June 15, 2021

Virtual Access Procedures

Process for Virtual Access Accommodations:  

Virtual access is an accommodation that allows a student to pursue coursework remotely, and not in the traditional in-person class setting. This is not a substitute for online programs already designed to meet the needs for this type of coursework. The need for this accommodation must be related to a documented disability. Students who are approved for virtual access accommodations should expect this accommodation to be reviewed and determined on a semester-by-semester basis. This accommodation will be evaluated for each class and may be determined that it would not be applicable to a class based on the needs and course objectives.

Students with disability-related access barriers who are requesting accommodations for virtual access to face-to-face/in-person instruction will follow the established process for requesting accommodations:

  1. contacting the SDC to set up an appointment 
  2. engaging in the interactive process, and 
  3. submitting relevant documentation, as needed.   

Students who are requesting virtual access to courses but do not have a disability or medical condition should work with their academic advisor to determine potential next steps regarding their class needs. Students should not come to the SDC seeking support for this type of request if there is not an access barrier related to a documented disability for the student. 

If Virtual Access is approved as an accommodation, the following process will occur:

  1. The Accommodation Specialist will email the class instructor and ASC/Academic Advisor informing them of this accommodation, with the student copied. Instructors can offer ideas or options regarding the potential for virtual access to their course. Academic advisors can work with faculty and departments to identify whether there is an alternate course available for the student to take that fulfills program requirements, or if the student’s course selections towards graduation can reasonably be taken in a future semester. 
  2. If an equivalent or alternate online course is not available, or if it is a course that must be taken due to class sequence towards graduation, the Accommodation Specialist will reach out to the Department Chair copying the ASC/Academic Advisor notifying them of the accommodation and that no alternatives were identified by the Academic Advisor. All will work together to discuss potential options to meet the approved accommodation. Options could include a class substitution, waiver for the course, etc. If approved, the advisor will note this substitution fulfills registration/pre-requisite/graduation requirements.

It is important for the departments to respond promptly after being notified of the virtual access accommodation. It is vital to adhere to the following timeline:

  • If notified before the semester begins, a response must be received three or more days prior to the first day of class.
  • If notified during the semester, a response must be received within three business days.

While waiting for a response from the Department Chair after the fall semester has begun, faculty will work with the student to provide alternative ways to keep up with course content until a determination is made.

3.If it is determined that a course substitution or waiver is not available, and an alternate online course is not identified, then the SDC accommodation specialist will reach out to the instructor to inform them of the need for virtual access to the course, copying the Department Chair and student’s Academic Advisor. This can include discussion of the following:

  • Lecture capture, through recording audio and/or video of lectures, when/if that modality is used in a course 
  • Virtual participation, such as through Zoom, Teams, phone, Canvas discussion posts, etc. 
  • Virtual access to in-class graded activities such as quizzes, exams, or written assignments, etc. through the Canvas learning management system or otherwise 
  • Opportunities to communicate with instructor virtually through email, Canvas, and/or virtual appointments or phone calls, etc. 

For support in how to make courses accessible virtually, faculty may work with their academic department, TILT instructional designers, and/or ACNS IT professionals.

Faculty are not required to:

  • Add an online section to a Faculty’s courseload 
  • Create additional lecture materials, videos, or notes that do not already exist (though existing material must be made accessible virtually via email or on Canvas) 
  • Provide additional, separate lectures to individual students or require faculty to re-teach material provided in class to students with virtual access accommodations 
  • Coordinate, hire, or provide live in-class point-of-view lecture and lab visual and audio participation (e.g. individual microphones for every student in class, personal webcams for each student, camera person following the instructor on a field trip, etc.) 
  • Include experiential, or other alternative hands-on learning components that are essential to complete in the on-campus, in-person learning environment (this may include some labs, field experiences, performances, and other course activities)

It is important to understand that virtual access to a class designed for a seated, in-person experience is not the same as participating in an online course. Virtual access may not provide the same learning experience as being there in-person. Virtual access is only being done as an attempt to provide a reasonable accommodation. If a student wants to complete a degree fully online, then the student should look for an online program. Virtual access should not be used as a substitution for an online program.

In some cases, providing virtual access to an in-person learning experience may not be equally effective for learning and may not qualify as a reasonable accommodation. If a faculty member believes that virtual access will provide a fundamental alteration to the essential objectives of the course activity, then they will engage with SDC to determine whether this is a fundamental alteration according to the Fundamental Alteration Procedure.