Access Center- Student Disability Support Services
The Access Center welcomes questions and collaboration opportunities with universtiy staff and departments. Our staff can serve as a resource in ensuring all students have equitable access to information, programming, and services at the university. Below is some general information for staff to aid in university efforts for accessibility.
What is Universal Design for Learning?
Many recent principles for designing instruction and instructional environments to address student diversity have been based on the principles of Universal Design (UD). UD represents a cohesive approach to promoting inclusion, one that considers, on an ongoing basis, how curriculum, instruction, and assessment can be designed to meet the learning needs of the greatest number of students without compromising academic rigor. The concept of universal design offers a more comprehensive approach to good teaching.
From a neurological standpoint, people learn in distinct ways regardless of their backgrounds. People recognize, strategize, and affectively process information using many different strategies, and no two people have the same strengths and weaknesses in their learning styles. In short, people do not have one general learning aptitude, but many learning abilities; thus, a disability or challenge in one area may be compensated for by extraordinary abilities in another.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an instructional method that can address the diverse learning needs in today’s classroom. The framework of UDL consists of instructional approaches that provide students with choices and alternatives in the materials, content, tools, context, and supports they use. The three basic principles of UDL are: multiple means of representation and presentation, multiple means of strategic engagement, and multiple means of expression. Multiple means of representation refers to multi-modal teaching, relying on a mixture of mediums (e.g., lecture, video, group discussions) to relay concepts. Multiple means of strategic engagement refers to maximizing student learning through motivation and relevancy so students have opportunities to interact with and learn the content. Lastly, multiple means of expression allows students to demonstrate their learning through multiple assessment opportunities (e.g., multimedia projects instead of written papers, or three quizzes and a project instead of one final exam).
The UDL framework challenges educators to rethink the structure of their curriculum and empowers them with the flexibility to serve a diverse population of learners.
UDL in HigherEd, http://udloncampus.cast.org/page/udl_landing
Applications of Universal Design in Postsecondary Education, http://www.washington.edu/doit/programs/center-universal-design-education/applications-universal-design-postsecondary-education
When faculty and staff use disability etiquette, students with disabilities feel more welcome and comfortable as a member of the MSU Denver community.
Below is some guidance when interacting with students with disabilities.
- Just because someone has a disability, don’t assume they need help. If the setting is accessible, people with disabilities can usually get around fine. Students with disabilities want to be treated as independent people. Offer assistance only if the person appears to need it or asks for it. If the individual does want help, ask how before you act.
- When talking with an individual with a disability, speak directly to that person rather than through a companion or interpreter.
- When introduced to a person with a disability, it is appropriate to offer to shake hands. People with limited hand use or who wear an artificial limb can usually shake hands. (Shaking hands with the left hand is an acceptable greeting.)
- When meeting a person with a visual disability, always identify yourself and others who may be with you. When conversing in a group, remember to identify the person to whom you are speaking.
- When students with disabilities ask for an approved accommodation from the Access Center, it is not a complaint. It shows they feel comfortable enough in your class to ask for what they need. If they get a positive response, they will feel welcomed and comfortable in your class.
- People with disabilities are the best judge of what they can or cannot do. Don’t make decisions for them about participating in any activity. Depending on the situation, it could be a violation of the ADA to exclude people because of a presumption about their limitations.
- Use person first language such as "student with a disability" rather than "disabled student". Also use terms like "accessible parking" instead of "handicapped parking".
- Listen attentively when you're talking with a person who has difficulty speaking. Be patient and wait for the person to finish, rather than correcting or speaking for the person. If necessary, ask short questions that require short answers, a nod or shake of the head. Never pretend to understand if you are having difficulty doing so. Instead, repeat what you have understood and allow the person to respond. (You may ask them to spell the word if you don't understand them.)
- When talking to an individual who uses a wheelchair, grab a chair and sit at their level. If that’s not possible, stand at a slight distance, so that they’re not straining their neck to make eye contact with you.
- If the service counter in your department is too high for a wheelchair user to see over, step around it to provide service.
- If the person with a visual disability is using a service animal, walk on the side opposite the dog.
- Avoid the following behavior around a Service Animal or Service Animal in Training
- Talking, whistling, cooing, or feeding the animal
- Petting or asking to pet
- Asking the handler the following questions
- "What is your disability?"
- "What is your dog's name?"
- "Can you show me your dog’s training certification?"
- "Can you have your dog demonstrate the task he is trained to provide?"
- Remember that individuals with disabilities have families, jobs, hobbies, likes and dislikes, problems and successes, just like everyone else. While the disability can be an integral part of who they are, it alone does not define them. Don’t make them into disability heroes or victims. Treat them as individuals.
The Access Center works closely with the Instructional Accessibility Group (IAG) within the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design (CTLD) to support faculty in creating inclusive courses. The IAG is an excellent source for information and training on creating accessible materials. Their website hosts a wide variety of helpful guides, as well as a calendar of trainings and workshops.
Visit the IAG website here: https://www.msudenver.edu/ctld/programs/instructionalaccessibility/
When using audio or video content in your course, captioning provides an alternative mode of access for students. When selecting media for use in your course(s), it is important to keep in mind that the process of creating captions requires extra time to complete as compared to other forms of content. Care should be taken to ensure adequate enough time for captions to be in place by the time the media is used in the course.
Many video conferencing platforms provide options to add captioning through automated speech recognition (often referred to as ASR or auto-captioning). While ASR has improved greatly in recent years, it still lacks the same level of accuracy as human-generated methods. Because of this, ASR captions are not sufficient enough on their own to satisfy federal captioning requirements.
If you are recording your own media content, you can utilize the YuJa tool to create captions for it. While YuJa does utilze ASR for its initial processing, it also allows you to review and edit those captions to ensure they meet the necessary accuracy requirements.
For additional information on how to use YuJa, consult the Multimedia Accessibility guides from the Instructional Accessibility Group (IAG): https://www.msudenver.edu/ctld/programs/instructionalaccessibility/accessibilityguidestutorialsandreferencepages/multimediaaccessibility/
Captioning Pre-recorded media
If you intend to use pre-recorded media in your course, such as a film on DVD, that does not already have captions available, you will need to contact ITS for assitance. You can call the ITS HelpDesk (303-352-7548), or complete the Media Digitization Request form: https://www.msudenver.edu/technology/digitizemedia/.
Pre-recorded videos from external sites such as YouTube can vary in terms of caption availability and accuracy. For assitance with these cases, contact either ITS or IAG.