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COVID-19 Guide to Student Accommodations

Disability Accommodations within the Remote Learning Environment: Guide for Students Registered with Disability Services Center*

*Please note: Students seeking accommodations who have not yet registered with disability services should e-mail dsc@ric.edu to request a virtual appointment.

As the Rhode Island College community prepares to transition to remote learning starting March 23rd, The Disability Services Center is working collaboratively with User Support Services, the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL) and faculty members to ensure that reasonable disability accommodations are met within the remote, accessible learning environment.

Accommodations within Remote Learning: 

Accommodations were determined on an individual basis for students at the time of registration with the Disability Services Center, based upon an interactive process and appropriate documentation. We recognize that many students have questions about how their accommodations will now apply to remote learning. General guidance on specific accommodations can be found below.

     As always, communication is key, and you may have questions that are not addressed in the below list. Each student’s needs are unique, and we are available to address individual questions and concerns. Please contact the Disability Services Center at dsc@ric.edu as needed. Communication with your instructors will also be essential during this time. We encourage you to proactively contact your instructors as questions about assignments, deadlines, and course materials arise. Your instructors will provide you with specific details for each of their classes, including the remote format they will use, how to contact them, and how they will conduct office hours remotely.

Testing Accommodations: 

Some students are eligible for extra time on quizzes, tests, and exams, as previously documented in their Spring 2020 Accommodation Letter. In keeping with the College’s transition to remote learning and testing formats, and in accordance with guidance from state and national officials regarding social distancing, Disability Services will no longer administer in-person exams until further notice. Students should communicate directly with their instructors about their testing accommodations.

Extended time on quizzes, tests, and exams:

  • Disability Services will no longer administer in-person exams until further notice. Students should communicate directly with their instructors about their testing accommodations.
  • Some instructors may opt for alternative assessments for their courses (e.g. essays, untimed exams which would not require exams accommodations)
  • For online time-limited quizzes, tests, and exams in Blackboard: Contact your instructor (as soon as possible before taking each assessment) and ask them to adjust your individual testing time within Blackboard. They can do so using Blackboard’s “Test Availability Exception feature in Blackboard, to release the test to you with more time.”
  • For online time-limited quizzes, tests, and exams not administered through Blackboard: Contact your instructor to develop a plan for building your extra time into the testing period for the online platform being used.
  • Just as with classroom exams, the approved amount of extra time indicated in the Accommodation Letter is to be added to the total allotted time the class is given for a timed test (for example 50% extra time for a 60 minute timed test would be 90 minutes, 100% extra time for a 60 minute timed test wound be 120 minutes)

Separate/reduced distraction location or solitary location for testing:

  • Many students will find that working remotely allows them to create their own reduced distraction or solitary testing environments. Some ideas to consider, if possible, before taking an online (or other remote-format) test:
    • Set up your tools and materials (i.e. laptop, pen/paper) in a quiet space
    • Consider using earplugs, if available to you
    • Silence your cell phone and turn off any potentially distracting device notifications
    • Notify family members or roommates that you are taking a test. Give them a specific timeframe during which they should not interrupt you
    • We recognize that some students will may experience unique circumstances during the remote learning period related to their home environments, parenting/family roles, and levels of access to technology. Please contact your instructor in advance if you have any specific concerns regarding designated schedules for timed online tests and quizzes.

Extra Time to Complete Assignments:

  • Some students are eligible for extra time to complete assignments, as previously documented in their Spring 2020 Accommodation Letter. The process for requesting extra time to complete an assignment will remain the same during the remote learning period. For each extension desired, the must contact the instructor in advance to request the extension and explain progress on the assignment. The instructor will determine the length of the extension.

Peer Note-Taking:

  • On Friday, March 13th, DSC sent an e-mail (subject: “Note Taking Update”) to all students  eligible for  peer notes as an accommodation, as previously documented in their Spring 2020 Accommodation Letter. Note-takers and involved faculty were also included on the e-mail. The e-mail contained detailed instructions for how to continue exchanging peer notes, as needed, during the remote learning period.
  • Some students may find that they no longer need peer notes in one or more of their classes. This is most likely in courses where your instructor will not be giving virtual lectures (such as through video) during the remote learning period.  Note-takers have been advised, per the March 13th e-mail, to continue providing notes in courses involving virtual lectures. 

Access to Course Materials in Alternative Formats:

  • Materials shared by your instructors in Blackboard can be converted into many different accessible formats using the built-in tools available in Blackboard Ally. Many students find these alternative formats helpful in their learning.  Examples of Alternative Formats include Audio, Braille, a tagged PDF to use with screen readers, and more. Detailed information and instructions can be found at Blackboard Ally Student Information Page.  The Disability Services Center’s Assistive Technology Coordinator will continue to assist students with documented print, sensory, and mobility disabilities with obtaining their course materials in audio, electronic or other accessible formats as needed.

Closed Captioning:

  • Faculty were notified regarding  students who require closed captioning of video and audio content in advance of the Spring 2020 semester and were provided detailed instructions regarding how to request captions. In preparation for the transition to remote learning, the Disability Services Center sent additional reminders about captioning procedures to faculty.

Your instructors are working very hard to make a rapid transition to remote learning that will meet the learning goals and academic standards of your course and to create a meaningful remote learning experiences for you. Just like you, they may be learning new things as they switch to this mode of instruction. This is a time for compassion, understanding, and teamwork. Rest assured that our faculty, staff and the whole Rhode Island College community are here for you, and are dedicated to working together to make this a successful transition.

If you have any specific questions about your accommodations that were not addressed in this guide, should you anticipate a barrier with transition to remote learning, or experience an issue with accessibility of course materials in remote learning please contact the Disability Services Center at dsc@ric.edu and a staff person will assist you. All student assistance will be conducted virtually or via phone until further notice.

Yours Truly,
The Disability Services Center Team

Page last updated: March 21, 2020