Diego State University - Interwork Institute
Collaborative for Distance Learning
The following distance education policy guidelines were adopted
from a report titled Distance Education: Access guidelines for
Students with Disabilities distributed by the Chancellors
Office, California Community Colleges, August 1999.
Based on that report, the San Diego State University Interwork
Institute will address distance education access issues in the following
two areas: Basic Requirements for Providing Access to Distance Education
programs and, General Access Guidelines for Specific modes of Distance
Education Instructional Delivery, specifically, print media, audio
conferencing, video conferencing/video transmission (live), video
transmission (pre-recorded), World Wide Web (WWW), instructional
software, laser video disc, CD ROM, and DVD.
The general policy of the SDSU Interwork Institute regarding accessibility
to distance education program emphasizes three main points.
First, the SDSU Interwork Institute maintains a proactive stance
in its vision for providing effective access for all students in
distance education programs such as those utilizing resources and
materials including audio, video, and text components of courses
or communication delivered via satellite, Instructional Television
Fixed Services (ITFS), cable, compressed video, local and wide area
networks, internet, telephone, and any other form of electronic
transmission. Moreover, providing effective access also applies
for all students using materials for such courses including audio
materials, video, multimedia and text components of web sites, electronic
chat rooms, e-mail, instructional software, CD-ROM, DVD, laser disc,
video tape, audio tape, electronic text, and print materials.
Second, as the SDSU Interwork Institute develops distance education
programs utilizing any of the above, it will proceed with the needs
of all students in mind, including the unique needs of students
with disabilities. Moreover, the SDSU Interwork Institute will take
all necessary steps to unequivocally afford those individuals with
disabilities an opportunity to participate in distance education
programs where communication is as effective as that afforded to
non-disabled students. In this context, effective communication
means timeliness in delivering the course, accuracy of the material
translated into a suitable context for learning, and providing a
learning medium appropriate to the significance of the course and
the abilities of the individual with the disability.
Third, the SDSU Interwork Institute acknowledges a shared responsibility
among all university administrators, faculty, and staff who are
involved in the use of distance education programs to ensure such
programs, materials, and resources are accessible to students with
SDSU Interwork Institute General Policy
A. Basic Requirements for Access to Distance Education programs
Concurring with the Distance Education Guidelines supported by
the Chancellors Office of the California Community Colleges,
the SDSU Interwork Institute advocates the following specifications
for access of distance education programs for students with disabilities.
Distance education resources will be designed to give disabled
students maximum opportunity to access resources at any time
and any place without the need for outside assistance, for example,
sign language interpreters, aides, etc.
Where possible, distance education resources will be designed
to provide interface design and/or content layout that is accessible
to assistive computer technology in common use by persons with
disabilities, such as closed captioning, descriptive narration,
use of alternative text, etc.
Whenever possible, accommodation of information will be provided
in the alternative format for example, Braille, sign language
interpreter, closed captioning, etc. Consideration will be given
as to the most effective means of accommodation for the task,
realizing that methods which are adequate for short, simple
or less important communications may not be equally effective
or appropriate for longer, more complex, or more critical material.
Any distance education courses, resources, or materials purchased
from a third-party provider or created or substantially modified
by the SDSU Interwork Institute must be accessible to students
with disabilities unless doing so would fundamentally alter
the nature of the instructional activity. In such cases, alternative
instructional activities would be designed and implemented by
B. General Access Guidelines for Delivering Distance Education
Concurring with the Distance Education
Guidelines supported by the Chancellors Office of the California
Community Colleges, the SDSU Interwork Institute advocates the following
specifications for delivering distance education instructional materials
to students with disabilities.
Provide print material in alternative formats preferred
by the student including: Braille, large print, audiotape, digital
sound files, and electronic text such word processing documents
available in both Windows and Macintosh environments.
Provide a text telephones (TTY) link in the studio or classroom,
a telephone relay service (TRS) link, a dedicated, electronic
chat room and real-time transcription of conversations, provide
on-site interpreter at the students location.
Video Conferencing/Live Video Transmission (Satellite broadcast,
cable TV, Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) or compressed
video (ISDN), etc.)
Provide real-time closed or open captioning, an on-screen
interpreter or interpreter at the students location. Provide
a TTY link in the studio classroom, a TRS service or dedicated
electronic chat room for real-time conversation exchange to
facilitate communication from the student.
Pre recorded Video Transmission
For deaf students, provide closed or open captioning, an
on-screen interpreter or an interpreter at the students
location. For blind or low vision students, provide all print
materials in alternative formats, for example, Braille, large
print, audio tape and/or electronic text. Provide real-time
descriptive narration of significant visual elements.
World Wide Web (WWW)
A comprehensive set of guidelines for meeting the Web access
needs of persons with disabilities have been developed by the
Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) http://www.w3.org/WAI/
. The guidelines have been adopted by the California Community
Colleges Chancellors Office and are supported by the SDSU
Interwork Institute. The guidelines intend to foster the creation
of Web sites that provide equal access to information when viewed
using typical, industry standard assistive computer technologies
in use today by students with disabilities. Where access to
Web sites not controlled by the SDSU Interwork Institute is
required to complete a course, the university will either take
steps to provide accessibility or provide the same material
by another means that is accessible. Complete text of the WAI
accessibility guidelines as well as useful tutorials and extensive
technical support can be found at the URL listed above.
Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) software, video disc,
CD ROM, DVD
The SDSU Interwork Institute acknowledges and supports a
comprehensive set of software guidelines developed by the Trace
Research & Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The purpose of the guidelines is to describe what application
developers can do in order to make their software accessible
and usable by people with disabilities and older users. The
complete text of these guidelines can be found at: http://www.trace.wisc.edu/docx/software_guidelines/toc.htm
Good links to other sites.
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The Interwork Institute is administered
College of Education, San Diego State University and the SDSU Research Foundation.
3590 Camino del Rio North, San Diego 92108. Phone: 619-594-2462
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