The Faculty Assembly Disabilities Committee (DisC) has assembled this website to provide resources for faculty regarding disability. These resources will be of use to faculty with disabilities and their allies, and any faculty member interested in diversity and inclusion.
Accommodations for Faculty and Staff with Disabilities
Faculty with disabilities have a right to inclusive environments, as guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Accommodation and non-discrimination policies are managed by Human Resources, which has a disability information website. The contact person is Melissa Luna, Employment Rights Compliance and Investigation Manager, at 303-315-2724 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are resources regarding faculty and staff accommodations:
For information on accommodations for disabled students, visit UC Denver’s Disability Resources and Services.
Campus Syllabi Statement on Disability and Access
DisC is currently developing a syllabi statement on disability and access, to help faculty better reach disabled students. More to come.
Reduced-Cost Testing for Disabilities
CU Denver’s Psychological Services Center provides reduced-cost testing of disabilities, particularly learning disabilities. This is a great resource for students who are newly diagnosed or need updated documentation.
The Basics: Including All Students in Your Teaching
Incorporating disability into teaching means creating classroom and curricular spaces where all students can learn. There are two approaches to making your teaching accessible to disabled students:
- The first is legal accommodation, which means providing certain accommodations for disabled students that have been identified by a campus disability office. The required accommodations focus on individual changes teachers must make for particular students. Such accommodations will vary widely based on students’ needs, and may include strategies such as extra time on timed exams, note-takers for lectures, and American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters.
- The second approach is inclusive teaching, also called Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which can work alongside accommodation (more on UDL below). With this approach, teachers work to make their classrooms more inclusive for all students, including disabled students. This approach benefits disabled students receiving accommodations, disabled students who have not disclosed their disabilities to the university and/or their professors, and students who have various learning styles but no diagnosed disabilities.
The information below is mostly focused on the second approach, but does not conflict with an accommodations approach.
Strategies to Try
Inclusive teaching focuses on designing your course and structuring your teaching so that all students can participate and succeed. The good news is that making your teaching more inclusive will make your classroom more dynamic for all your students, and for you. There are many strategies, but here are some simple ideas to try:
- Discuss disability on the first day of class, and include a disability statement in your syllabi. Avoid simply reading your syllabi statement, and instead discuss some of your experiences providing accommodations and/or including disabled students. Discuss how disabled students should contact you (email may feel like the safest option for some students).
- Identify the teaching mode you rely on the most. Teachers often rely on one strategy in their teaching, such as lecture, PowerPoint, handouts, or online discussion. Identify the mode you use the most in your teaching and try using a different mode more frequently. (Many professors are textual learners, but many of our students learn by visualizing, listening, and doing.)
- Try to teach your class in “multiple modes.” Some students learn best from hearing you talk, others from reading, others by doing. Rather than only teaching in one mode, provide information in more than one form to your students. For example, rather than only lecturing, try to lecture and provide a handout with similar information. Or, instead of handing out a paper assignment and assuming students will read it on their own, spend some time explaining it and giving examples. Or, if you’re relying heavily on video, locate captioned videos or videos with scripts, not only for deaf students, but so all can review the text.
- Give students a chance to talk about how they learn, and ask for feedback on your teaching. Students typically won’t let you know that your teaching strategies aren’t working unless you ask, and this includes disabled students. If you are providing accommodations for a specific student or trying new strategies for the class, ask for feedback on your teaching practices, preferably mid-semester. Some teachers like to have students complete learning inventories so teachers can understand their students’ learning strategies, and so that students can become more aware of their own needs.
- Ask for help and learn more. There are more resources below, and you can contact the Faculty Assembly Disabilities Committee (DisC) here on campus, as well as Disability Resources and Services.
University Resources on Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
There is rich educational research on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to help you go further in making your classroom more inclusive and dynamic. These university websites provide accessible and interactive ways to learn more about UDL:
Disability Studies in the Curriculum
If you are considering incorporating Disability Studies content and approaches into your classroom, consider the following resources:
Disability & the Auraria Library
The Auraria Library has a Disability Services website. These pages contain information about the services provided by the Auraria Library as well as contacts and resources. The Library also has two computer stations which are equipped with Adaptive Technology hardware and software which includes JAWS, Read & Write Gold, a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard, and an ergonomic trackball/mouse on an adjustable workstation table. The stations are located on the first floor of the library near room 116. There is also a videophone available for those who need the assistance of a sign language interpreter when making a call. Please see staff at the ASK US desk for exact locations.
Parking and Campus Access
Auraria Parking and Transportation Services provides a campus map that highlights disability features, including disabled parking spaces, accessible building entrances, accessible/unisex restrooms, van-accessible parking and loading zones, assistance dog relief areas, and stops for RTD Access-a-Ride.
The Campus Handivan is an accessible escort service available to parking customers with disabilities. The service is available (during semesters) from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Fridays. Call (303) 556-2001 to schedule a ride (accessible email address not available).
There are two access concerns to be aware of if you’re navigating campus. (1) The historic houses on 9th Street Park are not accessible to those using wheelchairs or other mobility devices. (As historic properties, they are excused from ADA requirements.) Some of these houses have a signal system outside. The exception is Einstein's Bagels, which is accessible through the rear patio door. (2) The sidewalk running from the Lawrence St. Pedestrian Mall past the library to South Classroom and Colfax (bus, light rail stops) is highly pitched in the middle for drainage purposes. Use caution and keep to the center when using wheelchairs or other mobility devices. Or, shift to the flat path that runs parallel, by passing through the breezeway between the West Classroom and Arts buildings (near the Auraria Library), or by heading toward St. Cajetan's when on the central quad.
Questions and Ideas
For questions about the information on this site, contact the Faculty Assembly Disabilities Committee (DisC). Thanks for visiting!