We want our students to learn
Ensuring full and equal access to knowledge and scholarship are core values of the academy and the liberal arts. All of our students have the right, both legal and moral, to the modes of teaching and learning that best suit their capacities and abilities.
In the past, too much of the responsibility for acquiring accessible materials has fallen on the students who need them. They have been required to locate and contact the appropriate office, and wait while arrangements are made to accommodate their “disability” in ways other people judge sufficient. The delays and inadequacies of this approach have had negative effects on the opportunities for these students to learn.
Research now shows that all students learn best when they have many ways to encounter and wrestle with ideas through multiple modes of perception. Designing courses from the beginning with these issues in mind can enhance everyone’s learning, and greatly improve outcomes for students who otherwise might face significant challenges.
It must be said, there are also very serious legal issues surrounding accessibility. Many colleges and universities have been held liable for inaccessible technology and instructional materials. The agreements these schools enter into set precedents for ALL educational institutions to follow.
Higher education institutions, including all of the Five Colleges, are proactively working to make sites and services universally accessible. If you are an instructor, your campus has numerous staff and resources to assist you in making sure your hard work and diligent teaching are reaching all of your students. The information on this site is intended as an introduction to thinking about these issues, and an overview of some of the qualities of accessible materials, problems encountered, and strategies for success. We encourage you to reach out to the professionals on your campus who can help you think through decisions, and make the choices that are right for you and your courses and classrooms.