Disability Services during COVID-19

Digital Accommodations and Services for People with Disabilities

Students, faculty, and staff with a documented disability need to continue to receive accommodations during the COVID-19 pandemic. These accommodations as well as other services may need to be modified to fit the remote instruction format of classes. For more information on addressing accessibility issues when moving your course online, please view “20 Tips for teaching an accessible online course” and “30 Web Accessibility Tips.” This document from Stanford [Google Doc] has good advice, including accessibility concerns, about moving courses online quickly. Colgate University also provides self-guided instruction on ensuring web and document accessibility

ITS; the Center for Learning, Teaching, and Research; University Libraries; and the Office of Equity and Diversity will be working together to ensure that students, faculty and staff with documented disabilities will continue to receive equal and full access to education, teaching, and learning resources while maintaining confidentiality and privacy. We can work with you to make your materials accessible.

CLTR Resources for Remote Teaching

Accommodations and Accessibility Information

Accommodation modifications may be requested at any time during the semester, as you may encounter barriers that weren’t obvious until the shift to online-only access. Please contact Evelyn Lester (elester@colgate.edu) at the Office of Disability Services for virtual consultations about accommodation modifications. These modifications may require the assistance of other departments on campus to coordinate, but your requests will continue to be handled in a professional, confidential manner. 

Students should be comfortable asking professors to speak louder, more clearly, or directly into a microphone to ensure that lecture audio is high quality throughout online classes. If possible, directly connect to the internet via an ethernet cable instead of wireless. This should improve connection reliability. Zoom allows attendants and hosts to connect via phone audio, which might be helpful for alternate accommodations such as video relay services for the deaf or hard of hearing. When not speaking, all other audio should be muted to prevent ambient noise distracting other students in the Zoom meeting.

We ask that professors be kind and understanding during this transition, as many students may be facing new barriers to learning they had not experienced on campus. We ask that students be proactive in coming forward when they are facing barriers to learning, so that these barriers can be dealt with in a timely fashion.

Students who receive accommodations for testing may need to continue to receive these accommodations for online testing. Additional time can be assigned through Moodle Quizzes (this FAQ has more information on how to override limits for specific students). Some students may require additional testing accommodations, such as access to a print version of the test. In such cases, you should work directly with your professor and if needed with Evelyn Lester (elester@colgate.edu) in the Office of Disability Services.

ITS and the CLTR are working to ensure that students who have been receiving live captioning/communication support during class sessions will continue to receive these services. For faculty and students, It is more important than ever that you speak directly into the microphone while recording or speaking online to ensure clear audio for all users. It may be necessary to provide additional captioning support for students, or post-lecture transcripts for those with poor audio quality at home or who are receiving note-taking accommodations. View this document for more information about captioning and transcripts with Zoom. Professors may elect to make post-lecture transcripts available to all students, but this is not required.

Zoom is compatible and accessible with Jaws and NVDA, but may have some limitations with VoiceOver or Narrator. Most significant for all individuals using screen readers is that when you switch between the main audio of the lecture and the chat room, the audio of one or the other screens will cut out. It is suggested that if you are using a screen reader, you remain in the lecture or share screen view, and assign someone to read any chat questions or conversations aloud to the group. If a professor is requiring their students to interact through the chat room as part of classroom participation, they should allow students using screen readers to interact verbally instead. Breakout rooms can be used for small group interactions with the same limitation. Students can speak to their professors confidentially outside of the classroom to discuss these accommodations. If you share links through the Zoom chat, please also email them to all students as screen readers can’t access URLs in the chat window.

Even if someone is not using a screen reader, it can be helpful to all the students and to the professor to have someone designated to be the chat room wrangler. The wrangler can bring up important questions to the attention of the professor while the professor focuses on delivering the class. It will also allow other students who are viewing from a small screen to remain in the lecture or screen share window without sacrificing screen space to the chat room.

The whiteboard is not accessible to any screen readers, and when viewing a shared screen, students using a screen readers cannot access the text displayed on screen.

The following video demonstrates how to pin, move, and resize video windows in Zoom, which may be useful for ASL interpreters or anyone using an interpreter.

Students with chronic migraines, concussions, post-concussion syndrome, epilepsy, and other neurological conditions may have difficulty viewing materials on a monitor or computer screen for an extended period of time. This can affect their ability to view lectures or other online materials. Some students have an easier time reading and viewing material that is printed out, or documents displayed in a larger font. These students may require transcripts of lectures as well as access to PowerPoint slides and other visual material in advance. They may also benefit from being able to download and access an audio file of lectures for repeated listening while following along with printed course materials. If students require tests in printed format rather than online, they will need to contact Evelyn Lester (elester@colgate.edu) in the Office of Disability Services for assistance. The CLTR, ITS, and the Libraries will work with you to make your materials accessible in these cases.

For the most part, the Libraries’ journal article databases, digital journal subscriptions, and ebooks are available to all Colgate students, faculty, and staff via remote access. It is critical that all resources, such as databases or ebooks, be accessed through the libraries’ homepage. If you google JSTOR or connect to it directly through jstor.org, you will not be recognized as a member of the Colgate community unless you are using a campus VPN. If you are having issues creating direct links to articles that are accessible off-campus, please reach out to the libraries for assistance. More information is available at the libraries’ website about modified library services for ALL students, faculty and staff. 

Institutions of higher learning have an obligation to provide full and equal access to knowledge to individuals with disabilities. Students, faculty and staff with disabilities who are unable to come to the Libraries are eligible to receive modified library services, such as full document delivery of library materials for the duration of COVID-19 pandemic. This includes ebook or accessible digital versions of books, book chapters, and journal articles. These documents can be reformatted to your specific needs. This additional service is being made available separately from the modified document delivery services.

All students, faculty and staff with disabilities seeking these additional library service modifications must contact Debbie Krahmer dkrahmer@colgate.edu directly for more information. Requests will be addressed on a case-by-case basis as they are received. Existing US law [PDF], including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Chafee Amendment, and the U.S. ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty allows for libraries to provide full access to knowledge for people with qualified disabilities.

Debbie Krahmer is available to work with anyone with disabilities on research assistance through phone (315-228-6592), email (dkrahmer@colgate.edu), Google Hangouts, Zoom, or other formats as necessary, Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm. Debbie can also consult on possible alternate assistive technologies for those who are unable to access the campus. You may also contact any of the librarians for general assistance on library research

At this time, we are unable to ship additional assistive technology to individual students. Please contact Evelyn Lester (elester@colgate.edu) if you require AT while off campus.

If a student has received an iPad, Livescribe pen, or other technology from the Office of Disability Services, you can continue to use it through the semester. Evelyn Lester will be in contact with you to determine the best way to return the technology at the end of the semester. If you have any questions or concerns, contact Evelyn Lester (elester@colgate.edu) in the Office of Disability Services.

There are limited supplies of laptops available for students or faculty and staff who will be working from home who do not have laptops of their own. The University will do its best to maintain necessary accommodations for employees working from home. For faculty and staff, these arrangements should be discussed with the supervisor or Renee Madison and will be handled on a case by case basis. The ITS service desk can help with installation of existing software onto laptops for those who already have AT software available.