The transition to alternative learning formats will require both flexibility and attention to the effect of the alternative environment on the needs of students with disabilities.

Digital Accessibility Resources

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Best Practices

Student accommodations are changes in your course environment for an individual student that make it possible for that student to participate in your class. As your class environment changes, student accommodation needs may also change. Please reach out to the DRC on your campus if you have questions about meeting the needs of a specific student. The DRC is here to assist you in providing effective accommodations in your course.

Additionally, you can facilitate accessibility by proactively creating digital materials that can be used by the greatest number of people without modification. This can both reduce the need for reactive accommodation and improve access for all students. We encourage you to do what you can to make your digital resources accessible before posting or sharing them.

To help you make your courses accessible and inclusive to all your students, the University of Minnesota developed Accessible U. Here are a few best practices in online course accessibility:

How to Get Help at the University of Minnesota

  • You can find answers to Canvas accessibility questions in the Accessibility in Canvas Courses Canvas site. Please direct your questions regarding special use cases of other centrally supported academic technology to Academic Technology Support Services at [email protected]
  • For questions about interpreting and captioning accommodations on the Twin Cities campus, contact [email protected]
  • For questions about student accommodations, contact the access consultant listed on your student's accommodation letter.

Accommodations and Access for Instructors Who Have Students with Disabilities in Their Courses

The University of Minnesota is committed to providing access in all forms of learning environments. The UMTC DRC is providing the following information to support instructors through the transition to alternative learning formats. We have also communicated with students who are registered with the DRC about what these changes mean for them.

As the University moves to alternative instruction, students with disabilities will need you to implement accommodations. However, the barriers in the online environment may be different from those present in a traditional classroom. Here are a few guidelines and resources to support you in providing appropriate accommodations:

  • Honor current accommodation letters for students with disabilities, and encourage students to contact their access consultant if different accommodations may be needed.  
  • Curiosity and flexibility are key to exploring what facilitates effective and reasonable access and participation for all students – particularly students with disabilities – in the new alternative instruction environments. 
  • Please connect with your students to explore their access needs and what accommodations they may need in the new environment. For students who have DRC accommodation letters, the access consultant listed on the accommodation letter can be a resource regarding specific accommodations.
  • UMTC DRC access consultants may be available for drop-in phone consultation. Please reach out by email at [email protected]. If you need to reach out by phone, please call 612-626-1333 and leave a voicemail; someone will return your call or respond by email as soon as we are able. Students on campuses outside the Twin Cities should contact the DRC on their campus for an appointment. (See the end of page for system campus DRC contact information.)
  • If the new environment presents significant barriers to a student, what is reasonable with regard to accommodations may change. For example, additional flexibility on assignment deadlines and alternative methods of assessment may be reasonable for some students due to additional barriers present in the new environment. Flexibility and using multiple methods for students to demonstrate their learning will be key to making the transition to alternative instruction more accessible for students with disabilities.
  • When the barriers to alternative instruction are too significant, exploring an incomplete may also become reasonable. 
  • Planning for accessibility from the beginning is key to reducing barriers for students with disabilities. Accessible U is one resource to assist you in thinking about how to make your digital materials and media more accessible. The following are additional resources for your review:

UMTC Disability Resource Center-Related FAQs

Is the UMTC Disability Resource Center open?

Until further notice, the UMTC DRC will operate as follows:

  • Student Access consultants are available for remote appointments only from 8:00 am-4:00 pm. All student appointments and instructor consultations will be done via phone or video conference using Zoom or Google Hangout. Please leave a message at either [email protected] or 612-626-1333 to schedule an appointment.
  • Students who require complex exam accommodations should reach out to their access consultant to discuss their specific needs as soon as they are known. The access instructor will reach out to your instructor to explore what is possible. Please be patient throughout the process.
  • Interpreting/Captioning Unit administrative hours are 7:30 am-6:00 pm Monday-Thursday, and 7:30 am-4:30 pm Friday. Requests for services and inquiries should be made at [email protected]
  • Document Conversion/Media Accessibility hours are 7:30 am-4:30 pm Monday-Friday. Requests for services and inquiries should be made at [email protected]
  • UReturn consultations for staff and faculty will be available for appointments and consultations as usual. Requests for services and inquiries should be made at [email protected].

Will exams be administered in person by the UMTC Disability Resource Center?

No. For the foreseeable future, the DRC Testing Center is not scheduling exams to be administered in the DRC. Exams will need to be provided in the alternative instruction environment of your course. As instructors adjust course content to online and alternative learning formats, students may need additional information about potential changes to exam administration. Students who require complex exam accommodations should reach out to their access consultant to discuss their specific needs as soon as they are known. The access consultant will reach out to instructors to explore what is possible. Please be patient throughout this process.

How do I extend time on a Canvas quiz for students with extended time accommodations?

Instructions can be found on the Canvas community page. To extend quiz time or account for a break, you will need to extend the allowable time of the student's quiz by their accommodated time or by their break time.

What if my student needs an exam accommodation that is not available in Canvas?

Contact the access consultant on the student’s accommodation letter to explore alternate ways to assess the student’s knowledge.

How do I make sure my lectures delivered via Zoom are captioned in real-time?

  • If you have a student in your class who has real-time captioning as an accommodation, email [email protected] the Zoom link, course number, date and time. Our office will provide the student access to real-time captions (visible only to the student with the accommodation)

How do I add captions to a video I’m distributing to my students?

  • If you have a student in your class who has media captioning as an accommodation, follow the steps below:
    • Use Kaltura to record your video. This is currently the fastest and suggested way to get captioned materials to students: Visit the Teach Online page of this site, click on Record a Video for Students to Watch Online. By recording in Kaltura, the DRC will be able to caption videos in the most time-efficient manner.
    • Submit your media captioning request to the DRC’s instructor portal and choose “Request Media Captioning." Due to the large volume of videos/recorded courses, we need to receive these videos as soon as possible.
  • To proactively add captions to facilitate better access for all students:

What will happen with students working with sign language interpreters and other access needs?

The DRC is communicating directly with students who utilize accommodations such as sign language interpreters, document conversion, and access assistance and encouraging them to contact the DRC to explore their access needs given the new alternative instruction directive.

Disability Resource Center Campus Contacts





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