It is essential that we be mindful of the accessibility needs of students. Faculty that have received an Accommodation Notice regarding a student in their class should ensure that the student’s needs are being addressed. Please contact Student Disability Services or Distributed Education for assistance on this important matter.


Students in an online class can vary by gender, race, ethnicity, culture, marital status, age, communication skills, learning abilities, interests, physical abilities, social skills, sensory abilities, values, learning preferences, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, and other factors. Many of these individuals might never request a disability-related accommodation, but will nevertheless benefit from accessible design.

For example, many English language learners benefit from captions on videos so that they can see the spelling of new vocabulary. Other students learning new vocabulary in a technical class can benefit from these captions as well. And everyone benefits from course content that is presented in a logical, consistent manner.

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., use simple and direct language, spell out acronyms, define terms, and avoid/define jargon).

- Make instructions and expectations clear for activities, projects, and assigned 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.

- Provide adequate opportunities for practice.

- 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 feedback on project parts and offer corrective opportunities.

- 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 student responses, test items, portfolios, presentations, discussions).

For Course Web Pages, Documents, Images, and Videos:

- Use clear, consistent layouts and organization schemes for presenting content.

- Structure headings (using style features like Header 1 and Header 2 built into the learning management system, Word, PowerPoint, PDFs, etc.) and use built-in designs/layouts/features that already are accessibility friendly (like document templates–and ordered and unordered lists, tables, and columns, all of which are available in the toolbar).

- Use descriptive wording for hyperlink text (e.g., "Library Resource Center" rather than "click here").

- When possible, minimize the use of PDFs for downloaded course materials (and make sure they are tagged for accessibility); Word, HTML, and text documents are widely-accessible formats.

- Provide concise alternative text descriptions of all relevant content presented within images.

- Use large, bold fonts on uncluttered slides with plain backgrounds.

- Use color combinations that are high contrast and can be read by those who are colorblind.

- All downloaded readings, including those from textbook publishers, must be in accessible formats.

- Caption and transcribe video and audio content.

- When recording video segments, be sure to audibly describe all essential visual information that is being conveyed (through actions or in images, charts, diagrams, etc.).

- Any non-“talking head” lecture video content (e.g., clips from news reports, TV shows, documentaries, movies, videotaped workshop panels, etc.) in a course will likely need audio description. Please alert student accessibility services to instances of this type of video, as it might need to be sent to a vendor specializing in audio description.

- If the course includes linked content housed on a third-party website, is it accessible where it lives? Is the video captioned? Does the podcast contain a transcript? Is the web page screen-reader friendly and include image descriptions? (If not, is alternate, accessible content available elsewhere on the web that can be linked to? Or should the rights to this content be secured and it be included within the course where it can be made accessible?)