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OU Accessibility, Disability Resource Center issues spring accommodation guidance to faculty

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Disability Resource Center

The sign in front of the Office of the University Community that houses the Accessibility and Disability Resource Center on April 15. The ADRC helps provide resources and equal opportunities for OU students, employees and faculty members.

The OU Accessibility and Disability Resource Center announced classroom accommodations guidelines for spring 2021 on Nov. 19, along with guidelines for finishing the fall semester online.

According to an email sent to OU faculty members, an ADRC team member will meet with students with “significant disabilities” at the beginning of the spring 2021 semester in order to establish whether “appropriate accommodations” can be made to allow in-person attendance. In the case that there are no reasonable accommodations allowing for the student to attend class physically, the student will be allowed to take classes remotely and will receive an accommodation memorandum within the first weeks of the semester. 

Although the ADRC said in the email it acknowledges the high volume of online classes that will be offered, it requires OU faculty members with in-person classes to prepare “some type of remote attendance” where they won’t penalize the student for any attendance requirement. Further, the ARDC is requiring faculty to establish a digital format for the student to participate in class activities, provide online exams and allow the student to hand in assignments via email. 

After Thanksgiving Break, the ADRC building will keep its “typical hours of operation” in a remote format — by phone, email and Zoom — but will not proctor exams in the center for the remainder of fall 2020. However, it encourages OU faculty members to use the ADRC resources to support students on exam accommodations, in-class accommodations and digitally accessible classroom content. 

According to the email, students who receive exam accommodations such as extended time, stop-out time and a reduced distraction environment must also receive these accommodations online. The ADRC provides information for OU faculty members on using a “monitoring system for exams” like Respondus Monitor. 

However, if there are students with “vision, print and hearing disabilities,” the content must be uploaded in other “accessible” formats, such as MyMedia video captions, text-to-speech and keyboard-only document navigation. 

The ADRC also provided guidelines for in-class accommodations in the email. OU faculty members can use audio recordings to make the lessons available for all OU students and offer short five- to 10-minute breaks in class for the student to take a time away from the screen. OU students who receive flexibility in attendance accommodations are allowed “a limited number of absences,” but they are expected to email their professors and the ADRC for “each absence missed because of their disability.”

The ADRC acknowledged the upcoming challenges of the spring 2021 semester in the email, and said it will continue to offer information on its website for OU faculty members on future tutorials and accessibility information, Zoom training, Microsoft PowerPoint automatic captioning and subtitles, Accessible Technology and Canvas accessibility

“The ADRC appreciates your flexibility and understanding,” the team said in the email. “We are excited to work with you to identify ways to minimize the challenges you and your students with disabilities may encounter.”

Marien López-Medina is an international student and United World Colleges alumna from Nicaragua. She is majoring in journalism with a minor in public and nonprofit administration and works as a news reporter for The Daily.

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