Note: This information is meant to assist Penn State instructors or other staff that been specifically asked to complete an Alternate Access Plan as part of a Penn State software evaluation process. If you have not been asked to complete this process it is not required.

The Alternate Access Plan (A.A.P. or AAP) is a required by our legally binding agreement with The Office of Civil Rights, Department of Education. Penn State is committed to providing education to all people, regardless of disabilities. In cases where purchased software is not accessible, an exemption from accessibility requirements is allowed, but only if an AAP is submitted and approved.

The AAP essentially asks the question: “What will you do if a person with a disability gets involved in your program and is impacted by the lack of accessibility on this technology.” It is intended to be a “Plan B” that is created and then brought out when needed. The Plan does not require the person to have an identical experience, but should offer an experience that can provide a similar body of knowledge and learning opportunities as that gained by people who do not have the affected disabilities. It is usually created at the time that the technology is acquired, and is a core part of the University purchasing process. There is no one way to write an AAP. Each situation is different, and when put in to use for a specific person will be different. The AAP should be a general idea of what to do to work around the limitations of the technology.

Note: At other institutions, the term Equally Effective Alternate Access (E.E.A.A.P.) plan may be used.

Examples of Alternate Access Plans

Although every situation is different, it can help to have a few examples to see how AAPs have been created.

  1. An instructor in an online Spanish course has an assignment that requires students to record 5 minutes of audio with a group doing a speaking assignment, and there is a student in the class with a motor disability. For this example, the audio recording program the instructor wants to use doesn’t work with the student’s assistive technology. To provide an equivalent experience for this student, the instructor instead has the student and group all join a conference call on a standard phone system, and they do their assignment live for the instructor. The work is done, and the student is able to participate in the class to the same degree even though the same software was not used.
  2. An instructor in a statistics course is doing a section on data visualization for a certain mathematical model, and there is a student with a visual disability. The software being used is accessible, but the 3D display of the data cannot be interpreted by the student’s screen reader. Instead, the instructor prepares a written description of the exact data being shown in the class. While the rest of the class is looking at the 3D display, the student with the visual disability can read the description, and understand the theory along with the rest of the students.
  3. An online tool is used during one of the sections of a course, and it is not accessible for any student using a screen reader. However, it is found that the full desktop version of the tool is fully accessible. A plan is made for any students using a screen reader to obtain licenses and install the software on their computer for use in the course. Doing this allow the student to have the same experience as the others with only a minor amount of setup at the start of the course.

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