Online Course Accommodations

Captioning

"Captioning" is the conversion of audio to text format to be synchronously available within audio/video content. If you are planning to use audio/video content in your course, please remember it is your responsibility to ensure that all course material is accessible for your students. To get you started, below is some helpful information. If required, please reach out to the Teaching Hub for additional support, teachinghub@nipissingu.ca

Creating Audio/Video Content:

It's always best to decide how you will caption your content prior to creating it. Here are a few suggestions:

Adding Captioning to Already Created Content:

Using External Audio/Video Content:

If selecting externally created audio/video content, we ask that you keep in mind the need for the material to be captioned.

Audio Only Content:

Transcripts will be required for any content that is strictly audio.

Synchronous Delivery:

If your course has a synchronous component, it may be appropriate to arrange human-assisted captioning by an external provider during these sessions. Student Accessibility Services will assist with making these arrangements but please keep in mind that it may take a few weeks to arrange, therefore I ask that you contact us as soon as possible to discuss, sas@nipissingu.ca

Online Note Taking Accommodation

Note-taking support is a proven way to provide equal access and to contribute to the success of students who have
various disabilities. By relying on a note-taker to provide them with notes, students can devote their full attention
to the professor, classroom discussions, and other learning activities.
Students in courses that have synchronous components may require note-taking supports and/or audio
recording as they would in an on-campus course. Some students may also require transcriptions of podcasts or
audio clips, and notes or audio recordings of courses that have asynchronous components. SAS may contact you
to further discuss lecture content if questions present themselves.
In addition, we encourage all students who are able, to continue to take personal notes as best they can, even if
they are receiving note-taking support. If you do post your notes or slides for the class, it is very helpful for many
students with disabilities to have access to them prior to the lecture to help guide their learning and note-taking.
 

Handouts Enlarged or on Coloured Paper

These may be recommended classroom accommodations for students with low vision and/or visual processing deficits. Large print can be very beneficial for students with low vision and this can be accommodated in a couple of ways:

  • An 8.5x11 handout enlarged to 11x17 will quite often be enough to serve a student with low vision, and this is a technique we often use with tests and exams in our office.
  • Also, if you provide students with an electronic text version of your handout, they may be able to increase the font size themselves using their computer technology.

​Coloured paper can often benefit students with visual processing difficulties such as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome. Glare from white paper or the high contrast between white paper and black text can cause physical discomfort and/or difficulty with focus and reading. Some students may self-accommodate with dark or tinted lenses/glasses for reading and writing in class. Often coloured paper will offer similar benefits. When SAS makes this accommodation, we will typically recommend a colour of paper for you to use, typically blue, beige or green coloured stock, all of which are available through Print Plus.

Notes/Presentations in Advance

SAS realizes that not all instructors use PowerPoint or similar tools in their classroom lectures. Similarly, we recognize that not all instructors speak from a complete set of lecture notes, nor may these notes be in a format with which the instructors are comfortable to share with students. That said, a number of students, those with and without disabilities, can benefit from having access to lecture notes, outlines or PowerPoints in advance. 

From a cognitive perspective, previewing a lecture in advance can provide a mental map for students and set up a personal context for learning this new material. Students can more easily begin to construct meaning when they already have clear learning expectations in mind. Similarly, note taking becomes an easier task when students already have an idea of what they are learning and can anticipate what is next. (Some of you may have noticed your students printing your PowerPoints and annotating them during your lectures. Other students may annotate the presentation on the computer as .pdf files.) 

SAS understands that some instructors do not like posting their presentations in advance for fear it may deter students from attending class. If this is the case, please consider emailing the presentation in advance of class to the specific students requesting this accommodation.

Extensions on Assignments

Some students registered with SAS are approved for "Extensions on Assignments” as an academic accommodation. The following provides an overview of this accommodation.

What is this accommodation used for?

The function of this accommodation is to help students compensate for the time they may lose due to their disability-related symptoms while completing coursework. For example, a student with a visual impairment may take longer to complete an assignment simply because using screen reading technology to access written materials is slower than reading with normal eyesight. Similarly, a student with chronic pain may struggle to sit for extended periods of time to complete a task. Providing extra time for assignments in cases like these ensures that students with disabilities are not unfairly penalized for requiring additional time due to their disability-related symptoms. Students with “Extensions on Assignments” have provided SAS with documentation from a qualified professional supporting the need for this accommodation.

