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Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity

web resource for Spalding University accessiblity office

The Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity at Spalding University supports students with disabilities to fully access and engage with their learning environment. A combination of traditional “disability services” work, as well as tutoring, learning support, success coaching (open to all students, regardless of disability) provides students a foundation to excel in college level work.

Students with known disabilities are encouraged to register with the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity prior to starting their coursework. Academic (and housing, if applicable) accommodations are made based on intake interview, documentation from licensed provider(s), and an application process.  Students who receive accommodations will have an annual accommodation letter that they are encouraged to present to each instruction at the start of each course. While students are always encouraged to utilized their approved accommodations, they may choose whether or not to do so.  However, accommodations are not retroactive.

Students are required to renew their accommodations on an annual basis. Students who have incomplete documentation may be granted a temporary accommodation letter. The expiration date is noted on the accommodation letter. 

While it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure that the learning environment is accessible, students with disabilities must request accommodations, when needed. The Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity is a resource for Spading students and faculty to ensure that students with disabilities receive reasonable accommodations in the learning environment. 

In certain situations, reasonable accommodations may require modification of standard classroom approaches. The following are examples of accommodations that may be necessary to ensure equal access to education:

  • Provide necessary accommodations for exam taking where the student can receive the accommodations needed.
  • Provide alternative ways to fulfill course requirements.
  • Allow assistive technology such as audio recorders, electronic note takers, and laptop computers to be used in the classroom.
  • Consider alternate ways of assessing student’s knowledge of the course content which allows the student’s academic abilities to be measured.

Confidentiality in the accommodation process must be maintained by all parties. Letters of accommodation should be filed in a safe place, and faculty should refrain from discussing students’ disabilities and necessary accommodations in the presence of fellow students or others who do not have an “educational need to know.”

The Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity staff are always available to answer questions and serve as a resource for faculty seeking assistance in providing accommodations to students.


Universal Design for Learning is a method to facilitate equity in a learning environment. Through a flexible approach to teaching and learning, students have the opportunity to succeed as the many ways in which students can access learning materials and demonstrate their knowledge are prioritized. Such an approach is motivating for students, particularly those who have been marginalized in prior educational experiences. 

Providing Accommodations in the Classroom

Providing reasonable and necessary accommodations to students with disabilities is an important part of the responsibilities as an educator. To ensure that the University meets its obligations to students consistently and fairly, students who seek accommodations should first register with The Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity.

Instructors are often the first point of contact for students with disabilities who seek accommodations. You can help students receive the accommodations they may need by doing the following things:

  1. In your syllabus, include the recommended statement about classroom accommodations for students with disabilities: 

Syllabus statement


In keeping with Spalding's Mission Statement, our community of faculty, staff and students is diverse. This brings a richness to our campus and, more importantly, to our classrooms. Spalding University recognizes and respects individual differences in our educators and our learners. Any student who requires academic assistance for documented learning or health issues should contact the staff in the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity. Registering with the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity, by the student, in a timely manner is critical. Accommodations are not retroactive.

Contact information:

Dr. Katherine Walker-Payne, Director, Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity

Phone: 502-873-4192


Accessibility in Our Learning Environment 

Your academic progress in this class is important. If you are aware of a life circumstance that may affect your academic performance please let me know as soon as possible. If, during the course, you encounter any obstacle please discuss this with me immediately. Once these challenges are identified, we can work together to develop strategies to overcome them.

This class seeks inclusion for all participants. Individuals with academic accommodations of any kind (including learning differences, ADHD, depression, health conditions), who require instructional, curricular, or test accommodations are responsible for making such needs known to the instructor as early as possible.  


  1. Announce to your students on the first day of class how they can receive accommodations if needed.
  2. Direct any requests for accommodations to the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity. Please do not provide your own accommodations for a disability. 
  3. Consider Universal Design for Learning principles as you design your courses.  Closed captions, for example, are beneficial for many students, not just those who are Deaf/hard of hearing.
  4. Provide accommodations only to students who provide you with a letter from the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity explaining the approved classroom accommodations.

