Faculty Resources

Faculty Resources

Per CUNY policy, it is the faculty’s responsibility to ensure that the accommodations determined and approved by Student Disability Services are provided to the student in a timely and responsive manner. Please contact SDS for additional information.

CUNY’s Council on Student Disability Issues (COSDI) publishes a Faculty Guide to Teaching College Students with Disabilities to assist faculty in successfully carrying out their central role in relation to the University’s commitment to providing access to students with disabilities. In the guide faculty will find information about various types of disabilities, the functional limitations of students with these disabilities, recommended accommodations, and helpful suggestions on how to successfully meet students’ needs in the classroom and other college settings.

Note: COSDI is in the process of updating the faculty resource guide to better reflect more current modalities of accessibility that are socially, rather than medically, focused.

CUNY Policy & Resources

Syllabus Statement

Sample Syllabus Statements

All instructors are encouraged to include in their syllabi a statement inviting students with disabilities to meet with Student Disability Services to discuss making arrangements for accommodations. This statement both normalizes the accommodation process and helps to create a positive and welcoming environment for students with disabilities. The statement also creates a collaborative model for determining and implementing legally mandated accommodations and serves as a reminder to students who need the accommodations that they must initiate these arrangements. Below are a few recommended statements you may choose to use.
  • It is Graduate Center and CUNY policy to provide appropriate accommodations to students with disabilities. Any student with a disability who may need accommodations in this class is advised to speak directly to the manager of Student Disability Services, located in Student Affairs, room 7301, or call 212-817-7400 as early in the semester as possible. All discussions will remain confidential. While offices are operating remotely, email Clare Wilson at cwilson1@gc.cuny.edu or visit the SDS website, cuny.is/disabilityservices.​
  • Students with disabilities who believe that they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the manager of Student Disability Services, located in Student Affairs, room 7301, or call 212-817-7400 as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. While offices are operating remotely, email Clare Wilson at cwilson1@gc.cuny.edu or visit the SDS website, cuny.is/disabilityservices.​
  • Students with disabilities and medical conditions are encouraged to contact the Office of the VP for Student Affairs for assistance and accommodation. For information and an appointment contact the manager of Student Disability Services, located in Student Affairs, room 7301, or call 212-817-7400. While offices are operating remotely, email Clare Wilson at cwilson1@gc.cuny.edu or visit the SDS website, cuny.is/disabilityservices.​

General Resources

General Resources

Resources for Online Course Accessibility @ CUNY

CUNY has created a Blackboard Course to learn how to get started building online courses that are usable and accessible. It is available via the “Accessibility Training” tab after logging into Blackboard, under the heading “Blackboard Accessibility Course”.

Other accessibility resources:


Distance Learning & Disability Services @ CUNY

Our dedicated faculty across the University are hard at work, preparing for our upcoming transition to distance learning modalities. While engaging in this critical work, please be particularly mindful of the learning and accessibility needs for CUNY’s more than 11,000 students with disabilities.

During this transition to distance learning, CUNY’s faculty remain the University’s most vital resource in ensuring reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. As our faculty prepare to deliver course content via distance learning modalities, I ask that they consider the following overarching principles and key resources:

  • Under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), CUNY college are still required to provide equal access to our University’s academic programs – even in a distance learning environment
  • Student Disability Services (SDS) continues to serve as a key source of technical assistance and support to faculty in determining the best ways to reasonably accommodate students with disabilities in distance learning instructional modalities; please contact the Manager of SDS if you have questions or concerns about how you can best support our students as your transition to an alternative mode of teaching. 
  • The barriers that exist at the intersection of a student’s disability and course design may be different from those posed by the original course format. Some accommodations students used before may no longer apply in distance learning formats, and some accommodations not considered previously may need to be considered now; we appreciate our faculty’s flexibility and collaboration with SDS staff and students with disabilities themselves to meet their accommodation needs in distance learning modalities.

