Queen’s promises to prioritize accessibility concerns ahead of online semester

Instructors to caption videos, provide transcripts for fall remote learning 

All material used for online courses will be accessible, Pierce said.
All material used for online courses will be accessible, Pierce said.

As the University determines the logistics of offering the fall term remotely, it’s keeping the issue of accessibility in the discussion.

Though Queen’s is in early stages of planning for the fall term, John Pierce, vice-provost (teaching and learning) said the University intends to prioritize accessibility within the delivery of remote learning. 

“Queen’s is committed to ensuring its programs are available to any student accepted into a course of study,” Pierce wrote in a statement to The Journal. “Financial need, accessibility or geography should not be barriers to a Queen’s education.” 

According to Pierce, the University is also committed to ensuring all materials used for online courses are accessible for students with disabilities. Instructors are required to ensure their videos are captioned or transcripts are provided. 

He said Queen’s Student Accessibility Services (QSAS) will continue to support and welcome incoming students with disabilities as they prepare for their studies in September. 

“QSAS is connecting them with supports, including individualized accommodation plans that ensure equitable access, and transition programming,” said Pierce. “QSAS supports more than 2,000 students with disabilities each year.”

QSAS also supports instructors accommodating students in their online courses, including accommodations for online exams.

“Queen’s is committed to building a campus community that is inclusive for all individuals and ensuring that its services, supports and spaces are accessible for persons with disabilities,” stated Pierce. 

The Accessibility Hub, an online resource that elevates inclusion and improves access for everyone on campus, will also be available.

“It provides support and feedback concerning accessibility initiatives and serves as an online community for those seeking information on disability and accessibility issues on campus,” he explained. 

The provincial government is also providing additional support for those with disabilities.

“Students with disabilities from Ontario who are OSAP eligible may also be eligible for the Bursary for Students with Disabilities," said Pierce. “This helps with disability-related costs students incur at school, including their need for computers with adaptive software and other technologies.”

Students are also able to access several programs to fund the acquisition of equipment they may need, including the Canada Student Loan Program which has doubled its study grant for the 2020-21 year to offer a maximum of $6,000 for full-time studies, or $3,600 for part-time.

The University intends to provide students with a wide array of resources to support their learning in the fall term, including academic and personal advising. It will also continue to provide support for those who rely on borrowing technology from Queen’s to complete course work. 

“Queen’s has an Adaptive Technology Centre (ATC), located in Stauffer Library, which offers a range of services, computers, assistive devices, specialized software, and quiet study space,” explained Pierce. 

The ATC includes Library Accessibility Services, an Adaptive Technology Lab, the Office of the Adaptive Technologist, and the Office of the Accessibility Coordinator.

Regarding accommodations for students living in different time zones, Pierce confirmed instructors will make course material accessible at any time online through either ONQ, Brightspace, or Elentra, which are learning management systems. 

“Some lectures or activities may be set at specific times, but the content from these will be made available to students in a recorded form after it is delivered,” Pierce wrote.  

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