What is Accessibility?
“Accessible” means that individuals with disabilities are able to independently acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services within the same time frame as individuals without disabilities, with substantially equivalent ease of use. A few examples of accessibility are accessible web pages, accessible instructional materials, accessible apps and an accessible eReader.
What is Accommodation?
“Accommodations” are reasonable academic adjustments or auxiliary aids that provide equal access to programs and services on an individual basis. A few examples of reasonable academic adjustments or auxiliary aids are extended time on tests, taking an exam in a minimal distraction area, recording a lecture, and having a note-taker.
What is the Difference?
Accessibility is achieved through the use of identified standards to design environments to be used by everyone, including persons with disabilities, and oversight is often provided by an accessibility manager and/or ADA coordinator.
Accommodations are requested by a person with a disability and determined to be reasonable on an individual basis by an appointed representative, often, in a disability services office. Accommodations may be needed beyond an accessible environment for equal access to programs and services because of the individual nature of the disability not due to an environment’s inaccessible design.
It might be helpful to remember: “Accessibility is for everyone; accommodation is for an individual.”
What is Universal Design?
While course content should be designed with accessibility principles in mind, it is best for the focus to be on universal design: courses and course content should be usable by people with the widest possible range of abilities, operating within the widest possible range of situations. This is about making things accessible to all people (whether they have a disability or not).
Universal design in instruction addresses the need to create flexible goals, methods, materials, and assessments that accommodate learner differences. As we incorporate universally designed instructional practices, we help all students succeed while transparently providing the required accommodation for students with disabilities.
What Does This Mean for Me?
In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Nashville State Community College makes every effort to provide students with disabilities access to online learning programs offered by the College. Since the Internet often serves as a key to accessing these programs, it is vital that the Web course content be accessible for all users.
Thus, this law mandates that all instructional materials be accessible. The TBR Higher Education Accessibility Task Force has specified that “instructional materials” are items that are created, purchased, or identified to serve in instruction and communication of information in the curricular settings at public higher education institutions in Tennessee. These items may include, but are not limited to, texts in bound, unbound, kit or package form, library media (print, non-print, and electronic resource), instructional software content, web/online content and learning objects, E-books, CD-ROM, DVDs, videos, slides, films and filmstrips, learning laboratories, recordings, manipulatives, consumables and ITV content.