruption to the student’s home life and available resources– which may negatively impact a student’s disability symptoms.   
  • The stressors we all feel will especially tax students with Mental Health conditions and they may experience a worsening of symptoms which will also impact executive functioning.
  • Recognize that some students with chronic illness, immunity conditions, and similar disabilities may have to be out of school longer than other students. Use professional judgement and flexibility in responding to such requests.
  • Requiring synchronous meetings could be difficult for some DSS & Achieve students. Some students with disabilities find online learning daunting, taxing their ability to process and attend to information. Unless in person meetings are required due to accreditation, limit the addition of synchronous class meetings for courses that are not already set-up as synchronous.

Tips for accessible design

Below are some tips to keep in mind as you are creating online course content (some information adapted from DO-IT): 

  • If a lecture is the preferred mode of instruction, record brief, one concept, lecture videos or podcasts. Use auto captions, unless otherwise instructed by DSS to submit for formal captioning process.
  • Provide notes or transcript of your lectures.
  • Use clear, consistent layouts and organization schemesfor presenting content, and make instructions and expectations clear for activities, projects, and assigned reading.  
  • Offer outlines, scaffolding tools, and adequate opportunities for practiceto help students learn. 
  • When selecting new materials, try to find videos that are already captioned, and articles that are available in a text-searchable format(meaning you can highlight and search the text within the document; click here for an example).  
  • Images can be made accessible to blind and low-vision students by providing captions or inserting alt text into the image. Use large, bold fonts on uncluttered pages with plain backgrounds and color combinations that are high contrast.  
  • Discussion boards can be difficult for students some students with disabilities. Consider assignments for points, or allow assignments in lieu of using discussion boards for all possible points.

Q: How will exam accommodations work? Will DSS proctor online exams?  

  • DSS will not proctor exams while the University’s instruction remains online only. All exams should be administered online or through other remote assessment methods by faculty (i.e. phone or chat discussion assessing content knowledge). Consider alternate ways to assess knowledge—brief assignments or notes
  • Extended time on exams as an accommodation generally only applies to traditional, time-limited exams.
  • Most students will not be returning to campus, they shouldn’t be made to find in-person assistance to take an exam. It will be difficult for many students who do not return to find a proctored exam location—and may compromise some student’s safety.
  • Lockdown Browser renders most accessible technology useless, such as screen readers for the blind. Some students may not be able to use D2L independently when taking an exam. Consider an alternate assignment which is no more burdensome than studying for an exam.
  • Allow multiple exam attempts, consider extending the normal time limit for all students, but remember to extend for disabled students as prescribed by their accommodation letter.
  • If you replace an exam with an assignment as an accommodation, it should be no more burdensome than studying for an exam. You may require an output, but it should not reflect more work than taking an exam.
  • If you decide to offer alternative means of assessment (e.g. essays, non-timed exams, project work), then a student’s extended time may no longer be applicable. We encourage you to speak with registered students if that is the case.
  • Please communicate with your students to discuss their exam accommodations in your courses. DSS is available to instructors and students to consult. 

Q: How do I give students their extended time for online quizzes/exams? 

Contact CTE for instructions on extending time in D2L.

Q: Does this affect Attendance and Assignment Extension Modification Agreements?  

Completed agreements will be honored, though reasonable modifications to the structure of the agreements may be needed with the shift to online instruction. Students with agreements should be contacting you to discuss any additional barriers, if any, presented by changes to the course format. DSS is available to instructors and students to consult.