Expectations of Faculty Contribution to Course Accessibility and Functionality
The Penn State Course Accessibility Guidelines identify the most prominent accessibility blockers along with methods to ensure accessible content. Techniques are identified as either:
- Fix/Add, meaning you (the instructor) should begin to address that issue proactively, or
- With Letter, meaning that you should be aware that the blocker must be addressed when an Academic Adjustment Letter is received from the Office for Disability Services.
The University provides the following guidelines for course accessibility:
- Instructors should proactively address closed captioning of Penn State produced videos used in their courses.
- Instructors should proactively address accessibility of Word and PowerPoint files, and web pages used in their courses.
- Instructors may opt to wait until an Academic Adjustment Letter is received to provide the long descriptions for complex images in documents and web-based content used in their courses. Such long descriptions are required for vision-impaired students.
- Attempting to enable closed captioning on any non-captioned video resources created outside of Penn State introduces complexities due to copyright concerns. An appropriate accommodation workflow will need to be defined when an Academic Adjustment Letter is received.
While the CLT unit provides instructional design and technical support for faculty within available resources, a goal of the Teaching & Learning Innovation Grant Partnership Program is to enable faculty to learn both the pedagogical and technical aspects involved in designing, developing, and delivering a quality online, hybrid, or web-enhanced course.
CLT staff will help faculty to learn the recommended best practices and workflows to result in a quality online, hybrid, or web-enhanced course.
Accessibility and Course Functionality are also standards of the Penn State Quality Assurance e-Learning Design Standards. To efficiently create an accessible course, best practices for accessibility should be incorporated while the instructor creates course materials, rather than retrofitted at the end. To achieve course functionality, the instructor needs to be well-versed in the technical aspects of their course. This includes creating quizzes, exams, discussion forums and similar digital activities within the learning management system.
The following efforts are expected of faculty who are a Teaching & Learning Innovation Grant Partnership Program recipient:
- Creating their own course assessments in the University's learning management system.
- While it is hoped the instructors will create all of their course assessments in the learning management system by themselves, they must create at least 50% of their course assessments (quizzes, exams, surveys) to meet the grant requirements.
- If CLT student support is available, student workers can contribute toward remaining captioning as part of their allotted 50 hours per TLI Grant Project. Otherwise the instructor is responsible for creating the remaining assessments.
- Avoiding PDF documents.
- If an instructor creates a PDF, they will provide the same information in an accessible format unless accessibility of the PDF document is verified by a screen reader. (Read about accessibility of PDF documents)
- Making sure that their documents (Word, PowerPoint, web pages) are accessible as they create them.
- While it is hoped the instructor will make sure all of course documents are accessible per Penn State Course Accessibility Guidelines, in order to meet grant requirements, they must retrofit at least 50% of existing documents for accessibility and ensure that 100% of newly created documents are accessible to screen readers.
- If CLT student support is available, student workers can contribute toward remaining captioning as part of their allotted 50 hours per TLI Grant Project. Any inaccessible documents which remain if/when an Academic Adjustment Letter is received will be addressed by the instructor.
- When required by a student with an Academic Adjustment Letter, long descriptions for complex images must be added to digital content. This process is completed either by the instructor or by a student with appropriate subject matter background (carried out under close collaboration with instructor.) The instructor is expected to verify that long descriptions are correct and useful. As part of a TLI Grant Project, CLT team will provide faculty with instructions for adding long descriptions. The instructor will manage implementation of long descriptions at their discretion, or when required in the future.
- Choosing tools and processes which make it possible to enable closed captioning on any video content they create for their course.
- The instructor is expected to learn how to caption their videos.
- The instructor is strongly encouraged to write scripts as part of the video creation process. This not only expedites the closed captioning process, but this practice supports a recommended workflow for creating concise, focused and effective instructional videos.
- While it is hoped the instructor will learn and complete the process of enabling closed captioning for all of their self-created videos (as per Penn State Course Accessibility Guidelines), they must complete closed captioning for at least 20% of any self-created instructional videos to meet the grant requirements.
- If CLT student support is available, student workers can contribute toward remaining captioning as part of their allotted 50 hours per TLI Grant Project. Any uncaptioned videos which remain if/when an Academic Adjustment Letter is received will result in the need to pay an external vendor to complete the caption files in a timely manner.
- Seeking captioned videos when incorporating instructional videos created by others outside of Penn State. This practice models a non-discriminatory attitude and assists learners beyond those who have self-identified with an Academic Adjustment Letter. Choosing video resources which are already captioned during the course design process eliminates the following workflow and associated complications which inhibit timely accommodation if an Academic Adjustment Letter should be received.
- The author of the non-PSU video will be contacted to see if they are willing to provide captioning in a timely manner.
- If the video's author does not respond in a timely manner, the instructor will be asked to identify an alternative captioned video.
- If no captioned alternative can be located, special circumstances may allow the University to caption someone else's copyrighted work and make it available only to the student's specific course section. This is a time-intensive and potentially expensive process.
- The instructor will cooperate with the Office of Disability Services and the Center for Learning & Teaching to accommodate the student in a timely manner.