Who receives this accommodation?

Students may have a variety of impairments that would warrant this accommodation. Some examples include:

  • students with compromised reading abilities (e.g. slow processing speed or reading impairments) arising from a learning disability
  • students with fluctuating and unpredictable periods of ill-health associated with mental health disabilities or chronic illnesses, such as Crohn's Disease
  • students with attention impairments, making it difficult to organize thoughts, focus and concentrate for sustained periods of time
  • students who need frequent rest periods or who are able to work only for short periods of time, such as those with recent concussions or other brain injuries
  • students with reduced or limited stamina, making sitting, reading, writing/typing for extended periods difficult, like those with physical disabilities or injuries
  • students who rely on adaptive technology (e.g., screen readers or speech-to-text software) to read and/or write

What extra time on assignments as an accommodation does not mean:

  • open ended deadlines or automatic approval of extensions
  • elimination of all in-course deadlines or permission to submit interval-scheduled work all at the same at the end of the course
  • permission to submit assignments at the student's convenience
  • automatic re-weighting of grades to compensate for assignments not submitted

The assignment extension deadline is not meant to be used to accommodate extended absences, unless the absences are also disability-related (e.g. hospitalization) and the student is still able to meet the essential course requirements. If the student is unable to meet essential course requirements due to extended absences, they should contact SAS to discuss alternate options, such as late withdrawal.

What are the student’s responsibilities?

Students must communicate the need for each disability-related extension with faculty and SAS. Requests for extensions may come from the student or from SAS on behalf of the student. SAS will only advocate for extensions that are directly related to a students’ disability.

Students are expected to communicate their request for an extension prior to the assignment due date. In situations where a student is hospitalized, or in cases of chronic or episodic illnesses that may have a sudden onset of symptoms, requesting an extension in advance may not be possible and late requests should be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Students are expected to complete the assignment by the revised deadline. If a student is unable to meet this expectation, additional extensions are to the discretion of the instructor. If additional extensions are required, students and faculty are encouraged to contact SAS with questions or concerns.

Why do students need to communicate the need for individual extensions even if SAS has approved this accommodation?

"Extensions on Assignments" as an approved accommodation requires students to negotiate each and every deadline extension with their faculty. The reason for this is that due dates and deadlines are tied directly to the academic standards and requirements of each individual course.

In responding to a request for an assignment extension, instructors are expected to consider the student's need for reasonable accommodation within the context of ensuring that academic expectations are being met.

How much extra time should faculty grant students with disabilities seeking extensions?

While there is no set formula, the amount of time granted for each extension needs to take into account the stated expectations of the assignments and the course. For example, in courses where lab assignments are due every second Friday, it might be reasonable upon request to permit a student with a disability until Monday to submit their assignment. This short extension takes into account the task expectations associated with the original deadline and the approximate amount of time the student needs to make up for time lost due to impairments arising from their disability. At the same time, the accommodation helps to ensure the student remains on track with the course content and receives the feedback they need to progress. For larger projects like term papers, an additional week or even two might be a reasonable extension, again depending on the expectations associated with the task and the stated timelines of the course. In situations where a student is hospitalized, longer extensions may be requested, so long as the student is still able to meet the essential course requirements.

Additional Guidelines for Faculty about Extensions on Assignments:

Faculty should receive initial requests for extensions by students with disabilities in good faith. This means assuming that the student is making an honest request for accommodation based on their disability, and responding to the request in a timely manner.

When a student’s Letter of Accommodation indicates "Extensions on Assignments", faculty should not request that the student supply any medical or private documentation verifying their need for the extension, as they have already provided this information to SAS.

Faculty will have met the University's obligation to accommodate when they:

  • can demonstrate they received the student's request for an extension in good faith
  • granted a reasonable response to initial requests in a timely manner
  • appropriately linked the granting or denial of an extension to the essential requirements of their course.

Once an instructor has granted reasonable extensions upon request, he or she is within their right to refuse additional extensions if doing so is in contradiction to the essential course requirements.

