March 26, 2024  |  Academic Affairs Units, Instructional Updates, Timely Announcements

Sharing the message & newsletter sent on 2/29/2024  from Accessibility Resource Center Director Shannon Aylesworth

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the semesterly newsletter of the Accessibility Resource Center. In this second issue, we answer frequently asked questions, provide timely reminders for the end of the spring semester and updates on ARC happenings – including an invite to register for a March 7 workshop on concepts and tools in Canvas for making your curriculum accessible.  

Accessibility is a shared responsibility. I look forward to continuing to partner with each of you to create an inclusive and accessible university experience for all students. Please visit our website to learn more about ARC and email us at with any questions.  


Q: Why do I receive a notification of accommodation after the semester begins? What is the best way to proceed when I receive a notification of accommodation late into the semester?  

A student may request accommodation at any point during the semester. A student may also apply for accommodation services with ARC at any point in the semester.  

During the initial interview when the accommodation plan is developed, the Access Specialists discuss the importance of notifying instructors of their accommodation(s) early in the semester and include this reminder in email messages about preparing for the semester. Students are required to acknowledge this responsibility to notify instructors of their accommodations in a timely manner when they review and sign the Rights and Responsibilities policy each semester. This policy also clarifies that if the student does not inform their instructor in advance about accommodation needs, ARC cannot enforce the accommodation retroactively. Access Specialists regularly inform returning and new students who are recently approved for an accommodation plan that the instructor needs to be notified to provide the accommodation services.  

Q: What is the best practice for communicating with a student about their accommodation(s)? 

While the Provost requires a link to the Secretary of the University’s Syllabus Links in your syllabus, best practice is to include a statement in your syllabus in a prominent location inviting students to meet with you during office hours to discuss implementation of their accommodations as early as possible. Verbally invite students to discuss their accommodation needs with you as well, and use the Import from Commons” tool in your Canvas courses to upload the ARC resource page, which explains the process of applying for academic accommodations and provides contact information for ARC offices at each UWM campus.  

ARC encourages students to email faculty and instructional staff before or during the first week of the semester to schedule a meeting when they can discuss implementation of their accommodations. We encourage the students to send a follow-up email after the meeting as well to summarize the decision about implementation of their accommodations. Please feel free to reach out to your students as soon as you receive a notification of accommodation. Many students with disabilities in the first years of college are still learning how to advocate for themselves and any assistance that we (the instructors and the ARC) can offer to encourage their use of accommodation services is appreciated.  

Register now for “Strategies for Ensuring Accessibility in Canvas” Workshop March 7

ARC and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning are partnering to offer a workshop for faculty and instructional staff on Thursday, March 7 from 1-3 p.m. in Engelmann B73. Register Now.

In “Strategies for Ensuring Accessibility in Canvas,” we will review concepts and tools in Canvas that help make curriculum accessible and will provide hands-on activities for you to apply what you learn to your own Canvas course sites. Participants will walk away with:

  • A better understanding of how students with disabilities interact with course content in Canvas.
  • Knowledge about accessibility features and uses in Canvas.
  • Experience with strategies to incorporate when creating accessible content in Word documents, Power Point presentations, or PDFs to be uploaded and published on Canvas.
  • Knowledge of how to use accessibility checkers in Canvas.

Preparing for Midterms and Final Exams

If you have students with alternative testing accommodations enrolled in your course(s) and you want ARC to administer your test(s), a testing agreement must be completed before the student can schedule their test. The testing agreement is between faculty or instructional staff and the ARC. The agreement informs how you want us to administrator the test for your student(s). The testing agreement can be accessed online through PROFconnect 

April 24 is the deadline for students to schedule final exams or exams during the final exam period to be taken in ARC. Please help us accommodate your student by ensuring the testing agreement is completed well before the deadline. Students have been advised that ARC cannot accept requests to schedule a test on or after April 25.  

To support the minimally distracting environment, ARC uses a block scheduling format for final exams. Course finals scheduled in the morning will start at 8 a.m., and course finals that are scheduled in the afternoon will start at 1 p.m. No exams are administered on Study Day.  

ARC Presentations to Governance Committees

ARC Director Shannon Aylesworth delivered a presentation at the Jan. 19 Faculty Senate meeting and the Feb. 15 Academic Staff Senate meeting, addressing faculty and instructional staff concerns about a notetaking software accommodation (Glean) and appropriate student use of academic flexibility accommodations. For those of you who were unable to attend, feel free to view the slide deck. 

AHEAD External Review of ARC

The Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) professional organization is conducting an external review of the ARC this spring. The reviewer assigned to work with us is Adam Meyer, Director of Student Accessibility Services from the University of Central Florida. According to AHEAD, the external review will:   

  • provide a thorough and expert assessment of institutional policies, practices, and activities related to access for individuals with disabilities; 
  • strategically consider how current best-practice standards and philosophical models can be applied at the institution; and  
  • provide a comprehensive report of findings, recommendations, and strategies for enhancing equity for individuals with disabilities in higher education.

In addition to the ARC staff, several faculty, staff, students, and administrators from units across UWM will be meeting with AHEAD reviewer during the site visit next week (March 4 and 5). We appreciate everyone’s time investment in this process and in accessibility in general. We look forward to the valuable insight and the work that will follow due to this review, in line with our continual aim of working together as a campus to enhance student accessibility at UWM. 


Shannon Aylesworth (she, her, hers)
Director, Accessibility Resource Center
Division of Academic Affairs