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Many faculty may be preparing online course content for the first time in Fall 2020. Please see below for frequently asked questions about accommodating students with disabilities in online course material. 

For more information, please visit the Student Accessibility Services website

For course web pages, documents, images, and videos:

  • Use clear, consistent layouts and organization schemes for presenting content.  
  • Structure headings (using style features built into the learning management system, Word, PowerPoint, PDFs, etc.) and use built-in designs/layouts (e.g., for PPT slides). 
  • Use descriptive wording for hyperlink text (e.g., "DO-IT Knowledge Base" rather than "click here".
  • Minimize the use of PDFs, especially when presented as an image.
  • Make sure the text is accessible by testing to see if you can copy and paste it. 
  • Always offer a text-based alternative as well. 
  • Provide concise alternative-text descriptions of content presented within images. 
  • Use large, bold fonts on uncluttered pages with plain backgrounds. 
  • Use color combinations that are high contrast and can be read by those who are colorblind. 
  • Make sure all content and navigation is accessible using the keyboard.
  • Caption or transcribe video and audio content if requested as an accommodation.

With respect to instructional methods:  

  • Assume students have a wide range of technology skills and provide options for gaining the technology skills needed for course participation. 
  • Present content in multiple ways (e.g., in a combination of text, video, audio, and/or image format).  
  • Address a wide range of language skills as you write content (e.g., spell out terms rather than relying on acronyms alone, define terms).  
  • Make instructions and expectations clear for activities, projects, and readings.  
  • Make examples and assignments relevant to learners with a wide variety of interests and backgrounds.  
  • Offer outlines and other scaffolding tools to help students learn.  
  • Allow adequate time for activities, projects, and tests (e.g., give details of project assignments in the syllabus so that students can start working on them early).  
  • Provide options for communicating and collaborating that are accessible to individuals with a variety of disabilities.  
  • Provide options for demonstrating learning (e.g., different types of test items, portfolios, presentations, discussions).
  • Assume that all academic activities will require some sort of accommodation (e.g. tests, visual and audio content, notetaking).    

You are still legally obligated to provide online accommodations to students registered with SAS. However, the delivery of accommodations will require special attention and look different than in-class accommodations. Please follow the SAS letter of accommodation provided to you by the student.

If you have a concern about an accommodation being delivered further consultation with SAS may be necessary by emailing

Students will be accessing their exam accommodations remotely with typically 50% extra time as stated in the student’s letter of accommodation. You are able to set the extra time in Canvas. A tutorial for how to do this is available here. If you need additional assistance or have questions about how to use Canvas please contact Jay Tarby at

For general questions regarding accommodations or questions regarding specific students’ testing accommodations, contact

If you receive a letter of accommodation with recording of lectures listed as an accommodation you are legally obligated to provide this accommodation. Not recording in-person classes and synchronous sessions in Zoom creates a major barrier for students with disabilities, as well as students who are ill, and students who cannot come to campus.

If a student has a letter of accommodation with an attendance accommodation listed and has completed an SAS attendance agreement, you are required to provide this accommodation. This may mean the student will not participate synchronously and may need alternate participation or course activities if agreed to by the student, faculty member and SAS.

It is conceivable to imagine an accommodation related to trauma or anxiety that would require that a student be permitted to leave their camera off. SAS will consult with the student and instructor on reasonable alternatives to video recording for students with documented disabilities, such as using audio or text instead of video. If faculty choose to invite students to use their video cameras during class, they are encouraged to recognize it may not be possible for all students.