A Legacy from Tim and Kim Nolan
Tim and Kim Nolan have dedicated their lives to championing an accessible environment for students and other persons with disabilities both at McMaster and in the broader community. Tim spent his entire career at McMaster in disability services, providing support and guidance related to academic accommodations for students, and supporting the entire McMaster community in the process. In recognition of his contributions and legacy in May 2022, the new SAS Testing Centre was named The Tim Nolan Testing Centre. In 2022 Tim and Kim continued their extraordinary commitment to students with disabilities with the creation of the new Kim and Tim Nolan SAS Graduate Student Award which supports graduate students who demonstrate academic excellence, are enrolled in a Social Sciences program, and who are registered with SAS. Preference will be given to students in the Social Work program. This is the first donor-funded bursary for graduate students registered with SAS. McMaster and the broader disability community are lucky to have such champions.
Contributors: Claudia Russell (University Advancement)
Student Accessibility Services (SAS) provides academic accommodation for students with permanent and interim/temporary disabilities. We work closely with faculty in supporting academic accommodations. Each accommodation is specifically tailored to the student’s needs.
Academic Accommodations can include:
- Extended time to complete tests, midterms and exams
- Extended time to complete class assignments
- Small group testing rooms and alone rooms
- Alternate formats of tests, readers and scribes; computer use for testing; memory aids, speech-to-text, Kurzweil, Math Type and other assistive technology
- Accessible technology in class (e.g., for students who are hard of hearing)
- Day of rest between exams or exam bookings during specific times during the day
- Class notes
- Learning strategists
In Fall 2022, SAS administered 7,500 tests and midterms (not including final exams) in the Tim Nolan Testing Centre.
Contributors: Andrijana Olaizola, Mei-Ju Shih, Student Accessibility Services
Partnering to Provide Accurate Captioning Accommodations in Echo360
Machine-generated closed captions are a step towards accessible video content, but accuracy shortcomings from Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) can create barriers for how students can meaningfully engage with the content. In partnership between Student Accessibility Services (SAS), Library Accessibility Services (LAS) and Campus Classroom Technologies (CCT), accurate human-transcribed video captions are made available to any student seeking this accommodation for Echo360 videos.
Contributors: Campus Classroom Technologies
Faculty of Science Piloting New Accessibility and Accommodation Officer
The Faculty of Science is piloting a new position, the Faculty Accessibility & Accommodation Officer (FAAO). This position is a team member within the Office of the Associate Dean of Science (Academic) and acts as a liaison for instructors, students, and Student Accessibility Services (SAS).
The position helps these McMaster Community Members with:
- Navigating accessibility and accommodation requests,
- Consulting on strategies for accommodation implementation,
- Consulting on how to implement universal design for learning, and
- Questions about accessibility, accommodations, disability, mental health, etc.
In consultation with Student Accessibility Services, the FAAO has created a guide for Instructors and a companion guide for students to help navigate systems in Mosaic and the SAS Clockwork platform to find important information.
Initial feedback from instructors and students has been overwhelmingly positive. We hope that the position will serve as a model to help make connections across central and faculty units in a coordinated fashion to best serve our students, faculty and staff.
Contributors: Sarah Robinson, Jade Gilbert, Office of the Associate Dean (Academic), Faculty of Science
Accessibility and Inclusion Training a Priority in Supporting McMaster Student Leadership Development
Working with Kate Brown, Accessibility Program Manager, McMaster’s Equity and Inclusion Office provided training on accessibility and disability inclusion for 74 Archway mentors and 136 community advisors. Training material included accessibility and disability inclusion definitions, concepts and frameworks; practical application of digital accessibility tools and concepts; and information regarding McMaster’s professional and peer support resources. Other training addressed topics such as adopting anti-oppressive practices, supporting equity-deserving student groups, and responding to disclosures of sexual violence.
Additionally, the Archway and Residence Life student leader training course was developed with accessibility and inclusion as a leading priority. The training team delivered training materials in accessible formats including video-recorded presentations with voice-overs and captions, ensuring recommendations from McMaster’s Accessibility Hub website were closely followed.
Contributors: Katie Fitzgerald (Transition Program Coordinator, Student Success Centre), Andrew Campbell (Training and Development Coordinator, Residence Life), and the Residence Life Training Team
Accessibility Integrated into Ongoing Supports Available from the SCC’s Writing and Academic Skills Program
The Student Success Centre’s (SSC) Writing and Academic Skills Program has continued to thread a focus of accessible design and accessibility-specific supports into the design and re-design of the Program’s service delivery model. Examples of 2021-2022 updates and continued supports for accessibility and inclusion include:
- Training: All writing advisors completed asynchronous professional development modules that cover pedagogy, with a focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
- Virtual events and appointments: Mac101 and the Welcome Week workshop series had synchronous and asynchronous activities to support first-year students with their transition to university. Captioned recordings were made digitally accessible using Echo360. All appointment types featured options for in-person or virtual sessions.
- Resources: The Student Success Centre’s online service delivery included academic skills development tip sheets following accessibility standards. An open-educational resource video series developed by the SSC and Sandbox Inc. addressed essential university topics like critical thinking and navigating the transition to university. Additionally, an animated video series was developed to address specific skills topics: note-taking, writing, procrastination, and online learning.
The team has also continued to create strong connections with Student Accessibility Services to provide referrals for individual appointments.
Contributors: Jenna Storey (Academic Skills Program Coordinator, Student Success Centre), and Sean Beaudette (Associate Director, Outreach, Transition and Academic Success, Student Success Centre)