Making Online Courses Accessible

**If you have a student who is eligible for accommodations in your regular course, they may also be eligible for accommodations in your online course. For questions about a specific student and/or their accommodations, please contact us:

General Accessibility Guidelines

Record Lectures/Discussions & Allow Students to Record

  • Record lectures/discussions and allow students to record—This gives students with disabilities who need frequent breaks or have difficulty focusing/attending the opportunity to go back and listen to sections they might have missed. Confidentiality/privacy concerns can be mitigated by recording the course yourself and posting it on Canvas, which you can delete at the end of the class.
  • Caption all videos and provide transcripts—This allows students with hearing impairments, ESL, attention and learning disabilities, to fully access your content. Here is a video on How to Record Zoom with Audio Transcript Feature. And here is a how to in PDF form.
  • Consider alternatives to video—Zoom may get overwhelming. Consider discussion boards, small group discussions on google docs with report backs, and small groups with text chains and report backs instead of Zoom.
  • Timed exams—If you can, consider alternatives to timed exams, but if you are giving timed exams in your class, here’s how to give your students extra time on Canvas. For information on online proctoring (Respondus) and exam security (Lockdown browser) please visit ETS.
  • Post content into Canvas, Moodle, Google email, MS Word and/or PowerPoint so that content can be read by a screen reader—Be cautious about using media and software outside of these formats, which may not be accessible to all students. PDF is not preferred as many of these documents are not accessible.

Attendance Modification

Ideally, students who receive this accommodation under normal circumstances (i.e. brick & mortar classes) may not need it for online classes, (e.g. students who cannot leave the house can access online classes at home, etc.). That said, there will be students who still need attendance modification for online classes, and they should work together with SDS and their faculty to arrange this as they normally would.

Ways faculty can universally design their courses that minimally impacts students who need attendance modification may include:

  • Be flexible with class meeting times. Does the class have to meet at the regularly scheduled time? Are there asynchronous options that may be more inclusive to all students?
  • Can class meetings be recorded so students can go back and listen at a later time?

Deadline Extensions

As with attendance modification, there may be students who still need this accommodation - those students should identify their need as they normally would and work with faculty and SDS to put this accommodation in place. General tips to universally design the course may include:

  • Be flexible with all deadlines for assignments and projects - we're not going for perfection here
  • Don't penalize for grammar and spelling mistakes - the extra cognitive load of so much typing may be difficult for students

For more information on making your course accessible, check out: Mapping Access, Accessible Teaching In The Time Of COVID-19.

Additional Resources

Finally, if a class moves entirely online, there may be additional accommodations needed in order to make it accessible. SDS will contact faculty directly if any accommodations need to be added or modified for an SDS student. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for any questions or concerns, email