Campus Group Works to Enhance Statewide Instructional Accessibility Goals

The UT System recently adopted a policy that reiterates its commitment to providing and supporting a teaching and learning environment that is accessible to all.

The policy requires that all campuses and institutes provide information, materials, and technology that are accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those who use assistive technologies. The Accessibility Policy went into effect on October 16.

Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek has charged a team of faculty, staff, and students to develop a strategy to exceed policy requirements and further the campus’s accessibility goals. Heather Hartman, summer sessions coordinator is chairing the accessibility implementation team. The team has worked to launch a new website to promote awareness and provide resources for the campus community.

“We have developed an accessibility program for the Knoxville campus that complies with the requirements and recently convened faculty, staff, and student focus groups to review and comment on the draft. The resulting program will include a timeline and proposed budget to address some of the more challenging issues we face in achieving accessibility on a campus this size,” said Hartman.

Hartman said that part of the focus involves helping faculty to provide instructional materials including accessible documents, alternate format textbooks with accessible support materials, and closed-captioned or scripted videos for all students.

“Reaching some of our goals will have a longer horizon and will be accomplished in phases based on established priorities,” she said.

Next semester, faculty will receive information from the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center about workshops promoting Universal Design for Learning, which makes courses more accessible overall for everyone. More information can be found under the Training Opportunities tab on the website.

If you have questions, please contact Heather Hartman, hhartman@utk.edu.