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Digital Classroom Accessibility

Faculty should consider accessibility concerns and how to handle student accommodations when teaching online or using educational technology tools in in-person courses. The Department of Accessibility Services has prepared a list of faculty FAQs related to implementing accommodations remotely.

Best Practices

Remain Flexible

Faculty should clearly state expectations, but they should remain prepared to offer flexibility in deadlines and requirements to students as needed.

This applies both to students who normally receive accommodations and to those who may face extenuating circumstances, including difficulty accessing technology, internet connections, and/or other family, travel, or health concerns.

Follow online Teaching Best Practices

  • Speak clearly and slowly when lecturing or engaging in online discussions.
  • Describe your slides and other visual aids in case any students have vision impairments or have temporarily lost video access due to poor internet connectivity.
  • When recording and posting video, break lectures and material up into short, lively segments (ideally 5-10 minutes). This both keeps viewers' attention and makes videos easier to load and stream.
  • For live sessions, always provide a dial-in option so students with limited internet access may still participate.
  • Ensure that your Canvas course adheres to accessibility standards. Please visit this site for instructions on accessibility (including extra-time accommodations) within Canvas.

Use Captions and Transcripts

Use captions and transcripts, as many students will need to review class materials, both lectures and live class sessions, repeatedly.

Live Zoom class sessions should always utilize the cloud recording feature. Along with a video and audio recording, Zoom offers live captioning and automatically generates a transcript for each recording, allowing students who are hard of hearing to review the transcript later. Instructors will need to share the link to each Zoom recording and transcript within the course Canvas site, ideally in a module created for that purpose within the course.
Panopto can be a useful resource for faculty to create and share professional on-demand videos and screen recordings. This tool offers a captioning and recording editor that is user-friendly and efficient. See Panopto Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
Google Slides
Faculty may use Google Slides (via screenshare) and enable live captioning within Google Slides. See Present Slides with Google Captions for more information.
Canvas Studio
The Studio tool in Canvas can also automatically generate captions for your videos, both those you record via Studio and those you import from another source.

Share All Materials via the Course Canvas Site

In addition to posting prerecorded lectures and live Zoom session recordings within Canvas, faculty should also share all slides, notes, and other relevant materials within the Canvas module for each class session.

Annotating your slideshow with notes will enhance understanding for students who are viewing the material on their own.

By keeping course materials and assignments centralized within Canvas, faculty will minimize student confusion and will streamline student access to all relevant aspects of the course.

Offer Accommodations

You should continue to work closely with the Department of Accessibility Services to offer appropriate accommodations to students in a remote teaching situation. Creative solutions may include:

  • Students with hearing impairments may use closed captioning and/or transcripts (see above).
  • Students with fine motor difficulties may record and submit verbal, rather than written, responses.
  • Students requiring extra time may be accommodated through Canvas quizzes.
  • Students requiring a notetaker may use technology recommended by the Department of Accessibility Services. For more information, students may find more resources on Note-taking Assistance on the DAS website.