Faculty How To's
DSPS Faculty Portal (AIM)
Each semester, as students request their approved accommodations for your class, a notification is sent to your Cuesta College e-mail address. Accordingly, at the start of each semester you may receive a number of these Faculty Notification Letters with details about your student's accommodations. If you're not receiving DSPS notifications in your Cuesta employee email inbox, please check your Junk Mail folder and mark the sender as safe to avoid missing future notifications.
In addition to receiving a Faculty Notification Letter when the student requests accommodations for your class, you may visit the DSPS Faculty Portal (AIM) for an overview of student accommodations, including the ability to view a student's Faculty Notification letter. Please see our Faculty Portal How To for steps on how to login and view your students' accommodations.
In order for DSPS to proctor exams with a student's accommodations in place, we require faculty to complete an Alternative Testing Agreement specifying the parameters for an exam. This is required for all in-person classes in which faculty are unable to provide the student's accommodations and are thus unable to proctor the exam.
Before logging into the DSPS Faculty Portal (AIM), please discuss the student's exam accommodations with the student in detail and complete the agreement accordingly. Please view our How To for an overview of the steps involved in completing an Alternative Testing Agreement and uploading exams.
Note: Due to our office hours, DSPS proctored exams may need to take place outside of class hours
Online Instruction Accessibility
To avoid disadvantaging students with a disability, pre-recorded video shared with the class needs to feature captions. For original content, best practice is to edit auto-captions for accuracy. To ensure non-original content is captioned consider using the YouTube search filter or contact the content creators. See the Cuesta College Teacher Community's Captioning Resources page for more information.
In fact, captions as well as transcripts are beneficial for many people, including:
- Non-native speakers of the language
- Viewers without access to audio on their device
- Viewers in a loud or quiet space
- Students who benefit from seeing and hearing information simultaneously
Consider the equity and legal implications of in-class camera use and synchronous class recordings.
Best practices for inclusive online teaching include:
- Make course or meeting materials accessible and distribute to participants ahead of time
- Understand that students may not have equal access to internet bandwidth, etc.; build in pauses when possible
- When screen-sharing, describe everything on screen. (Shared screens are inaccessible to screen readers.) Be descriptive and specific
Provide alternatives to online proctoring if necessary for accommodations
- Students who have testing accommodations may need to use a different proctoring solution if their accommodation is not compatible.
- Please ensure Honorlock settings are compatible with the student's accommodation using the platform's configuration options. Note: if you have Browser Guard enabled for your class, we recommend that you create a separate copy of the exam that has that feature disabled for students using text-to-speech.
- Be flexible with your testing requirements, and provide students with the ability to communicate any barriers they experience with assistive technology
- Use question banks in Canvas to randomize questions and reduce the possibility of cheating
- Use alternative assessment strategies instead of exams
Creating accessible documents in Microsoft Word relies on using built-in styles along with additional steps for making links and images perceivable to all users.
Please review the steps below for a quick introduction on how to verify and implement document accessibility in MS Word.
How to run the Accessibility Checker
- Click the “Review” tab on the ribbon.
- Click the “Check Accessibility” icon. (Or in the “Tools” menu, click “Check Accessibility.”)
- In the pane that appears beside your document, you see a list of accessibility issues. Click an issue to highlight it in your document. The accessibility checker will suggest for how to fix the problem you’ve selected.
How to access the Navigation Pane
- The Navigation pane in Word lets you quickly search or navigate through your document using the Heading structure.
- To show the Navigation pane in Word, click the “View” tab in the Ribbon. For all document views other than “Read Mode”, then check the “Navigation Pane” checkbox in the “Show” button group.
- If using “Read Mode”, then select the “Navigation Pane” choice from the “View” tab’s drop-down menu, instead. By default, the Navigation pane appears at the left side of the application window.
How to apply Heading Styles
- Select “Home tab>Styles” (or “Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S” to open the “Styles pane”) and apply heading styles to the headings in your document.
