Faculty Handbook Chapter 14: Working with CAR Students
If you have any questions or concerns regarding students’ accommodations or working with a CAR student, please feel free to contact their primary Accommodation Specialist or the CAR office.
As the course instructor, it is incumbent upon you (and any co-instructors and/or teaching assistants) to create an educational experience that is inclusive of, and accessible to, people with a wide range of disability access requirements. CAR is prepared to assist you by sending a Letter of Accommodation (LOA), and we are a willing resource when questions and concerns arise. Therefore, at a minimum, it is the instructor’s responsibility to respond to accommodation notifications in a timely manner. However, we encourage you to begin thinking about access long before the semester begins and notifications are sent.
Although accommodations are crucially important, they’re not the only way to make courses accessible to a wide array of learners. A better practice than solely relying on accommodations from CAR is to consider the access requirements of people with disabilities while designing your course. In recent decades, this concept has been formalized under a number of names such as Universal Design for Instruction, Universal Curricular Design, and Universal Design for Learning. While we will discuss Universal Design in greater detail in the following sections, here are some readily employable suggestions:
- Start with your syllabus: Make sure your syllabus is clear, comprehensive, and broadly accessible. The Equity and Excellence in Higher Education: Universal Course Design website offers a number of helpful suggestions for improving the accessibility of your syllabus.
- Consider your pedagogic priorities: Do you discourage the use of memory aids during tests because memorization is important, or because that is how you were taught? If you are more concerned with the application of concepts and ideas, maybe memory aids can be permitted (or provided in the body of an exam), thereby reducing the need for exceptional practices. Many other applications of this process are possible, including the provision of copies of lecture notes/slides, additional time for exams, and offering multiple means of evaluation.
- Encourage participation in the accommodation process: Be sure your syllabus includes a statement about disability that informs students of your willingness to provide reasonable accommodations and encourages them to work with CAR to inform you of their accommodation eligibility.
- Distribute accessible electronic copies of course materials: Electronic materials are useful to students with diverse disabilities because they can be saved and accessed as needed, and some electronic formats (e.g. pdf documents) are compatible with screen reading software. However, electronic materials that are image-based files (e.g. jpeg and non-optical character recognition [OCR] pdf files) are not widely accessible.