Tips for Accommodations Online

Tips for Accommodations Online

Wheelchair Image - Decorative

While building our classes online, let’s keep in mind how to allow for academic accommodations and the provision of accessible content for students with disabilities. Thankfully, we live in an age where these accommodations are largely available to us. Here are some ideas for how you can incorporate these accommodations into your online course:

Accommodated Online Quizzes & Exams

If you are using online proctoring for exams, please make sure to communicate this to your students prior to the scheduled exam date. Students with DRC registered disabilities should take their tests and quizzes in the same format and setting as the rest of the class. It will be the Instructor’s responsibility to provide testing accommodations through the online proctoring platforms. If a student’s accommodations require extra time on exams, the online exam must be extended per their accommodation. If this student needs breaks during exams, add in their total break time to their exam.

Adjusting Exam Time and Attempts in Canvas

ADA Accessibility

Accessibility Guide within Canvas

Video: ADA Accessibility for a Word Document with Bettina Petersen, PLNU Faculty

Video: Accommodation Strategies in Canvas, Canvas Instructure

Additional Accessibility Resources from Canvas’ Site

SALSA. Styled & Accessible Learning Service Agreements (SALSA) is an alternative to the default Syllabus in Canvas. Salsa is an open source web application being developed at Utah State University.

UDOIT. The Universal Design Online content Inspection Tool, or UDOIT (pronounced, “You Do It”) enables faculty to identify accessibility issues in their Canvas course content. It will scan a course, generate a report, and provide resources on how to address common accessibility issues.  It was created by the Center for Distributed Learning (CDL) at the University of Central Florida (UCF).

Significant contributions to the guide on Canvas were made by:

  • John Raible: Instructional Designer for the Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida
  • Nancy Swenson: Instructional Designer for the Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida

Changes Due to Online Format

“Keep in mind students will be acclimating to the majority of their classes being offered in a hybrid and online format. Students may find new barriers to accessing course content or ways their disability impacts learning.  For example, students may no longer need a note taking accommodation if you remove a live synchronous lecture component from your class, but students who have an accommodation of captioning may need additional time to complete assignments if there are delays due to heightened requests for captions.”

~ from the University of Cincinnati, Center for Enhancement of Teaching & Learning.

Screen Readers and Browsers and Subtitles

From Canvas: Canvas officially supports the following screen reader and browser combinations:

“Official browser support means that these browsers are actively tested against Canvas code. Canvas may be able to be used in any other browser or screen reader not listed, but official support is not provided. Learn more about supported Canvas browsers.”

DRC Registered Accommodations

The following information is from the DRC website: The PLNU Disability Resource Center (DRC) is the point of contact regarding disability issues for all PLNU undergraduate and graduate students. The scope of accommodations provided by PLNU are based on official medical documentation, availability of resources, personnel, and discretion of the Director of the DRC. Accommodations are to be reasonable, not impose an undue hardship on the operation of the program, and not fundamentally alter the academic and technical standards.

Accommodating DRC Students in Canvas with Nichole Hope-Moore
March 20, 2020

Possible academic accommodations at PLNU may include, but are not limited to:

  • Electronic Textbooks
  • Exams: Alternative Environment
  • Exams: Time Extensions
  • Note-taking Services
  • Reader Services
  • Recording Lectures
  • Reduced Course Load
  • Assistive Technology
  • Scribe

Requesting Reasonable Accommodations

Current and prospective students seeking an accommodation must follow the reasonable accommodation procedures outlined in the Disability and Reasonable Accommodations Policy for Current and Prospective Students. After the student files the required documentation, the DRC, in conjunction with the student, will develop an academic adjustment or accommodation plan (AP) to meet that student’s specific learning needs. The DRC will thereafter email the student’s AP to all faculty who teach courses in which the student is enrolled each semester. The AP will be implemented in all such courses.

For further information, please contact the DRC directly at:

Disability Resource Center 
Phone: (619) 849-2533
Fax: (619) 849-7023

Universal Design for Learning (Online)

“Thoughtfully designed online instruction has proven to enhance learner’s engagement with the course, the instructor, and with one another. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an instructional design framework offering flexibility and adaptability to meet the needs of increasingly diverse learners and maximizing engagement. In online as well as any learning context, it provides an intentional and systematic approach for building an environment that accommodates diversity and difference between and among the students.” ~ Hollingshead and Carr-Chellman (Feb. 2019)

The following example strategies are adapted from the article, “Engaging Learners in Online Environments Utilizing Universal Design for Learning Principles.”

Six Example Strategies for Online Teaching Aligned with UDL

Include multiple means of engagement.

  • Weekly written communication with students.
  • Assign a student or two to be the official note-takers during a synchronous session. This allows students to be fully engaged in the activity of the synchronous session. Assigning “official note-taker” to different students each synchronous session allows students to be vested in each others’ learning.

Provide multiple means of representation.

  • Posting flexible presentations. For example, “instead of posting static slides, instructors should provide students with a combination of slides with text, links to video clips, audio recordings, and graphics.”