How can you integrate accessibility into your syllabus?
When writing a course syllabus, faculty members can take explicit steps that take into account the abilities of the students that will be in their class, encourage students to discuss their disability with their instructor, and make the syllabus more accessible to students with disabilities. Faculty should:
- Make instructions and expectations clear regarding activities and assignments. Give students enough information about assignments so that they can begin to make plans for organizing their time to complete the work.
- Avoid creating PDF documents. Post syllabus content within LMS content pages (i.e., in HTML) and, if a PDF or other document format is desired (e.g., Microsoft Word), link to it as a secondary source of information.
- Use large, sans serif fonts on a plain background with high contrast between text and background.
- Use clear, consistent layouts and organization schemes for presenting content.
- Use headings, bulleted lists, and paragraph breaks to facilitate reading of large amounts of text.
- Structure headings and lists using style features built into the learning management system, Microsoft Word, etc.
- Provide concise text descriptions of content presented within images. Use descriptive wording for hyperlink text.
- To be more approachable, use first person and positive language.
- Encourage students to arrange to meet with you one-on-one and give them the choice of multiple ways to do so (e.g., in person, by phone, via email, using an conferencing system or bulletin board in the learning management system).
- Present content in multiple ways (e.g., use a pie chart to help convey information about grade distribution).
- Address a wide range of language skills as you write content (e.g., spell acronyms, define terms, avoid or define jargon).
- Include statements about your interest in ensuring your course is welcoming and accessible to all students and that you welcome feedback regarding accessibility issues, as well as the campus standard statement about where to obtain disability-related accommodations at your campus.
For more ideas, visit Tulane University's Accessible Syllabus Project, Equal Access: Universal Design of Your Syllabus, and What statement can I put on my syllabus for students with disabilities?. For for more information about accessible document formats, consult Creating Accessible Documents.