Providing the Requested Classroom Accommodations

When you receive a letter from the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity concerning a student with a disability, the letter will explain what accommodations that student requires in the classroom. The most frequently requested accommodations are extended time on examinations and quizzes; testing in a quiet or private location; and use of student notetakers. Students with hearing impairments may need interpreters in class, or use assistive technology that will require the instructor to wear a microphone when lecturing. Students with low vision may need enlarged print examinations and handouts. At times the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity may ask the Registrar to change the location of a class to accommodate a student with limited mobility or a student who needs access to specific technologies in the classroom.

The purpose of an accommodation is to ensure that students with disabilities have access to programs. Accommodations should not change the essential elements, criteria or performance levels of the course. 

Arranging for accommodations is a cooperative endeavor involving the student, the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity, and the instructor. If as the instructor you believe that you can provide an accommodation in a manner that is superior to what has been requested, please contact the Center for Accessibility and Learning equity about it- we love to hear your ideas!

Providing Extended Time on Examinations

Many students with disabilities require 150% time on examinations. If there is such a student in class(es), please try to make arrangements for the student to take the examination under your supervision. Many departments have meeting rooms and offices that could provide a quiet or private space for the student to take an examination. The university does not have a testing center that can accommodate all of the students who receive extended time on examinations. The Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity has limited capacity for exam proctoring. If you cannot arrange for an examination requiring extended time, please contact the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity and we will work with you to see what arrangements can be made. Please see How to add extended time in Canvas for instructions on providing this accommodation in Canvas. 

Providing Note-Taking Accommodations

Students with a note-taker accommodation can be supported in several ways. Instructors and students should discuss the course delivery to determine the best approach.  Instructors are responsible for providing one of the following: 

    1. Instructor provides full lecture notes to the student ahead of time, or

    2.   Instructor provides guided notes ahead of time. This can be an outline of the class where the student has blanks to fill in key concepts that are presented during class, or

    3.  A student volunteer can be identified in the class to assist with note-taking. The Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity has carbon notebooks, but it may also make sense for the note-taker to take notes electronically.  If the instructor is unable provide full lecture notes, they could post/email the following: 

 “There is a need for a volunteer note-taker in this class. Although this is not a paid position, notetakers can receive certificates at the end of the semester that may be used as part of a job or graduate school application packet. If you are interested in being a note-taker, please see me after class. ”

                             Students who wish to serve as note-takers are encouraged to make themselves known to the Center for                                                 Accessibility and Learning Equity, for support and recognition. 

Accommodating Students with Hearing Impairments

Some Deaf and hard of hearing students may use an interpreter in the classroom. Others may use assistive devices that require the instructor to wear a small microphone that can send signals to either an FM device that amplifies sound for the student or to a telecommunications device that enables converting the sound signal to written text on the student’s laptop computer.

In a seminar setting where there is considerable class discussion and the class is small, the microphone can be replaced by an omni-directional speakerphone that can pick up speech from all directions.

Many hearing-impaired students can communicate in a one-on-one situation by lip-reading. But in some cases, the student may need to bring an interpreter when meeting with a faculty member. If a student does rely on lip reading, remember that you will only be understood if you are facing the student without obstructions or strong backlighting that would obscure the student’s view.  The Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity does have disposable lip-reading masks available in limited supply for your use. Please contact CALE to pick some up. 

If you are having difficulty communicating with the student, you and the student can write down what information that is unclear. Writing down your suggestions is especially helpful with hearing-impaired students because lip readers generally pick up less than half of the information that is spoken.

Please be sure to ask students about their communication preferences as there is a great diversity in the communication preferences of Deaf and Hard of hearing students. 

If you use films and videos in your classes, it is important to make the information accessible to hearing-impaired students (usually via closed captioning). Please consult with the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity to discuss having your materials captioned.

Canvas Studio has a captioning function that is easy to use.  Auto-captioning is 85% accurate and edits are easy to make. It is highly recommended that you make a practice of captioning all videos that you make for your class. 