If a student makes subsequent requests for extensions either on the same assignment or for several assignments in the same course, instructors should refer the student to Student Accessibility Services for additional support. When granted reasonable accommodation, students with disabilities are expected to meet stated course requirements, the same as any other student.

SAS encourages both students and faculty to contact us should any questions arise regarding the request of and response to extensions on assignments.

Adapted from Student Accessibility Services, Queens University (2016) with permission.

Described Video

Students with visual impairments often use described video to access the visual elements of a film.

If you are planning to use a video and descriptive video is not available, please inform the student and Student Accessibility Services to discuss alternative ways to approach information that the student may miss.

Disability-Related Absences

Punctual and regular attendance is essential for the successful completion of courses at Nipissing University. According to the Academic Policies and Regulations of the institution, absenteeism should not exceed 20% of classes, or the student may be excluded from writing the final examination. Faculty have the right to establish attendance requirements and these are specific to each course and included in the course syllabus. The number of allowable absences depends on the interactive or participatory nature of the course, lab or practicum, and/or is based on department or program rules. 

The university recognizes that some students have disabilities that are episodic in nature with random or cyclical acute episodes, and as a result, the disability may occasionally impact the student’s ability to attend class. However, if regular attendance is deemed to be essential to the course and/or curriculum or if the number of accommodated absences becomes excessive, then the student may be asked to consider alternative options (e.g. course withdrawal, consideration of online course, if applicable, etc.) Note that students are still expected to attend tests and exams. Should a student miss a test or exam for disability-related reasons, additional medical documentation will be required. Students have the responsibility of completing all coursework and faculty are not obligated to re-teach material missed due to not attending class. This accommodation does not apply to practicum unless explicitly stated. For classes with attendance or participation marks, students should not be penalized for classes missed due to disability-related reasons. 

Important Note - This accommodation will no longer be listed on a student's Letter of Accommodation as missed classes should be dealt with on a case by case basis. As indicated below, it is the student's responsibility to contact their faculty and SAS in the event of a class missed due to disability-related reasons. 

Procedures:

  1. A student with a disability who feels that they will have difficulty attending classes due to disability-related reasons must provide documentation from a qualified healthcare professional indicating attendance as a functional limitation related to their disability. Students should consider their disability-related symptoms when scheduling classes, when possible. (e.g. scheduling of classes in the afternoon if symptoms present mostly in the mornings, choosing online courses, etc).​​
  2. The student will speak with each of their faculty within the first two weeks of each semester or as soon as the condition is known, to discuss their situation and to clarify the class attendance policy, including attendance/participation marks, and with regard to meeting course requirements. Please note that the student is not required to disclose specific disability-related information. 
  3. The student is responsible for emailing the faculty member and Accessibility Consultant as soon as possible each time a disability-related absence will occur/has occurred and, as necessary, inform the faculty member when the student will return to class. If the student is unable to contact faculty (hospitalization, etc), the Accessibility Consultant may contact faculty on a student’s behalf. NOTE - The student is responsible for adhering to all scheduled deadlines for class assignments and tests. If the student has missed a deadline due to a disability-related absence, the student, as soon as they are able, should contact the faculty to discuss the possibility of submitting the work. Request for accommodation must be timely and reasonable. Additional medical documentation will be requested in the event of a missed test. 
  4. If at any point during the semester, the faculty member believes that the student’s absences from class jeopardize academic integrity or conflict with the essential requirements, the faculty member should contact the student’s Accessibility Consultant. 

Considerations for Faculty:

  1. Are attendance and participation marks indicated in your syllabus? 
  2. Do student contributions in class constitute a significant component of the learning process? If so, are there other ways an absent student might contribute?
  3. Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method of learning? For example, could students legitimately make up for a class absence through readings, class notes, and/or tutoring?
  4. Is there regular classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among the students themselves? Is this classroom interaction essential to the absent student’s learning and understanding of the course content?
  5. To what degree does a student’s failure to attend class constitute a significant loss of the educational experience of other students in the class? 
  6. What is the method by which the final course grade is calculated? How much attendance leeway can be allowed without altering the essential course requirements?

Should a faculty member have any questions or concerns about this accommodation or a student receiving this accommodation, they are encouraged to contact the student’s Accessibility Consultant.