The ability to access one’s textbooks and other course materials is essential to a student’s learning and participation in class. Alternative format accommodations take traditional print materials and ensure access for the student by converting the materials into different print or non-print formats. Some examples of the alternatives include: accessible PDFs, digital files / e-texts, audio formats, enlarged print, or Braille.
Students approved for this accommodation work closely with DSP to help ensure course materials are converted and available before the start of term. In order to do that, DSP relies of faculty to determine assigned course materials with as much advanced notice as possible. The process to acquire or convert text materials can take 2-6 weeks, depending on the format needed by the student, the availability of that text in the needed format, and/or the manual processes that may be needed to produce converted materials for the student.
Faculty are critical to helping to ensure non-discriminatory practices within the classroom, including with regards to access to course content. DSP’s Alternative Format/Assistive Technology Specialist is happy to consult with faculty regarding course materials and options for ensuring they are in accessible formats for all students.
DSP Alternative Format / Assistive Technology Specialist can be reached at: DSPAT@usc.edu or by contacting our front desk at 213-740-0776.
Key actions related to accessible materials:
- Ensure your booklists are provided to the bookstore prior to the start of the term.
- Have all materials (required, supplemental, and optional) listed in the course syllabus and the learning management system (e.g. Blackboard, 2U, Canvas, etc) at the beginning of the term.
- Inform students of any additional assigned readings or materials with advanced notice, to allow for request and conversion time.
- Provide quick response and materials as requested by DSP.
- Be prepared to verbally describe visual images used during lecture if/when there are students in your classes who are approved for alternative text/accessible materials. These students may be missing the value, knowledge or learning provided through the visual image.
Important note about resources for you: Resources are available for faculty to assess and, if needed, convert materials to fully accessible versions. Both DSP and the Center for Excellence in Teaching (CET) offer resources to assist you with converting materials prior to distributing to students or posting in your LMS.
Course assignments and deadlines for those assignments are determined by faculty at the college, departmental or individual course level. Occasionally, students may have disabilities that impact their ability to meet course deadlines. While DSP does the work to verify that the student’s disability may cause difficulty with deadlines, and an accommodation may be in order, it is within a faculty member’s expertise to determine if and when granting deadline extensions is reasonable for a specific course. In some cases, such deadlines are fundamental to the course. In other instances, faculty may determine that meeting course deadlines is not critical to the course learning objectives.
Students approved for deadline modifications are encouraged to work with their instructors as early in the semester as possible to reach a mutual agreement on how to apply this accommodation when and if it is needed. This is used assignment-by-assignment, rather than a blanket extension for all assignments. Additionally, this student is responsible for communicating with faculty regarding each assignment for which this accommodation will be needed. This should be done prior to the original assignment due date to determine a reasonable extension that does not compromise the integrity of the assignment, course, and/or program.
Important note: This accommodation is intended to support limited and occasional deadline modifications for disability-related reasons in certain circumstances, but it does not entitle a student to submit all assignments after their established deadlines. If a student indicates or demonstrates their disability currently prevents them from completing any assignments in a timely fashion, please refer the student to their DSP Specialist to discuss an alternative accommodation. Examples of alternatives include Reduced Courseload or a Health Leave of Absence.
We recommend instructors and students with this accommodation talk through the following points, in order to establish a course-level agreement for implementing this accommodation.
- Are extensions on deadlines ever allowed for students without disabilities; for example, if a student has an emergency medical condition, an interview, or a trip on university business?
- What does the syllabus say about deadlines and extensions?
- Is it necessary to have finished the assignment in order to participate in subsequent classes?
- Will the assignment be discussed in subsequent classes, such that it is unfair to allow the student to have access to those conversations before the assignment is completed?
- Would allowing the deadline extension negatively impact the educational experience of other students?
- Is the material being learned in the class sequential? Does each week’s material build on the material learned in the previous week(s)?
- Are there other lab or class sections the student could attend to catch up on missed material?
DSP staff are glad to help address questions or concerns about this accommodation, or to assist with mediating the process to reach an agreement between students and their instructors.