Include a personalized accessibility affirmation on your syllabus. The syllabus itself should be formatted for accessibility in the same manner as any other digital document. See our example accessible syllabus.
The course syllabus communicates more than just due dates and contact information. You can set a tone of respect and inclusivity in your classroom by providing a syllabus that includes the U of M’s disability accommodation statement with a personalized touch and in an accessible and usable format.
Watch the Formatting an Accessible Syllabus Introduction video playlist below to see a syllabus transformed using formatting techniques for accessibility and usability:
Dos and Don'ts
Provide a Digital Syllabus
At its core, the syllabus is a simple document. Whether you use Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or create a PDF, you should ensure that students can access a digital copy.
Consider providing the syllabus as a Google Doc to improve usability for your students and yourself:
- You can link to the Google Doc from your course website.
- You can update the document and have it be "live" in your course website without downloading and re-uploading.
- Students can interact with it as a digital resource, without having to download it and keep track of it on their personal device (though they still can download it if they want to).
Don't provide only paper copies of your syllabus to your students.
Format Your Syllabus Accessibly
How you format and structure your document can make your syllabus easier to scan (a usability factor) and make the information accessible for adaptive technology users (an accessibility factor).
Format your syllabus using the accessibility core skills.
Since screen readers can't tell when important text is bolded, place a statement in front of the bolded text to provide two emphasis cues: "This is important."
Tables in Google are not fully accessible. If you must use a table (i.e., for your course schedule), keep it simple. See our page on tables for more information.
Don't assume your syllabus is accessible simply because it is digital.
Include the UMN Disability Accommodation Statement
Any syllabus shared with University of Minnesota students must address nine areas, one of which is disability accommodations, according to faculty senate policies. However, instructors may:
- Copy the exact language, or
- Include references to the policies, or
- Include their own statements about the policies
See a full list of requirements on the Recommended Policy Statements for Syllabi, including the Board of Regents policy on Disability Services).
Include the University Policy Library's recommended disability accommodation statement on your syllabus.
Personalize the syllabus to your particular teaching, learning, and course context. Tell students exactly how you’ll approach core learning expectations and course processes, and make accessibility and usability a priority. Doing so creates a “warm” syllabus and can contribute to a warm classroom climate.
Consider also adapting and personalizing the University-mandated policy statement. See the Examples section.
Don't forget to include a disability accommodation statement on your syllabus.
For more information, please see the Disability Resource Center website or email [email protected].