- You can: Select the heading style you want and then type your heading, or
- Type your heading, place your cursor anywhere within the heading, and then select the heading style you want to use.
- You may also right-click on the Heading Style and select "Update Heading to Match Selection" to preserve the existing styling
- If you have different heading levels (such as chapter, article, section, topic, etc.), then you must use a different style for each heading type.
How to add Alt Text to Images
- Assistive technology cannot infer meaning from images and other objects. Images and other objects include pictures, images of text, images of tables, shapes, icons with hyperlinks, etc.
- To enter “Alt Text”, select the image, object, or shape. “Right click” or “Shift+F10” and select “Alt Text" (Note: could say Format Picture, Format Shape, etc.>Alt Text). In the “Description” field, enter information that states the purpose (in as few words as possible while remaining clear) for a meaningful image or object or check “Mark as decorative” as appropriate. Then select “close”.
How to create descriptive Link Text
- Assistive technology users rely on meaningful names to determine the destination, function, or purpose of links. For example, multiple “click here” links are misleading if the name for each link is the same, while the destinations differ.
- To create a hyperlink, select or type the hyperlink text and either right click and select “Hyperlink” or use “Ctrl+K” to open the “Insert Hyperlink” configuration window. Specify/verify the “Text to display” and the “Address” for the link and its destination, and select “OK”.
How to check Font & Contrast
- The “Accessibility Checker” automatically checks for sufficient contrast between text and background.
- Ensure your font has good spacing and displays distinct characters accurately
- If needed, use text to duplicate the meaning of information communicated using color
How to ensure Accessible Lists
- Lists organize and structure content. Assistive technology users cannot infer meaning if you just format with tabs, a dash, or a number.
- Select “Home tab>Paragraph” and use the “Bullets,” “Numbering,” or “Multilevel List” features when formatting lists in your document.
Plan your presentations with Accessibility in mind by recognizing the importance of the following choices.
- Slide Layouts
- Reading Order
- Images and Alt Text
- Descriptive Links
- Table Header Row
For detailed instructions, get started with the Microsoft guide on how to make your PowerPoint presentations accessible or review the advice from the American Printing House for the Blind (APH).
For a detailed guide on creating accessible PDFs see this comprehensive checklist for PDF Accessibility. For original content, consider the following.
- Good quality originals retain the majority of accessible features when converted to PDF
- To verify results, use the built-in Accessibility Checker (under Tools > Accessibility)
- Benefits of a searchable PDF include the ability to:
- Search text
- Select text
- Highlight text
- Create a Table of Contents
- Listen to text
Mathematical equations and scientific formulas are made accessible either by using special markup (such as MathML, which is automatically created by Canvas' Equation Editor) or by providing appropriate alt text along with an image of the equation or formula. This latter strategy is also available for making charts and graphs accessible.
To learn more about creating properly marked up equations in Canvas review the platform's Instructor Guide. Another option for creating accessible maths is TextHelp's EquatIO extension for Chrome. This tool is also capable of remediating formulas in existing documents and is free for teachers to use.
With regard to supporting STEM graphs and charts with alt text, please keep the following in mind,
- Identify the instructional merit of an image. What is the main point? Is the image more decorative than informative?
- Keep the explanation of an image brief. How would you describe its purpose in a sentence?
- Articulate the point of the image clearly. Would your explanation help the learner to understand the point of the image? Would learners be more confused?
- Ensure that your explanation is usable by all. How would you explain the image, if you need to do so to someone over the phone? This helps a sighted person perhaps better understand the experience of a non-sighted individual listening to alt text.
- It is often more accessible to provide a table rather than narrative alt text in cases where you're using a pie chart and/or bar chart.
- For graphics that illustrate processes (e.g. flow charts), these can often be presented in a nested list format instead/in addition.
- If the information conveyed in the image/graphic is already represented in the text, then a brief alt text description is all that's needed. The alt text could read "flow chart representing the process discussed in the following text" or something simple that directs the user to the text equivalent