Hints for Making Instructional Materials Accessible

Use this checklist as a guide to meet students’ needs for accessible materials in a timely way.

  1. In general
    • Step at a time – Don’t try to cover everything at once, e.g., this semester focus on the syllabus; next semester look at your assignments. Plan your transition over time. Build on your successes.
    • Identify needs – Ask students to identify their needs (in private) early on so you can prioritize your efforts for that semester.
    • All students benefit – Accessible course materials help all students.
    • What Can I Do?.
  2. Textbooks and course readers
    • Full reading list (including specific chapters/pages) - Make all the readings available to students early in the registration process in order to assist the timely conversion of materials for students who need alternate formats.
    • International Standard Book Number – Include the ISBN of any textbooks on your syllabus to facilitate searching for textbooks online and locating alternate formats.
    • Course reader alternatives – Make articles available electronically via your passworded course web page or Moodle page whenever possible.
    • Printed course readers - Submit materials in a clean, readable format (including full citation) to your copy shop with enough time to secure copyright permissions and to be converted to alternate formats.
    • Low- or no-cost alternatives to standard textbooks - Contact the Faculty Center for suggestions.
  3. Syllabi and Handouts
    • Syllabus - Create your syllabus using the structural markup (e.g., stylesheets), for formatting and styles so that students using assistive technology, such as text-to-speech software, can effectively access the information. Contact the Faculty Center (1st floor of the Library) for assistance.
    • Template – The Accessible Course Syllabus Template is a starting point.
    • Universal Design for Learning – Consult the UDL Syllabus Rubric for ideas.
    • Upload your syllabus - Make your accessible syllabus available to all your students by uploading it to your Moodle course. Create it in Moodle as an html page for best accessibility.
    • Reading assignments - Include all of the readings in the syllabus. Waiting to assign readings week-by-week makes it very difficult to get the readings converted in time.
    • Word and PDF documents - SSU’s Accessible Technology Initiative site for more information on making Word and PDF documents accessible.
    • Discuss with students - Include a statement on your syllabus inviting students to discuss individual learning needs with you in private.
    • Reasonable accommodations - Contact Disability Services for Students.
  4. Moodle / Learning Management System
    • Individual instructional materials – In addition to your course web page & syllabus, work on making all your assignments and exercises accessible, perhaps updating one each semester.
    • Naming conventions – Be clear and consistent throughout your Moodle course with how you name and organize your syllabi, assignments, readings, etc.
    • Peer editing activities - If students are required to participate in peer-editing, are the files they are sharing with one another accessible? Try providing a template or pre-formatted form for students to use for peer-editing assignments.
    • Self-help resources – If students are creating content, consider a training plan or link to self-help resources on creating accessible content.
    • Extended time for quizzes – If a student has an accommodation that requires extended time for quizzes, assign the student to the role of “Quiz user unlimited time.”
    • Quiz in another format - Do you have a plan to provide this accommodation, if needed?
    • Establish a plan - If your content is not fully accessible to a student with a disability who is enrolled in your course, provide an equal and timely alternative method to access content housed in your Moodle course (e.g. syllabus, handouts, discussion threads, video etc.).
  5. PowerPoint
    • Accessible PPT documents - Check SSU’s Accessible Technology Initiative site for more information on making Powerpoint documents accessible.
    • Multiple formats - Consider distributing your PowerPoint files in multiple formats to support various student needs (e.g., notes, handouts, slides or PPT).
    • Other presentation tools – If you use other tools, such as Prezi, check to see if they are accessible, or can be made accessible.
  6. DVD/VHS/Audio/Course Streaming/Podcasting
    • Video and audio presentations - Check to see if the DVDs, videotapes, compact discs, video podcasts, YouTube, and other video & audio formats are available with either closed or open captioning. If not, is there a transcript? Consider alternatives.
    • Create a plan - If media is not accessible, create a plan so that all students can have access to the same information in a timely manner.
    • Captioning and transcription - Ask at IT about captioning and transcription services if a student with a disability needs to access uncaptioned content. Submit your request for captioning well in advance of the date you plan to use the materials (minimum 2 weeks turnaround). Funds are limited.
    • Accommodations - If captioning or transcription of video or audio materials is not feasible in a timely manner, contact Disability Services for Students to discuss possible accommodations.
    • Finding captioned films - Check the Library’s catalog to see if the library owns a copy of the material; for example, the catalog record will state, “closed captioned.” You can also search the catalog for “Video recordings for the hearing impaired”. The Library also has several databases that include streaming video and audio with closed captions or transcripts. 
    • Course Streaming / Podcasting Tools - Check with Video Services in IT for availability of any lecture capture technology that will record instructors' lectures including video, audio, desktop activity, software demonstrations, document camera projections, etc.
  7. Internet Resources
    • Websites, blogs, wikis, etc. - Check to see if the Internet resources you plan to use in class are accessible for students. For more information see SSU’s Web Site Accessibility.
    • Make a plan - If the Internet resources are not accessible, do you have a plan to make these resources available in an alternative format so that all students can have access to the same information?
    • Strategies - Contact the SSU Web Office or Disability Services for Students to discuss strategies.
  8. Pedagogical Considerations
    • Universal Design for Learning (UDL) - a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.
    • Framework - UDL provides a framework for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather a more flexible approach to teaching and learning.
    • Intent - The intent of UDL is to help faculty proactively consider how to design and develop course materials and instructional practices that support all learners, including those who learn differently.
    • Benefits - Modifying our instructional practices to support accessibility often benefits all students.
  9. From Where I Sit
    • The Students - Let’s not forget the students. In the From Where I Sit series of eight short and compelling videos , CSU students discuss how their disabilities affect their learning, and offer suggestions to faculty on small steps they can take to make classes more accessible.
  10. The CSU Commitment
    The CSU is committed to creating a culture of access by proactively designing inclusive learning environments. This includes ensuring that all campus electronic and information technology resources are fully accessible to individuals with disabilities. The goal is to provide the most effective learning environment for all students while at the same time complying with relevant policies and laws to provide all students with a barrier-free education, and to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, and with California Government Code 11135.