DSS Faculty Resources

Disability Support Services (DSS) informs faculty members through an introductory letter that a student with a disability will be in their class. The student delivers the letter to his or her instructor(s) at the beginning of the semester. For online classes, DSS emails the faculty member the letter to their Seminole State account.

Such intervention is conducted only upon a student's request.

The responsibility for determining a student's eligibility for appropriate academic adjustments rests with the DSS staff. Confidentiality of records is maintained within DSS. Upon the student's written release, DSS can verify the disability and make recommendations for necessary academic adjustments. Without such a release, DSS is unable by law to discuss the specific nature of a student's disability.

Faculty members are encouraged to inform their classes about support services available through DSS. One way to inform students and encourage them to discuss appropriate academic adjustments is to include the following statement on the course syllabus and to repeat it during the first class meeting:

Any student who has a disability and is in need of special services should contact Disability Support Services (Room SC-130, phone 407.708.2110).

For more information, please consult the DSS Faculty Handbook.

Faculty Tips 

Helpful tips for professors when working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing:

Speak directly to the deaf person, not to the interpreter. A common misconception is to say, "Could you tell her . . ." or "Ask him . . . ." Be aware that the interpreter will interpret everything you say. Instead, speak directly to the deaf student. The interpreter will also, when necessary, voice what the deaf student replies to you. Expect lag time.

Interpreters have an ethical responsibility to remain neutral. Interpreters cannot answer personal questions about the student, interject personal opinions, or assist a student with schoolwork. They are there to facilitate communication. Address questions or comments regarding the student, directly to the student. They are held by a Code of Professional Conduct by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).

Check lighting. If you are darkening a room for a program, make sure you leave some light on for the interpreter.

Give materials to students and interpreters in advance whenever possible. Advanced copies of lecture notes, hand-outs, etc., will help familiarize the student with the material and allow the interpreter to better prepare to interpret the class content.

Optimum use of visual cues, such as lip reading and viewing the interpreter, will usually require seating at the front of the classroom. Remember gum chewing, hand placement, and a turned back can all interfere with the student's ability to read your lips/facial expressions.

Give the student time to work on class assignments.  If you give an assignment during class time, you may want to consider not talking during that time. She/he cannot both look down to do the assignment, and watch the interpreter simultaneously.

Emphasize important information such as assignment or schedule changes by writing details on a white board and/or providing written handouts.

If you are showing a video, please make sure it is captioned. It is now required that all video material be closed captioned. Anything you are showing in class, via Sakai, internet, or any other source needs to be captioned to allow equal access. This includes YouTube clips as well; many of them are captioned now too.

Creating Accessible Content

Accessible content allows the widest range of users possible to engage with information. By considering accessibility in the initial phases of content design, we can develop content that is available to everyone. 

Here are a few tips to consider when creating accessible content for students:

Authors often structure their content by making some phrases bigger, bolder, or with a different color. For average users, this is an attention grabber. But this does not work with people relying on screen readers. The accessible text will be read out from top to bottom with no structure and with no chance to navigate between meaningful sections.

Use real headings, the most important heading on a page is H1, which is followed by H2, H3, and so on. When a screen reader sees a heading, it will read it out “Heading level one.” This makes it much easier to navigate.

Visit the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative website for more information regarding Headings.

When making a list, use the built-in list tool instead of typing "1 enter", "2 enter", "3 enter", etc. The list tool will format lists with the bullets of your choice, indents, and spacing. When formatted using the list tool, the list is tagged correctly and assistive technology will notify a user that there is a list with “x” number of items and let the user know what list item they are currently reading.

Unlike headings where users can navigate through a document by having the headings read out to them, you can’t navigate a list using assistive technology. So, if you organize documents in outline form, consider converting your top-level items to headings. Your reader can quickly jump to the section they need.

A detailed article can be found on University of Washington's website, which further explains list format accessibility features.

ALT text (alternate text) refers to invisible description of images which are read aloud to blind users on a screen reader. If no ALT text is provided, then a screen reader would only be able to say "IMAGE" or perhaps provide a file name.

It’s important to not only provide ALT text, but provide a description that's useful in the context of the document. You may not need to include every detail about the image, and you may be able to skip over purely decorative images, but those that contain critical information need to have it to spelled out in the ALT text.

WebAim's (Web Accessibility in Mind) website explains alternate text in greater detail and its impact on accessibility.

Link content, such as “click here” or “read more",  are not good in terms of accessibility. The text should clearly describe the URL. This is especially helpful to people who rely on screen readers. Assistive software can jump between links by generating a list of them.  When creating hyperlinks,  make them meaningful and easy to use. Read more about links and hypertext on WebAim's website.

An important aspect of color for both low vision and colorblind users is sufficient contrast between the background and foreground (text or graphics). Color schemes can be changed in different software types, but it is most commonly a factor in PowerPoint and web pages.

The maximum contrast is black vs. white but other options are available such as navy/white, cream/dark brown, yellow/black and similar color schemes. Generally speaking, a color scheme is considered legible if it can be read in grayscale/black and white mode.

For more information, read Master TCLoc's article, The Importance of Color Accessibility.

Media content needs to be accessible for both visual impaired and deaf hard of hearing students.  For students with screen readers, there needs to be some kind of transcript or description of the information as detailed as possible.  Deaf and hard of hearing will need to have the videos or audio files captioned so they can see the information that is being expressed. W3C has good information to help with creating accessible media content.

Tables need to have column headers and/or row headers. Without these headers, the table is read from left to right, top to bottom. There is generally no identification to which column you might be in. When headers are used, the user is notified what row they are in, what column, the name of the column, and then the information that is in that cell. The formatting that might be taken in visually gets read out properly to those with visual impairments.

WebAim's article, Creating Accessible Tables, provides more accessibility information for table formatting.

Math and science equations are not accessible to screen readers and will not be read. These equations and formulas must be written in MathML, Equatio, or MathType (in a word document).  To learn more, an introductory tutorial is available on MathType's website.  

This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but it’s a great start.  When all else fails, please contact us!  We are here to help.

Please note, you can also extend the amount of time permitted to complete an assignment in Canvas by:


Please use the following resources to learn more about particular types of disability.

Faculty "How To's":

Creating Math problems:  A tutorial on MathType


General Information
Sanford/Lake Mary - 407.708.2110
Altamonte Springs - 407.404.6005
Oviedo - 407.971.5114