Reasonable Accommodations: A Faculty Guide for Teaching Students with Disabilities was developed specifically for CUNY faculty to provide them with information and best practices to be most effective in meeting the needs of students with disabilities and achieving the goal of equal access. This guide includes helpful information in accommodating students with disabilities in distance learning, including the following two sections:

Technology in the Classroom and for Online Courses

Alternative Text for Students with Disabilities

Please know that Student Disability Services will work closely with our CUNY Office of Student Inclusion Initiatives to ensure that our faculty have the support they need to successfully and meaningfully accommodate students with disabilities. We are grateful to our faculty and to our disability services professionals for their abiding commitment to the access, success, and wellness of students with disabilities.

From Executive Vice Chancellor José Luis Cruz

CUNY Continuity for Students

From Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez
Description: The chancellor is addressing the viewer in a single chest-up shot with captions.

From CATS on Video Captioning

CATS (CUNY Assistive Technology Services) recommends the use of otter.ai to automatically transcribe video content. You can create a free account that comes with 600 free minutes per month. You import your videos and wait between 20 minutes to an hour for a transcribed product (depending on the length of the video). Once a video is transcribed, you can click on the transcript and make any necessary edits.
If you will be using live videos instead of recorded videos, Office 365 has a built-in live captioning feature if you use PowerPoint. CUNY faculty and staff have access to Office 365; you login with your CUNYFirst username (firstname.lastname##@login.cuny.edu) and CUNYFirst password. After clicking on PowerPoint, you can start a new presentation or upload a presentation you already have. After it opens, click on slide show, and click on “always use subtitles”. You can choose to have the captions appear below or above the slide, and have your captions translated to another language by choosing a different subtitle language.
A downside to using the built-in live captioning with Office 365 is that the captions only appear in the PowerPoint you are presenting, and no other files or browser windows during your lecture. If you are just going to be lecturing in your live video, then this will be a great tool.
For students who already use real-time captioning in their f2f classes, GC Student Disability Services has contacted the captioning providers regarding the live captioning features in WebEx, Zoom, and Blackboard Collaborate. These applications do not automatically transcribe your live lectures, and without a captioning provider, an attendee will need to type the captions as you are live. Click here for more information on live captioning with Blackboard Collaborate.
More information and instructions will be available on cats.cuny.edu [cats.cuny.edu] in the coming days as we prepare for this transition.

Update (04-14-20)
Otter.ai is now offering a two month free trial of their upgraded Teams account [u9660004.ct.sendgrid.net] that includes live interactive transcripts for Zoom and other features.

Resources & Virtual Consultation @ TLC

The Teaching and Learning Center has launched a site to support Graduate Center faculty and graduate student instructors [now that] that face-to-face instruction [has been] disrupted this semester. We will be collecting resources on this site going forward.  

GC students should also be aware of additional resources on the campuses where they are teaching. [While] face-to-face instruction [is] interrupted, we [have announced] virtual office hours to offer additional support to community members who have pedagogical questions. 

The TLC has set up a Slack workspace for all CUNY faculty (including adjuncts and GTFs) who need assistance transitioning face-to-face courses to fully online. This space will be active for the remainder of the semester. 

Faculty are able to sign up with CUNY email domains here: https://join.slack.com/t/cuny-co/signup 

The space will be staffed daily by representatives from several CUNY teaching centers, instructional designers, and other interested staff and committed faculty. We’ll do our best to answer questions and direct folks to helpful resources within the community.

Here is a handy guide to using Slack: https://slack.com/resources/using-slack/slack-tutorials

TLC staff will be available to provide individual, virtual consultations on course conversions the week of March 16 for all GC students who are currently teaching and all GC faculty.  

To request a consultation, please fill out this form: https://forms.gle/zHtNRr4fYKU7g26UA

We will get back to registrants with an appointment time and additional details within a day of their registration. 

Remote Consultations and Services @ GCDI

As the university transitions to remote instruction, research, and work, the GC Digital Initiatives team is available for consultations on a wide range of topics related to technology. We invite GC faculty, students, and staff to use this form to set up 30 minute appointments with us. 

All in-person GCDI workshops have been cancelled for the Spring semester and the GC Digital Scholarship Lab is closed until further notice. Other activities, such as working groups, are on pause as the GCDI team supports collective efforts to move university work online.

We encourage the GC community to make use of online resources posted on the GC Digital Initiatives website, including:

From GC Digital Initiatives

Contact SDS

Clare Wilson

Manager of Student Disability Services
Graduate Center
Room 7301.02

Phone 212-817-7413