Accommodating Students with Visual Impairments

Some students with visual impairments require large-print written materials. This may entail making enlarged print copies of examinations and handouts. If the student has trouble reading overheads, instructors can make enlarged print copies for the student. Most copying equipment can enlarge documents.

The Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity can also provide students with assistive reading technology, books on tape, and books in braille.

If you use films and videos in your classes, it is important to make the information accessible to students with visual impairments. Please consult with the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity to discuss your specific situation.

Respecting the Confidentiality of Student Information

Many students with disabilities are hesitant to let other students know about their disability. In addition, information about disabilities is part of the student’s confidential academic record. Therefore, faculty members need to respect the student’s privacy when providing accommodations. This means that faculty should not discuss disability-related matters with the student when other students are present, unless the student approves. Some accommodations will naturally draw attention to the student with the disability (e.g., using a sign-language interpreter in class) and this cannot be helped.

Faculty Rights

Faculty members have the right to:

  • Maintain academic standards for courses
  • Determine course content and how it will be taught
  • Confirm a student’s accommodations and ask for clarification about a specific accommodation (listed on the student’s accommodation letter) with the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity
  • Deny a request for accommodation – IF the student has not been approved for such accommodation or if the student does not provide their accommodation letter to the instructor
  • Award grades appropriate to the level of the student’s demonstration of mastery of material
  • Fail a student who does not perform to passing standards

Faculty members do not have the right to:

  • Refuse to provide an approved accommodation for a documented disability
  • Challenge the legitimacy of a student’s disability
  • Review a student’s documentation, including diagnostic data

Faculty Responsibilities

Faculty members have the responsibility to:

  • Understand the laws and university’s guidelines regarding students with disabilities
  • Refer students to The Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity when necessary
  • Provide requested accommodations and academic adjustments to students who have documented disabilities (and provide their accommodations letter to instructor) in a timely manner
  • Maintain appropriate confidentiality of records concerning students with disabilities except when disclosure is required by law or authorized by the student
  • Provide handouts, videos and other course materials in accessible formats 

How to Fix Accessibility Issues in Your Canvas Course

Learn more about accessibility & universal design at &


  1. Student Support - The course should include information about the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity and how students with disabilities may receive accommodations

  2. Software - Check the accessibility of all tools and software used in the course

    • Inform students of system requirements, privacy policies, and accessibility

  3. Web Pages - Check Canvas content with the Canvas accessibility checker 

  4. Web Links and Text - Check that all your links are up to date and have descriptive text

  5. Images - In addition to checking that all images have alt text and proper color contrast:

  6. Videos - All videos and audio should have correct captions or transcripts

  7. Files & Documents - All files and documents should be checked for accessibility

  8. Math - All math equations and formulas should have alt text or MathML representations

  9. Alternative Formats - A separate accessible version of content should be made available when there is no other way to make it accessible

  10. Assignments & Quizzes - All assignments and online activities should have clear expectations to help students understand how to do them and why they are doing them

  11. Student View - Check the course in student view for broken or inaccessible functionality

  12. Mobile Compatibility - Check the course for usability in the Canvas Student app

How to Prevent Accessibility Issues in Your Canvas Course


  1. Modules - Use the modules page as the primary place where you build and organize your course.  Think of it as the table of contents or outline or to-do list for your course.  If you have a reading or assignment or discussion for a particular week or unit, add it to the module for that week or unit.  This way, everything associated with that week or unit will be more visible to you and your students.  You can see in a glance if something is not available or unpublished that shouldn’t be, or if a requirement was not set, and so forth.  See How do I add a module?  and How do I add assignment types, pages, and files as module items?

  2. Don’t Copy & Paste – Don’t copy from other courses or websites or documents into Canvas.  If you do, the text will copy over just fine (although it may mess up the text styles and fonts), but images will not copy over like they would when copying and pasting into a Word document.  Images have to be downloaded from the other site (right click on the image and choose ‘save image as’), and then you can upload and insert the image into Canvas, entering alt text when doing so.  When copying content from another Canvas course, use the course import tool to ensure all images and links are fixed.  Use the link validator to check for any broken images or links.

