Module Twelve: Students with Disabilities
Coordinator of Disability Services
Students with disabilities are often at-risk because of the lack of equal access to programs, services, events, activities, and instructional materials.  Sean Murphy, Coordinator of Disability Services at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, provides important ways to overcome these inequities.
  Text Version of Video
Question: Under disability law, what are the responsibilities of faculty and the University?

Under the disability law, the responsibility of the faculty and the University is to ensure that all qualified students have access to all educational programs and services.

Question: How can the faculty meet this responsibility?

The faculty can do this by using the principles of Universal Design in developing their course and instructional materials.

Universal Design Principles

The seven principles of Universal Design were created through the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University.

  1. Equitable use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
    Example: A professor's lecture is available to everyone including those with hearing impairments.
  2. Flexibility in use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
    Example: A textbook is available in text and audio formats. Fitness equipment can be used by all.
  3. Simple and intuitive: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
    Example: Directions to campus buildings use common international signs.
  4. Perceptible information: The design communicates necessary information necessary to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
    Example: A video includes captions.
  5. Tolerance of error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
    Example: Computer disk management software warns users of possible loss of data.
  6. Low physical effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.
    Example: Computer monitors can be adjusted for easy use.
  7. Size and space for approach and use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of the user's body size, posture, or mobility.
    Example: Students can move easily within classrooms and labs.
Question: What are accessible instructional materials?

Accessible instructional materials are education materials used for instruction designed to allow a wide arrange of students—especially people with disabilities—to access and understand the content. Generally, we can break to text and multimedia (audio and video). Visit the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials.

Question: How can we make audio accessible?

To make audio accessible, you should begin with high quality audio as well as provide a transcript of audio for hearing impaired or individual with audio processing deficits.

Question: How can we make video accessible?

To make video accessible, you should start with high quality video. Try to purchase video already captioned. If that is not possible, then have the video captioned using the Described and captioned Media Program Captioning Key. This will make the video accessible for individuals with hearing impairments and people with auditory process disabilities. Additional audio descriptors may be required to make the video accessible to people with visual impairments. Most universities outsource the captioning process as it is more efficient and cost effective.

Question: What do faculty need to know to make books and text accessible?

First, traditional paper-based text, books and articles are somewhat limiting as their format cannot be changed. Try also to provide audio of text, such as books on tape. Audio texts are easy to understand and work well for individual with print disabilities. Digital text or e-text possesses a format that can be manipulated to be accessible to wide array of individuals. Text can be made larger or smaller or converted to Braille. Students can also use text to voice software to read text.

Question: What is the best method for faculty to created digital text?

One of the basic ways to create digital text is to use Microsoft Word to create text files. Use the Styles tool to create headings 1-6. Use meaningful names for links and, where appropriate, use a table of contents to improve navigation. In addition to Word files, PowerPoint, PDFs, HTML and ePub files can all be made accessible. Disability Services is willing to work with faculty to make sure their e-texts are accessible.

Question: How can Disability Services help faculty?

First, we in Disability Services recognize that each member of the faculty is an expert in their respective fields.  Second, most faculty are not experts with disabilities, especially with the technical aspects of making educational materials accessible. Final, we recognize that faculty is responsible for developing content for courses.  We in Disability Services will collaborate with you to produce accessible instructional materials to meet legal requirements.

Neuman Library Room 32: ADA Compliant Workstation

At the University of Houston-Clear Lake, students can use the ADA Compliant Workstation in Room #32 in the Neumann Library. You can watch the video or read the transcript.

Flash and javascript, 4:49 min, transcript available (.doc, 31KB)

click to play
Previous Overview Next