I'm a Math professor. I teach a face-to-face calculus course, and I'm in the habit of distributing handwritten quiz keys online.

I'm informed by a colleague that she believes that this style of distributing quiz keys (posting handwritten keys online) is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Can anybody confirm this, or weigh in on it, or let me know what they do in order to be compliant? I really don't want to stop posting keys, but I also want to (read, must) comply with the ADA.

  • 2
    What do you mean by "keys"? Solutions to the quiz problems? And what's the ADA issue? Is it the handwriting, since that would keep visually impaired students from using screen readers? (That's the only issue I can think of, but I'm not an expert in these issues. My gut feeling is that this is the sort of situation where you do whatever seems reasonable and then provide appropriate accommodations if anyone needs them, but of course I'll defer to people who actually know what they are talking about with the ADA.) Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 21:41
  • @anonymous, yes, it's the issue with screen readers, but I doubt a screen reader does a very good job with LaTeX equations, either. Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 22:11

2 Answers 2


ADA requires you to accommodate the students you have. If you have a student who cannot read the hand written documents because they have a disability, you must distribute them in a way the student can access them. Your disability services office should be able to advise you.

Providing searchable, typed documents would help some students with disabilities and also some students without disabilities, so it would be nice to do. I recommend the universal instruction design approach.

A UID book


This post from the National Federation of the Blind's site may provide you with an idea of the capabilities of screen readers designed to handle LaTeX. The post goes into more detail on how to make STEM accessible to visually challenged students.

However, I think Anonymous Physicist is correct in saying you would only be out of compliance if you failed to provide this accommodation to a student covered under ADA who was directly requesting it from you.

At the College level, ADA only requires that the institution make the services available to students that seek them out. Unlike in primary and secondary education where the school is also required to advocate for the student, advocacy is the responsibility of the college student, and they have to notify the school, submit the necessary documentation, usually with a campus accessibility service, and then seek out the accommodation for themselves. That means that they are supposed to notify the instructor of any accommodations they are entitled to under ADA and work with the instructor and the accessibility office to coordinate those accommodations.

I also think Anonymous Physicist gives you good advice to get in touch with the director of your institution's accessibility office. They may be in a position to set you up with publishing software for assistive technologies. They may even have the resources to take your handwritten answer keys and convert them into LaTeX documents.

You may want to consider switching to LaTeX anyway for the points that Anonymous Physicist brought up, that it could help students that do not qualify for ADA accommodations. Things like Spotlight search in Mac OS X will likely be able to index a LaTeX file.

Another advantage would be that if you are in the habit of distributing prior semester keys as study guides, and you have a semester somewhere in the future where you have a visually challenged student, all of the documents will already be in a format you can provide them without the need to convert them.

  • Last time I talked to the accessible technology people they had never heard of LaTeX. Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 2:49
  • @AnonymousPhysicist Sorry, I was trying to give you credit for mentioning the idea of going to speak with the Accessibility Office for guidance. I expanded on that with a suggestion that the OPs school may have services to assist in transitioning. I apologize if it made it sound like I was putting words in your mouth.
    – AMR
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 3:46
  • You didn't. Unnecessary words to reach minimum. Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 3:55

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