Category: Messages to the Community

Title: Accessibility Resources for the Virtual Learning Environment

Date Published: April 6, 2020

Dear Georgetown Faculty, Students and Staff:

As we continue the work of instructional continuity, we are grateful for our community’s efforts to adapt to this new environment. We deeply appreciate faculty and staff’s commitment to attend not only to the academic needs, but also to the considerable psychosocial, emotional and material needs of students.

With these varied needs in mind, we write now to remind faculty that it is our collective responsibility to ensure students have equal opportunity to access our academic spaces. The university is deeply committed to supporting this effort. Access challenges affect a broad swath of our community and range from the need for new or different academic accommodations for students with disabilities and learning differences, to disparities in access to technology, to new responsibilities for dependent care.

Over the past two weeks, a collaboration of students from Georgetown Disability Alliance, staff from the Academic Resource Center (ARC), CNDLS, UIS and the Office of Equity and Inclusion have worked together to identify the most pressing accessibility problems emerging in our virtual learning environments and gather a set of resources to respond to them. These resources are guided by the principles of Universal Design for Learning, a research-based model that aims to build more inclusive learning environments through giving students multiple ways to connect with course content and to demonstrate what they’ve learned.

We are pleased to announce that these resources are now available to all faculty on the Instructional Continuity website under Accessibility. Additionally, students will have access to accessibility resources via Canvas beginning next week on their course dashboard. Finally, we invite faculty to register for a webinar on accommodations co-hosted by CNDLS and the ARC that will take place on Wednesday, April 8 at 11 a.m. The webinar will be recorded and made available on the Instructional Continuity website as well. Faculty can register at this link. We urge that you make use of these resources as we engage in our collective responsibility of advancing access.

The global crisis and its effects on our community are evolving on a daily basis, demanding new forms of collaboration and support for one another. We urge faculty to check in with students regularly about their changing access needs. Deans and chairs will follow up with additional guidance and support by the end of the week.

Sincerely,

Randy Bass
Vice Provost for Education

Todd Olson
Vice President for Student Affairs