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Accessibility & Accommodations

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.

The Accessibility and Disability Service (ADS) provides accommodations to 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.

In the interest of the health and safety of students, staff, and faculty, ADS will only offer in-person exam proctoring under extenuating circumstances, and only when all available online accommodation options have been considered and determined to be ineffective or impractical. For questions or more information, please contact ADS office at 301-314-7682 or

Why is accessibility important?

Accessibility is the right thing to do and it is required by law. By designing your course to be accessible to those with disabilities you will benefit all students. A course is accessible to the degree that every student can easily access and navigate course content and assignments; submit assignments, and successfully use course tools.


  • Include a written accessibility statement in course syllabus, and reference it when presenting the course standards to students. Refer to the sample syllabus accessibility statement, which can be customized to inform students on how best to notify instructors regarding accommodation requests.
  • When selecting new materials, try to find videos and audio content that are already captioned. Professional captioning will be provided for deaf and hard of hearing students registered with ADS. Instructors are encouraged to caption newly created online audio and video that will be reused in the future. DIT offers the Panopto professional caption service or instructors can learn how to caption videos.
  • Scanned images of text are not accessible. Select articles and materials that are available in a text-searchable format (meaning you can highlight and search the text within the document.).
  • Create accessible, well-structured documents and ELMS-Canvas pages.
  • Ensure that all software, eTools and Apps implemented meet accessibility, security and privacy guidelines before making it a requirement in your online course. Requests for accessibility evaluation can be sent to
  • Contact to schedule a consultation or training in-person, virtually, or by phone on how to make your online course accessible. View the UMD IT Accessibility Website. 

Resources for Implementing Accommodations

Some of the most frequently used accommodations include extended exam time, note taking, audio recording of lectures, consideration for flexibility in class attendance (for synchronous coursework) and assignment due dates. In general, the classroom accommodations process is as follows:

  • Students with disabilities are found eligible for classroom accommodations by meeting with a ADS counselor to share their disability documentation and to discuss their specific classroom accommodation needs.
  • They receive a formal accommodations letter at this meeting which lists each specific accommodation that has been approved by the ADS.
  • The students are guided by their ADS counselor through an interactive process in which they share and discuss their classroom accommodations with their instructors at the beginning of each semester.
  • During these discussions, students give their instructors a copy of their approved accommodations, which should be kept in the instructors’ files.
  • Classroom instructors are responsible for working with the student and the ADS in the implementation of each student’s approved classroom accommodations.

Many accommodations that have been established for students to use in the classroom can transition with them to online courses with minimal modification. How accommodations are implemented in an online environment may need to be adapted or adjusted and will depend on specific course platforms, content, and assessments. Other accommodations might require some adjustment or alteration when transitioning from in-class to online coursework. ADS will work with students and instructors to affect these modifications to accommodations to ensure equal access to coursework for students with disabilities.

Important considerations:

  • Contact ADS at 301.314.7682 or with any questions regarding the implementation of accommodations online.
  • Be flexible and adjust deadlines and pedagogical strategies to ensure an inclusive learning environment. Work with your students with disabilities to identify the best strategies to support them to be successful in your course.
  • Direct students who do not have accommodation letters to register with ADS.
  • Students may have additional challenges that can amplify during times of stress or uncertainty. Direct students to contact their academic advisor, ADS counselorcounseling centerhealth center, or other student support services.

Resources for Accommodations


When students have approved testing accommodations (extended time; use of adaptive technology; distraction-reduced environment, etc.) and plan to take their exams in the ADS testing office, additional paperwork and preparation is required.

  • Early discussion between the student and the instructor about the testing accommodations is important. Students could face scheduling conflicts with regard to extended time testing. If, for example, a student might have back to back classes on the scheduled exam date and need to reschedule the exam for another time.
  • When scheduling to take exams at the ADS testing office, the student is responsible for providing the instructor with a Test Authorization Form approximately five (5) days before the exam date. The Test Authorization Form is designed to be completed by the instructor with specific testing instructions and to be delivered to the ADS Testing office along with the exam. Forms are available at
  • Students can take accommodated classroom exams in the classroom building as long as the instructor is able to provide the approved accommodations listed on the student’s letter. 

Extended time for exams, quizzes and assessments

  • Assessments such as essays, untimed exams, discussion boards do not require exam accommodations.
  • If you use timed exams, quizzes and assignments, you need to verify if you have students who require extended time and breaks.
  • Students taking online 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
  • Instructors may use the following ELMS-Canvas tools to extend time and to give extra attempts for exams, quizzes and assessments:
    • Quiz extensions tool allows faculty to provide extra time on all timed assessments (quizzes, midterms and final exams) created using the quiz tool for multiple students at once.
    • Quiz moderation tool is used to give individual students extra attempts or time. The tool allows instructors to grant a student extra time to complete and submit an assignment through differentiated due dates.
  • Contact if you have questions or need guidance on how to use these ELMS-Canvas tools.

