Stanford University has a legal obligation to ensure that its facilities and programs are accessible to individuals with disabilities. In light of the recent transition to online learning, including classes, seminars, workshops and meetings for students, staff, faculty and members of the broader Stanford community, it is important to make these activities as accessible and inclusive as possible. Stanford’s Online Accessibility Policy requires all digital sites and tools meet the accessibility standard of WCAG 2.0 AA. In cases where an accessible site/tool is insufficient, accommodation bridges the gap. Common accommodations for online learning may include captioning, sign language interpreters, material in alternate format, such as Braille, large print, etc. Other accommodations may include flexible attendance, extended time, etc.
Note that matriculated students requiring academic accommodations for courses should contact the Office of Accessible Education. The Diversity & Access Office coordinates disability-related accommodations for student non-academic accommodations and for staff, faculty and members of the public as needed.
If/when a person with a disability requests an accommodation and/or discloses their disability, it is important to remember that these discussions should occur in private and should only be shared with those that have a need to know these details.
Below are some reminders/tools to consider when hosting online activities.
Step 1: Advertising for an Accessible and Inclusive Event/Activity
- Notify participants on how to request accommodations. Please ensure that any notifications about your course, event meeting and/or course includes a statement about how to request disability-related accommodations.
Example: If you need a disability-related accommodation, please contact: ________(person/office), at phone: ________ or email: ________. Requests should be made by ________ (date usually at least one week in advance of the event).
- Advertising for the event can include attachments and PDF’s, but ensure that all pertinent information (date, time, location, etc.) is included in the body of an email. If there are images included, provide description of the image.
- Not all social media platforms are accessible. Provide a link to your event page, where you have control over the accessibility of that page.
- If/when requests for accommodations are received, coordinate accommodations with the Diversity & Access Office or OAE as needed.
- Complete the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Request Form to scheduled captioning and/or sign language interpreters upon request or as needed.
Step 2: Preparing for an Accessible and Inclusive Event/Activity
- Share presentations and/or any additional supplemental material ahead of time if possible.
- If your event will include videos, ensure videos have closed captions prior to the event. More information about captioning videos can be found here.
- Ensure online content is in an accessible format. In addition to PDF files, provide the source file (e.g. docs or pptx). If necessary, you may use automated tools, such as SCRIBE to convert your file into more accessible formats, but always check the converted file to verify the results.
- Confirm that all the functions you intend to use in your tools are accessible. Test polling, chatting, reactions, word clouds, etc, for color contrast, keyboard and screen reader access.
- Record Zoom sessions whenever possible so that the video, audio and chat text are recorded in the Zoom Cloud. The recording files can be downloaded to a computer or streamed from a browser. While an automated transcript will be provided as part of the recording, an edited transcript may be necessary upon request.
- If captioning has been requested please ensure that a professional captioner is used, rather than assigning someone participating in the meeting this role. Contact the OAE or D&AO as needed. Note that academic accommodations are funded by the OAE, and the D&AO funds most public accommodation requests, but event hosts should contact them to further discuss.
Step 3: Hosting an Accessible and Inclusive Event/Activity
- If captioning has been requested, ensure it is enabled and that the captioner is assigned prior to the start of the meeting.
- Inform participants if captioning is being provided and how to view live captions. Also, send a reminder in the chat after the meeting has started for any attendees arriving late.
- Encourage folks to look at their name in the participant list and change it to their first and last name (include preferred pronouns) if it defaulted to something else.
- Set expectations of how the meeting or events is conducted, such as bringing chat conversations to the main meeting, or if resources will be distributed after the event.
- When URLs or other resources are mentioned, have someone designated to type them into the chat window - or follow up with participants after the meeting - to help facilitate folks finding those resources.
- Allow participants to ask questions either verbally, with or without using the hand raising function, or by typing in the chat. If you are hosting a webinar which limits ad-hoc audience participation, provide an accessible method for everyone to submit questions, i.e. as part of registration.
- When possible, have someone manage the chat and another person lead the meeting. Depending on the size of the meeting, it can be challenging to do both. Note that the chat can be exported to a document by the host to share if the meeting has been recorded.
- Remember to describe images and/or visual content, such as slides, activities, etc. This is helpful for blind folks and for folks who have called into the meeting.
- Ask everyone to mute their microphone when they aren't speaking to limit background noise.
- Use a headset to minimise background noise.
- For essential activities, such as assignments or participation points, offer alternatives for those who encounter technical challenges.
- Follow-up with an email or webpage with meeting resources and recordings.
Office of Accessible Education (OAE) - Provides support to matriculated students with disabilities (graduate and undergraduate).
Diversity & Access Office - Provides disability-related support and accommodation assistance to staff, faculty and members of the public.
Office of Digital Accessibility - Provides resources for Stanford web designers, developers and content creators so that they can produce materials which are accessible to the broadest audience possible.
Additional Resources/Links for Inclusive and Accessible Teaching
Stanford Teach Anywhere – Accessibility Considerations for Online Teaching
National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes - Accessibility in the Rush to Online Instruction: 10 Tips for Educators
Accessibility for Web Design – Lynda.com video that includes practical accessibility techniques to ensure your web designs can be viewed and used by everyone.
UX Foundations: Accessibility – Lynda.com video that provides information about incorporating accessibility into your design process and making your web projects more accessible to all users.
Creating Accessible PDF’s – Lynda.com video that demonstrates how to create an accessible PDF file with Acrobat DC, InDesign and Microsoft.
Accessibility Tools and Training - Enterprise tools to scan web sites and remediation knowledge base. Online training modules for technical and document accessibility.
Lunch-N-Learn #1 Digital Inclusion - Video recorded presentation hosted by the Graduate School of Education (IT Group) and moderated by the GSE's Chief Inclusion Officer. This Lunch-n-Learn session includes campus partners discussing best practices around digital inclusion for academic courses and non-academic events.