Accommodations in Online Courses

While we hope you will use as many inclusive practices and accessible materials as possible in your online courses, students may still require accommodations or modifications in order to have equal access. You will be notified via an official Faculty Notification Letter of any required accommodations. We’re here to help if you have questions or concerns about implementing any of these accommodations.

Syllabus Statement

Please provide an accessibility statement on any class syllabi. This lets students know that they are welcome in your course and provides them with direction on how to request accommodations. Our template is as follows:

The University of Rochester respects and welcomes students of all backgrounds and abilities. In the event you encounter any barrier(s) to full participation in this course due to the impact of a disability, please contact the Office of Disability Resources. The access coordinators in the Office of Disability Resources can meet with you to discuss the barriers you are experiencing and explain the eligibility process for establishing academic accommodations. You can reach the Office of Disability Resources at

Testing Accommodations

Extended Time

Online Exams

When using Blackboard or other online platforms, the start and end times for the exam should be adjusted for the specific student to include extended time. Avoid using the Force Completion option as loss of network connectivity can cause the test to submit prematurely. 

If another means of managing an exam is selected (such as emailing an exam in a Word document), plan for a way to record the open/close times for the exam and be very clear with the student about the start/end times and how to submit and document that the appropriate amount of time has been taken to complete the exam.

Take-home Exams

Instead of a timed exam that students must complete in one sitting, you may opt for a take-home. For take-home exams, students should be provided extended time as follows:

  • If students are allowed 24 hours or fewer to complete the take-home exam, the student’s extended time accommodation applies.
  • If students are allowed more than 24 hours to complete the take-home exam, the student’s extended time accommodation does not apply, as this is not considered a timed exam.

If you opt to move to testing all students through open book/open notes, keep in mind that the change in test format may create additional barriers (and necessitate significantly more time) for students whose disabilities interfere with their ability to find, read, and organize information from multiple sources as a part of the exam process. Contact our access coordinators if you have any questions.

Computer Use

If you choose to administer exams in a handwritten format, students who have the use of computer accommodation for exams should still be permitted to type the exam and arrangements should be made with the students to submit their work in this format.

Students Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

It’s typically easier for students using screen readers to access an exam in Word format rather than through online platforms. Provide the option of completing exams in Word format for screen reader users. Use the built-in Accessibility Checker in Word to find potential accessibility barriers in your documents.

Note Taking Accommodations

Note taking assistance can be provided in a variety of formats.

Peer Note Takers

Disability Resources may ask for your assistance in identifying a peer note taker. To create a more inclusive class and reduce the need for this accommodation, consider assigning a different student to take notes for each class session and sharing those notes with the entire class, or ask students to crowdsource notes on a shared Google doc.

Additional Note Taking Options

Some students may make use of a third-party vendor coordinated through our office, Note Taking Express. In these circumstances, students will send recordings of lecture to the vendor, who will provide the supplemental notes. If you do not share lecture recordings with the class, we may request that you share them with our office so that we are able to coordinate this service.

Audio/Video Recording

Students eligible for audio/video recording accommodations should be supplied with a recording of any synchronous class lectures.

Communication Access Accommodations

If you have a student who requires communication access accommodations, we’ll partner with you in making your course accessible. We’ll notify you with as much advance notice as possible, but please note that we may not always be able to alert you before the semester begins, depending on when the student finalizes their course schedule and requests the accommodation.

Real-Time Captioning

Please note that coordination with a third-party vendor is required and will need to be arranged through Disability Resources. Instructors should follow these instructions for setting up real-time closed captioning in Zoom. There is often a short time delay with real-time captioning. Please be cognizant of this when building time for questions or discussions.

ASL Interpreting

If an ASL interpreter will be present, please work with an access coordinator in our office to determine the best means of coordination. The interpreter will need access to Zoom and will need to be visible to the student.

Captioned Media

Any videos used in instruction or recordings of class lectures must be accurately captioned. Audio recordings, such as podcasts, must be transcribed. An access coordinator at Disability Resources will help connect you to resources on campus who can assist with captioning or transcribing your course materials.

Accessible Electronic Texts

Digital print materials must be provided in accessible formats compatible with a screen reader. Visit the Digital Accessibility section for more information.

Course Policy Modifications

An academic adjustment to course policy accommodation requires you to give the student additional flexibility with attendance, deadlines, and/or participation. An access coordinator will contact you at the beginning of the semester to create a custom course policy modification specific to your online course. This accommodation does not require you to alter essential design and learning outcomes. Read our guidance page for more information.

Other Accommodations

If a student asks for an accommodation not listed on their Faculty Notification Letter, please consult with us. We appreciate that you may be willing to help the student however you can, but independent disability accommodation decisions may put you, the student, and the university in jeopardy.