Considerations for students who use adaptive technology to complete exams

  • 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 implement exams for students who require the use of adaptive technology.

Use of video and audio clips during exams, quizzes and assignments

  • 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 Communication Access Services (CAS) at to determine the best means of captioning your videos.

Using alternatives to human readers and scribes

  • 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.

Implementing alternatives to computer-based testing

  • 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.
  • Contact ADS Accommodated Note Taking 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.
  • Use Panopto captioning form to request captioning for your pre-recorded lectures (24-48hs turnaround). Students who need access to the lecture material in less than 24 hours will be provided a transcript in the interim while captioning is being processed.
  • 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 their ELMS-Canvas course as well as their Zoom or WebEx link. Transcribers may need to be assigned a designated transcriber role within Zoom by the course instructor.
  • Remote interpreting and transcribing may also be arranged for virtual office hour meetings through the CAS service provider request process.
  • Students needing to call their instructor may use the Video Relay Service.
  • Contact ADS CAS 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 Alternate Text Services at if you need assistance to make your online course content accessible to your students.

Examples of Accommodations & Technology Used

Below are examples of accommodations and types of technology used by students with disabilities, organized by disability type.

  • Use of screen reader
  • Use of voice commands and dictation software instead of a keyboard and mouse.
  • Enlarged text and illustrations.
  • Contrast-enhanced printed materials, including color contrast. Avoid using color to convey meaning; don’t refer to color as the sole means of bringing important content to students’ attention.
  • Image-enlarging technology (e.g., TV monitor, magnifier)
  • Electronic format for syllabi, assignments, readings, resources
  • Glare guards
  • Supplementary light source
  • Perform online activities that do not require drag and drop.
  • Zoom-text software and/or amplifiers
  • Use of Accessible Mobile Apps and eTools
  • Use of screen reader
  • Use of voice commands and dictation software instead of a keyboard and mouse.
  • Verbal or audio descriptions of visuals and videos
  • Audio-recorded, braille or electronic-formatted lecture notes, handouts, and texts
  • Raised-line drawings and tactile models of graphic materials
  • Braille lab signs and equipment labels; auditory lab warning signals
  • Adaptive lab equipment (e.g., talking calculators, tactile timers)
  • Computer with optical character reader, speech output, Braille screen display and Braille printer output
  • Accessible Mobile Apps and eTools
  • Remote American Sign Language
  • Real-time captioning
  • Transcriber
  • Note taker
  • Visual aids in a video and/or written supplements to spoken instructions
  • Written assignments, lab instructions, summaries, notes
  • Use of written text for class and private discussions
  • Transcripts of podcasts, voice-over PowerPoints, videos, and other online media such as synchronous web conferencing tools (e.g., Zoom or WebEx).
  • Flexibility with web conferencing (video) discussions (e.g., discussion boards, online chat in writing only)
  • Note taker
  • Text-to-speech software
  • Kurzweil software for reading, writing and study
  • Audio recorded lectures
  • eBooks and audiobooks
  • Captioned videos
  • Extended time on exams and assignments
  • Alternative testing arrangements/locations
  • Instructions provided in multiple formats, including visual, aural and tactile
  • Computer with voice output, spell checker and grammar checker
  • Concise and clear oral and written instructions.
  • Well organized course navigation including visual aids.
  • Guidance or Adaptive reading text or interpreting illustrations.
  • Use of screen reader to help understand text.
  • Brief sections of text, audio or video. Students may have trouble focusing on or comprehending.
  • Notetaker, scribes, lab partners
  • Accessible Mobile Apps and eTools
  • Computer with speech input, voice output and alternative keyboard
  • Voice-to-text dictation software
  • Wheelchair-friendly furniture and room arrangement (e.g., adjustable tables, space for a wheelchair, lab equipment located within reach)
  • Class materials available in electronic format (e.g., image files are not accessible)
  • Extended time for completion of activities. These individuals may become easily fatigued by movements that wouldn’t be tiring for most people.
  • Perform online activities that do not require drag and drop as many individuals are not able to use a mouse.
  • Use of assistive technologies like head wands and voice-recognition software to access a course.
  • Alternative assignments for oral presentations (e.g., written assignments, one-to-one presentation)
  • Course substitutions
  • Flexibility with web conferencing (video) discussions (e.g., consider discussion boards, online chat)
  • Notetakers
  • Flexible time to access content and complete assignments
  • Extra exam time
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