Discussion Summary

What barriers do you face on your campus related to ensuring that online learning is accessible and usable for people with disabilities? What are some possible solutions?

Participants identified various barriers and solutions to those barriers, as shared below.

Barrier: Faculty feel overwhelmed with accessibility requirements.
Solution: Implement a plan for new faculty to receive training and then slowly bring in instructors of existing curriculum. Allot time for professional development for faculty to learn about accessibility.

Barrier: There is resistance to change due to time restraints, lack of knowledge and training opportunities, and siloed departments.
Solution: Gather advocates to promote accessibility. Integrate accessibility within regular work flows so that it is a part of everyone’s job instead of just one person’s job. Share resources with departments.

Barrier: There is a lack of training in accessibility in technology and knowledge of laws.
Solution: Consider offering compensation and other incentives to faculty to encourage them to teach accessibly, including credits or certifications.

Barrier: It is difficult to get faculty interested in and excited about accessibility.
Solution: Bring in a panel of students with disabilities to share their difficulties in accessing courses and suggest improvements that would increase that access. Create more incentives and general team promotion/gamification of accessibility.

Barrier: How do we find and remediate inaccessible course content, including making sure all videos have captions?
Solution: Provide resources (money and time) and assign responsibilities for making sure all content is made accessible. Review courses and hold faculty accountable for making their materials accessible.

Barrier: Faculty worry that providing accommodations (e.g., extra time on time-limited quizzes) will allow students to cheat.
Solution: Use technology that prevents cheating or create more open-ended tests and assignments where cheating is more difficult.

Barrier: Faculty perceive a conflict between “academic freedom” and “civil rights.”
Solution: Explain that the goal is to provide a level playing field without lowering standards or interfering with academic freedom.

Barrier: I’m not sure how to get buy-in from stakeholder groups to get accessibility tools and programs purchased or used.
Solution: Offer programs and tools to students first, getting the buy-in through a grassroots movement instead of top-down.

Barrier: Faculty won’t adopt accessible practices.
Solution: Use Ally to identify accessibility issues and reach out to specific faculty. Make the process friendlier and engaging. Repeat the message that students need accessible access.

Barrier: How can we get a broad acceptance of accessible practice when the need is perceived as low?
Solution: Make sure all new faculty learn accessible practices and allow them to champion the cause as well.

Barrier: Canvas always has technical glitches through the mobile app, but students may only have access through their phone.
Solution: Offer more access to technology through libraries or departmental units. Make sure at least some of these computers and other technologies have assistive technology on them as well.