  3. Images – When inserting an image, always remember to set the alt text with a description of what is in the image for screen readers.  If you want to embed a very large image, reduce its file size with a photo editor first. See: How do I embed images from Canvas into the Rich Content Editor?

  4. Tables – Minimize your use of tables, but when you do use them, set a caption and header row or column in the table properties. Do not set the width of a table or table cell to a fixed value, use percentages instead.  Reduce the number of columns for readability on mobile devices.  See How do I insert a table using the Rich Content Editor?

  5. Text Color - You should not use color or font size alone to distinguish text or convey importance. Use headers. See How do I add and modify text in the Rich Content Editor?   Check that color contrast is sufficient using this Color Contrast Checker from WebAIM.

  6. Videos – Speak clearly when recording videos and audio so that automatic captions will be more accurate and save you time with making any corrections.  Also, check that in the Canvas Student app the video can play full-screen.  On Youtube, click the share button to copy the embed code for a video and then insert the embed code in your page.

  7. Documents - Use the Accessibility Checker when creating Microsoft Office documents.

  8. Math - Use the Canvas Math Editor or MathType app to insert equations and formulas.

  9. Assignments - Use rubrics and transparent assignment templates and techniques.


National Deaf Center Resources and Links

Students who are registered with the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity and have approved testing accommodations are entitled to receive those accommodations for any test, quiz, or exam.  Faculty should provide a testing environment as outlined in the student’s accommodation letter. The Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity may provide test proctoring when all other options have been exhausted.

Student and instructors may make any arrangements for testing accommodations which are fair to the student and to the class requirements. Students with extended time on exams may need an alternate test time if they have another class immediately following the one in which they have an exam.

The most frequent testing accommodations are extended time (150%) and a distraction reduced environment. A distraction-reduced environment does not mean a private testing room. The best practice for a distraction-reduced environment is to allow a student to test in a room that minimizes outside noise and has no more than a total of six students testing at a time. Oftentimes, an empty, adjacent classroom is an ideal way to provide this environment.

Students who will test with the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity are expected to schedule an appointment to take the test as soon as the test is announced, or at least three business days in advance. Please note that the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity (CALE) staff may be unable to proctor during the scheduled class period or on the same day that the exam is scheduled for the class.

Student Responsibilities for Testing:

  • Work with professor as soon as test/exam dates are announced to schedule testing time and location.
  • Notify the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity at least three (3) business days in advance if the student will need to test in LIB 314 (CALE Office). Email should be sent to
  • Email professor and the CALE office ( to notify professor that they will need to share the exam with CALE staff. CALE staff will share the confirmed test date and time with the student and faculty.
  • Arrive on time for testing. If you are late, the time will be deducted from your testing time.
  • Follow direction regarding the storage of backpacks, phones, calculators, etc.

Faculty Responsibilities for Testing:

  • Make arrangements for testing directly with the student whenever possible.
  • If test is to be proctored by CALE, provide CALE with a printed copy of the exam at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled test time. Copies may be left in the CALE Mailbox (behind the circulation desk on the first floor of the library) or hand delivered to CALE staff of GAs (LIB 314). While we can print a short (2–3-page prompt), we are unable to print in color or documents over 3 pages.
  • Provide CALE with the following information:
    • How long do students have to complete the exam during class?
    • Are calculators allowed?
    • Are notes/open book allowed?
    • Other testing requirements

Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity Responsibilities for Testing:

  • Confirm scheduled testing date and time with student and faculty.
  • Facilitate a secure testing environment that maintains the integrity of the exam.
  • Collect completed exams from the student, secure in an envelope with a signature over the seal and make arrangements to return to professor.
  • Test proctors may not explain content or express opinions concerning the test. Clarifications for specific purposes (directions, procedures, or time remaining) may be given.
  • Backpacks, phones, notes that are not allowed in the testing environment will be held in a secure location for the duration of the exam.
  • Uphold University guidelines and policies regarding test-taking and academic integrity.