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This page provides an overview of common academic accomodations that Student Accessibility Services may provide students and suggested approaches to using Blackboard's Learning Management System.

Accommodations and Accessibility

At the University of Windsor, Student Accessibility Services (SAS) Office provides support for classroom and testing accommodations and a variety of services and supports to students who have registered with SAS. ith the shift to online learning, there is the need to ensure that students with disabilities are able to have equitable access. Under the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), The University of Windsor (the institution and instructors) have "a duty to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities in order to allow them to access educational services equally unless to do so would cause undue hardship" (OHRC,2004).

In order to register with SAS, students have a documented disability which may include learning disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, acquired brain injuries, vision, hearing and mobility impairments, chronic medical conditions, and/or psychiatric issues. For more information about the process of accommodation process and how it applies to your role as an instructor, please visit the SAS page for Faculty and Staff.

In addition to the duty to accommodate, faculty and staff should be aware of the importance of the The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The goal of the AODA is "to develop, implement and enforce standards for accessibility-related to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation and buildings"(AODA,2019).

For more information about accessibility and best practices, visit the Tips for Accessibility article and the Accessibility and Blackboard article.

Approaches to Meeting Student Accommodations

Below you will see common accommodations that may be a part of a student's accommodation plan as approved by SAS. If you need additional assistance with how to support students with their accommodations, reach out to SAS by email or the individual student's SAS advisor.

Accommodation Considerations in Blackboard Potential Practices
Extra Time for Tests

Timed Tests
When deploying, you have the option to identify if you want the test to be timed and how long students can have to write the test. Tests are the only timed assessment that can be used for grading purposes in Blackboard and can provide a detailed log of saving questions throughout the duration of the test.

Additional Time
According to their accommodation plan, some students may require time and a half (1.5x) or double time (2x) on tests and exams. On campus, this accommodation is delivered through Student Accessibility Services' invigilation of in-person exams. For online exams and tests, the additional time needs to be set-up by the instructor.

Create a Time Test Exceptions
Restrictions of 1 Exam/Test Per Day

Deferral of Exam
Students with disabilities may experience a flare up of their disability that significantly impacts their ability to participate in any academic activity for a period of time including when an exam or test is scheduled. Students with disabilities who are registered with SAS and experiencing this situation may request permission to write a missed exam or test on a different date (SAS,2020).

While this article is targetted to supporting instructors with meeting accommodations that may arise as a result of accommodations for students with disabilities, these exceptions can be helpful for students who may have extenuating circumstances that do not allow them to write the test at the same time as the class.

Create an Availability Test Exception
  • As mentioned previously, Test exceptions can be set based on the settings that have been enabled for your tests including Availability. Using the test exception to set an alternate availability will allow the specific and individual availability for the student and override the availability settings for the test in general.
  • In order for the availability exception to be honoured, certain settings need to be enabled. First, using the Limit Availability feature (Display After/Display Until) requires the test to be made available to students. Otherwise, the Limit Availability date(s) will not be honored. Make sure that the test is made available to students.
  • Second, Test Options allow instructors to set a due date and an additional option that prohibits students from taking the test after the due date has passed. If this option to prohibit test taking after the due date is checked off, students will not be able to begin an attempt and even students with test exceptions will not be able to begin. Ensure that if you are setting exceptions, you uncheck this box.

Adaptive Release of a Make-Up Assessment

  • Alternatively, a different version of the assessment can be created for students who are unable to write on the scheduled date and time. Rather than allow all students in the course to access or to write the test, you can set Adaptive Release of the make-up assessment for the individual student or multiples students who require accesss.
  • Adaptive Release allows for the creation of availability rules on single or multiple criteria/criterion for content or assessments in Blackboard: Date, Membership,Grade, and/or Review Status. For more information on using Adaptive Release or the related Advanced Adaptive Release, visit Blackboard's Release Content article .
Extensions on Assignments

Submission Marked Late
When creating an assignment, you have the option to set a due date, which includes a date and time that students are required to submit their attempt by. Attempts that are submitted after the due date are marked as Late.

Limit Availbility
Some instructors choose to Limit Availability of assignments after the deadline when editing the assignment. Limiting Availibility sets a window of time that an assignment is accessible to students. If the window has elapsed, students with extensions may not be able to submit their assignment through Blackboard.

Use Grading Notes
  • Use the Grading Notes features to identify private comments among the grading team when a submission that is marked Late is an approved extension on assignments. For more information on Grading Notes, review Blackboard's Assign Grades article.
  • Be sure to limit the amount of information as it pertains to the extension being granted as a part of an accommodation plan or commentary on the student's disability. Remember, instructors have a responsibility to "maintain the student's dignity and privacy in relation to the disability" (SAS,2020).

Consider Flexible Open Access to Assignments

  • While the Limit Availabilityfeature can be helpful, it also acts as a barrier for students to submit the work past the deadline. While tests have the option to easily add exceptions and extend the availability window, the process to extend availability for assignments is rather complex and requires using the Adaptive Release: Advanced Function to create multiple rules of available criteria.
  • Rather than have an assignment be hidden from students, consider leaving the window open to avoid struggles with submission for students with extensions due to academic accommodations or exceptional circumstances.
Delivery of Course Content
Accommodations Considerations in Blackboard Potential Practices
Access to Presentations Prior to Class Students may require access to presentations in advance of class as a part of their accommodation plan. Doing so will allow students to prepare for the lecture by reviewing material in an accessible format using appropriate tools or time based on their needs (SAS,2020) . This might include screen readers, large print format, or other technologies that support students' individual learning needs.

Access to presentations prior to class is necessary for students with accommodations, but would be beneficial to a wider range of students in supporting their learning.

Using Adaptive Release
  • As previously mentioned, Adaptive Release can be used to allow for the creation of availability rules on single or multiple criteria/criterion for content.
  • Advanced Adaptive Release allows for the creation of multiple rules. This could be useful for having two separate release times for content: prior to class for students with academic accommodations and following class for the remainder of the class.

Universal Design for Learning

Note Taking Note taking during lectures helps support students with focusing on the information being communicated and summarizing information in an effective manner. Online learning may create a different presentation of course material either in a synchronous or asynchronous manner including multimedia experiences such as video conferencing using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (Virtual Classroom) or Microsoft Team. Recording Synchronous Sessions

Captioning Pre-Recorded Content

  • Ensure all pre-recorded content is shared using an accessible video streaming platform that includes at minimum automatic captioning. For a specific overview of current technologies available to support captioning, visit Captioning Videos Wiki article.
    • YouTube and Microsoft Stream are examples of two available and accessible video streaming platforms for UWindsor faculty, staff, and students.
  • Review automatic captions to check that the text matches the audio to ensure that all students have access to the correct information.
  • Consider creating transcripts of videos to share with students to augment video lectures and to aid in notetaking for students.

Further Reading

Related Articles

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