Including a welcoming accessibility statement on your course syllabus will encourage students who encounter accessibility challenges to communicate with you regardless of whether they are registered with Student Accessibility Services. The best syllabus statements are friendly, supportive, and personal messages to your students, and don’t read like boilerplate policy statements.
Why an Accessibility Statement and not an Accommodations Statement?
While information about official accommodations should certainly be included on your syllabus, a statement that only directs students to Student Accessibility Services without offering faculty assistance might signal some of the following implicit biases, as outlined by Project Refocus:
Disabled students cannot navigate the curriculum independently and will need support. The course design is fine; the disabled student just can’t achieve.
Instructors should not respond to requests for assistance from disabled students as they would to requests from other students. The disability service office must always be involved, regardless of the flexibility requested.
Disabled students are untrustworthy; they may ask for assistance that is unjustified and try to take advantage of the system.
Disabled students need help from a disability expert to identify accommodations or strategies that will provide them with access.
Disabled students will require extra time and attention; they are an added burden.
The course instructor and student cannot find a solution to an identified barrier.
On the other hand, accessibility statements that remind students of the availability of official accommodations and also invite communication between students and faculty can reflect an instructor’s commitment to supporting diversity and the collaborative aspects of course design, teaching, and learning.
Sample Accessibility Statements
The three accessibility statements below may offer inspiration on how to communicate instructors’ commitment to inclusive learning environments. Please feel free to use them as-is or customize them to reflect your own voice.
Diversity and Disability Statement
Our institution values diversity and inclusion; we are committed to a climate of mutual respect and full participation. Our goal is to create learning environments that are usable, equitable, inclusive and welcoming. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion or accurate assessment or achievement, please notify the instructor as soon as possible. Disabled students are also welcome to contact Student Accessibility Services to discuss a range of options to removing barriers in the course, including accommodations.
Usability, Disability and Design (Sample 1)
I am committed to creating a course that is inclusive in its design. If you encounter barriers, please let me know immediately so that we can determine if there is a design adjustment that can be made or if an accommodation might be needed to overcome the limitations of the design. I am always happy to consider creative solutions as long as they do not compromise the intent of the assessment or learning activity. You are also welcome to contact Student Accessibility Services to begin this conversation or to establish accommodations for this or other courses. I welcome feedback that will assist me in improving the usability and experience for all students.
Usability, Disability and Design (Sample 2)
Your success in this class is important to me. We will all need accommodations because we all learn differently. If there are aspects of this course that prevent you from learning or that form barriers to your inclusion, please let me know as soon as possible. Together we’ll develop strategies that can enable you to succeed in the course. I encourage you to visit Student Accessibility Services to determine how you could improve your learning as well. If you need official accommodations, you have a right to have these met. There is also a range of resources on campus, including the Writing Center, Residential College Tutors, and Academic Strategies.
“Writing a Syllabus” Guide
The Poorvu Center considers the syllabus a critical and foundational communication between instructors and students. To support instructors’ development of thoughtful and effective syllabi, we offer the “Writing a Syllabus” guide elsewhere on this site.