On Tuesday, Student Government introduced a resolution supporting equal access to course materials. This resolution is intended to ensure that all 2,289 students currently registered with Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) can access course materials that fit their needs. Some instructors have never taught a class in which a disabled student was enrolled, so while they plan their courses each semester, they should make course materials adaptable to a myriad of possible student needs. These professors’ unintentional lack of information means students may have to wait a couple of days or weeks before receiving accommodations, either from their instructor or from SSD. This waiting period is unnecessary and obviously detrimental to their learning experience.
In one of my classes, the professor emailed us a couple of times requesting people to volunteer their notes to help disabled students, and on Sept. 8, he sent a final email stating that enough people had volunteered. Our class had already met three times by then, so this delay, though small, nonetheless put these students with disabilities at an unnecessary disadvantage. Instructors should request note-taking volunteers shortly before the beginning of the semester to help solve this problem — one of many that would be mitigated by the resolution.
Erin Gleim, the Students for Disabilities Agency director who co-authored the resolution, said the agency would create resources to help professors understand how to plan their classes to be accessible to every student. Prioritizing this information for professors is essential and should have happened earlier. Of course, SSD is one important resource, but everyone at the University, especially faculty, could definitely benefit from more ways to learn about the importance of closed captioning, online resource adaptations and other accommodations that people don’t always consider when planning a course.
Voeller is an associate editor.