Accessibility and Accommodations in Online Courses

We cannot be excellent unless we are inclusive. The University of Maryland is committed to creating and maintaining an accessible and inclusive educational and working environment to all its constituencies in any circumstance.

In the event of an emergency disruption and a shift to online instruction and teleworking, accessibility and disability related accommodations must be provided so that students, faculty and staff can fully participate.

The Accessibility and Disability Service (ADS) provides accommodations to undergraduate and graduate students to ensure equal access to services, programs and activities sponsored by the University of Maryland. Through the variety of services offered, ADS works to ensure that students’ accommodations and accessibility needs are met in any learning environment.

Your Accommodations in Online Courses

The accommodations outlined in your letter provided by the ADS for face-to-face courses are still relevant for your online courses. However, how they are implemented in an online environment may need to be adapted or adjusted and will depend on specific course platforms, content, and assessments.

We ask that everyone be as flexible as possible as these nuances are worked out.

  • Review the (latest) syllabus for any new information or changes.
  • Check your email, ELMS-Canvas inbox, and course announcements regularly for updates and information from your instructor.
  • Modify your study plan to accommodate changes to your class schedule.
  • Notify your instructor if you do not have the required technology.
  • Ensure that you have the adaptive technology you need on your personal computer.
  • Verify that Apps and eTools required are compatible with the adaptive technology you use.
  • Review the information below on how the most common accommodations are implemented online.
  • Contact your instructor and your ADS Counselor immediately if you are not certain how your accommodations will be implemented in your online courses, or if you are required to use an App or eTool that is not compatible with the adaptive technology you use.
  • Graduate Students who need to adjust accommodations for employment while teleworking or moving face-to-face courses to online, need to reach out to supervisors and contact your ADS counselor for support.
  • If you are facing any challenges due to stress or uncertainty you may also contact your academic advisor, counseling center, health center, or other student support services.
  • Contact if you have any questions on how to use technology for learning or any related need to be successful in your online courses.

Resources for Implementing Accommodations Online


  • Some instructors may opt for alternative assessments (e.g. essays, untimed exams, discussion boards) which would not require exam accommodations.
  • If your instructor is creating online timed exams, please notify your instructor if you will need extended time and/or breaks during exams.
  • Students taking online timed exams and quizzes should not be required to be proctored at the ADS or other locations on or off-campus. The exams should be proctored online.
  • Some students may require extra time and breaks during exams. In addition to adjusting the extra time, instructors need to adjust for break time, when a student has an approved break accommodation. Breaks typically amount to an additional five minutes for every 30 minutes of exam time. For instance, if a regular exam length is 50 minutes the following extended time applies:
    • Student with 1.5 extended time has 75 minutes
    • Student with 1.5 extended time AND breaks has 85 minutes
  • Contact if you have questions or need guidance on how to use these ELMS-Canvas tools.

  • Some students need to use adaptive technology (such as text to speech software, screen readers or screen magnification software) to complete exams. Much of the adaptive technology software requires access to the internet.
  • Important: If an exam requires the use of a lockdown browser, instructors may need to determine exceptions to be instituted for students who require internet-based technology during exams. Instructors may consider using built-in exceptions within the lockdown browser or eliminating the requirement to use lockdown browsers.
  • Contact ADS adaptive technology lab if you have any questions on how to take exams or use adaptive technology in your online courses.

  • Students who use sign language Interpreters, transcribers or captioning as an accommodation will need professional captioning of videos and transcripts of audio used in any portion of an exam, quiz or assignment.
  • Contact ADS deaf and hard of hearing services (DHHS) at to determine the best means of captioning your videos.

  • Some students require a “human reader” for exams and they are not able to utilize text to speech technology. Instructors should create an audio file of the exam items that is recorded with clear, distinct pronunciation.
  • This is extremely important for technical courses like Math, Science or Foreign Languages.
  • Some students require a “human scribe” for exams and are not able to utilize speech to text technology. Instructors should consider eliminating the need for a scribe by changing their exam format, such as moving from an essay exam to a multiple choice/true-false format.

  • Some students require a paper copy of the exam. Instructors can consider giving permission to print off the exam and email it back to the instructor; providing an audio file of the exam items; or developing an alternate assignment for the student to complete
  • Contact ADS at 301.314.7682 or if you need support implementing test accommodations online.


  • ADS offers two options for note taking; peer note taking and Sonocent audio note taking. Depending on a student’s disability and study preferences, one option may be a better fit than the other.
  • Peer note taking should continue without interruption for both synchronous and asynchronous recorded lectures. It is important for instructors to inform note takers that note taking should continue as if classes are being held in person.
  • Audio recording of lectures should continue without interruption.
  • Instructors may consider using Panopto to record their lecture to share with students to expedite this accommodation. Students may download podcasts of Panopto videos.
  • Contact ADS note taking services at or (301) 314-7842 to learn if note taking accommodation is required during your online course.


  • ADS can provide sign language interpreting and transcription in synchronous and asynchronous lectures
  • Synchronous lectures and discussions can be accommodated via remote sign language interpreters or remote TypeWell transcribers. ADS recommends using Zoom for synchronous lectures that require a remote service provider.
  • Asynchronous lectures must be captioned. If you are using any means for recording other than Panopto you will need to download an MP4 of your recording and upload it to your Panapto folder in ELMS.
  • Instructors may explore using pre-recorded lectures (professionally captioned is required), and create opportunities for discussion in writing only such as ELMS discussion boards and live Google Chat/Hangout.
  • ADS may ask professors to give service providers access to the ir ELMS-Canvas course as well as their Zoom or WebEx link. Transcribers may need to be assigned assista designated transcriber role within Zoom by the course instructor.
  • Contact DHHS if you need to call your instructor using the Video Relay Service.
  • Remote interpreting and transcribing may also be arranged for virtual office hour meetings through the DHHS provider request process.
  • Contact ADS DHHS office for assistance at


  • Many students require online content (e.g., ELMS page, documents, articles, textbooks) in an alternative format (e.g., audio files, large print versions, electronic braille or braille printouts, etc.).
  • ADS offers alternate text service for converting required printed course materials into electronic formats that are accessible.
  • Contact ADS Alternative Text Unit at if you need assistance to make your online course content accessible to your students.

Students on the Autism Spectrum

For students on the Autism spectrum, abrupt changes in routine may be more difficult to integrate into daily life. Transition is difficult for everyone and for students with autism may be more disruptive.

In the midst of uncertainty and not knowing how long you will be learning through online classes, we want to remind you to take care of yourself first.

Be patient with yourself, your instructors, and your classmates as you face the unknown and a new platform for learning.