How to Implement Academic Accommodations
As an educator, your dedication to creating an inclusive learning space and embracing diverse needs matters and makes a difference. We're here to help you understand how to implement approved disability accommodations in your course.
We offer some strategies below to create an accessible and supportive classroom experience for students with disabilities.
Alternate Format & Accessible Materials
Some students with disabilities might require alternative formats or accessible materials to fully engage with their coursework. Our staff works with instructors to convert materials like assigned readings and test questions into accessible formats, such as enlarged print, braille, or text-to-voice compatible files. You can help by providing us with early access to reading lists, scholarly articles, syllabus calendars, and other course materials.
How the process to create accessible materials/alternate format works:
- The student shares their accommodation letter with the instructor through the ADS Portal.
- The student contacts ADS Alternate Text Services for specific content conversion.
- If the reading list isn't available, the student or ADS contacts the instructor for the list.
- ADS converts materials and delivers them to the student based on their accommodations.
We understand you may have questions about creating accessible content. In addition to working with ADS staff, our campus offers additional resources, like workshops from the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center and Division of Information Technology, to help guide you in the accommodations process. We also encourage you to try the new ELMS tool Ally, which provides immediate feedback on the accessibility of your course content and suggestions for improvement.
Note Taking Accommodations
Note taking accommodations are provided to students with various access needs, including but not limited to attention difficulties or slow processing speed. These accommodations help address gaps in their notes. At UMD two main categories of this accommodation include technology based options and use of a peer note taker.
Students with disabilities can use technology, like laptops or audio recording software, to fill gaps in their notes. If you have device restrictions in your class policies, you might need to make adjustments or modifications to your policy to accommodate the student.
Students may choose to use Glean software, which synchronizes notes and audio to ensure better understanding and context for study. Instructors can learn about Glean on its page or by emailing email@example.com.
If you would like to speak with a disability specialist or the ADS Note Taking staff regarding your unique concerns, do not hesitate to contact us.
How the note taking process works:
- The student communicates to the instructor they need a note taker using the ADS Portal.
- The instructor gets an email from ADS with a request to recruit peer note takers.
- The instructor sends the Digital Note Taker Recruitment Template (PDF) to the class.
- If interested students have questions, they can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Instructors are key partners in helping ADS find and recruit student peer note takers to facilitate this accommodation. In the event that a peer note taker does not volunteer, ADS will contact you to discuss creative and alternative solutions to accommodate the student.
Please note that the names of any students requesting a peer note taker should never be identified and should remain anonymous in all recruitment correspondence.
1.) My class requires students to turn in notes for a grade–how will this accommodation affect that?
Approved accommodations may not be appropriate in all course modalities or designs. If the note taking process is graded for your class (e.g., lab notes) in any capacity, please email us at email@example.com.
2.) How will I know if a note taker has been found?
We will reach out to you if a note taker has not been found. If we or the student do not reach out to you, it is likely that a note taker or creative solution has been found.
3.) I received a notification mid-semester that another student has a need for a note taking accommodation. Do I need to send out the Digital Template again?
If you have already sent out the recruitment template for other accommodated students, it is likely that the new student will choose one of the already-available note takers for the class. It is not necessary to send the recruitment template again unless ADS and/or the student notifies you that they have not been able to find a note taker.
Instructors and TAs who have students with approved testing accommodations (e.g., extended time testing, reduced distraction, alternate formats) can administer accommodated exams in the following ways:
- Provide accommodations personally either in the classroom, department, or other agreed upon location
- Provide accommodations using the ELMS platform
- Collaborate with ADS to have students test within the ADS Testing Office
As an instructor, you have the flexibility to accommodate students in online exams using ELMS/Canvas. It's important to get familiar with the instructions for adjusting exam time within the platform. Keep in mind that ADS Testing staff don't have access to online course content and can't help with technical questions. For specific guidance and assistance, feel free to reach out to the Division of IT by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMPORTANT: The ADS Testing Office is a high volume operation. ADS uses multiple classroom buildings across campus to administer testing sessions. Due to the complex logistics of managing this volume, we require advance submission of test questions and directional information. In addition, we are unfortunately unable to administer exams for students without a disability or testing accommodations.
Instructors are responsible for submitting test questions and directional information by 12 p.m. -
- One (1) business day before the exam date for regular tests, quizzes, midterms, and exams
- Two (2) business days prior to the final exam date
Instructors are notified via automated emails via the ADS Portal system:
- When a reservation is made
- With a reminder message three (3) days before the exam date
- One (1) business day before the exam date if you have not uploaded your materials yet
If the exam materials are not received by the timelines mentioned above, ADS will unfortunately have to cancel the testing reservation. In the event of a cancellation due to a lack of submitted materials, instructors are responsible for either 1) personally accommodating the student at their scheduled reservation time or 2) allowing the student to complete the testing session on a future alternate date.
Return of Completed Exams
When you complete the Test Authorization Form (TAF) you designate a return method out of the following options:
- Professor pick-up (fastest)
- ADS return to the main department office (2-5 business days)
- ADS scan and email with a paper copy returned to the department office (5-7 business days)
IMPORTANT: If you do not select a return method, ADS will automatically return all materials to the departmental office.
For exam security reasons, any exam designated for pick-up will require the instructor (or named designee) to present a photo ID.
Note: ADS is unable to provide virtual/Zoom proctoring. All test proctoring completed with ADS is managed in person.
Communication Access Services
The Communication Access Services (CAS) unit, formerly Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS), provides accommodations to eligible students that include sign language interpreters, real-time transcription, post-production captioning, and assistive listening device loans.
Service Providers in the Classroom
Service providers are sign language interpreters or TypeWell transcribers. Typically interpreters are assigned in teams and transcribers are solo unless the class is over 75 minutes. Service providers are assigned only to facilitate communication and should not be expected to participate in the class or to offer any comments or opinions regarding class content.
The service provider(s) will introduce themselves during the first week of the semester and may ask for additional materials (e.g., PowerPoint slides, syllabus) to help them with course-specific terms or other class-related information. This information is needed to assist them in providing the student access to the course material. A best practice is to add the service provider(s) to your ELMS course as an observer.
Media in the Classroom/ELMS
Please ensure that any media you plan to use in the classroom or on the course website is captioned. This includes movies, films, videos, embedded video clips in websites or PowerPoint presentations, and YouTube clips. If you have any captioning needs, please contact the Communication Access Services Assistant Coordinator, email@example.com, as soon as possible to submit your request. The captioning process takes time so it is important that we get advanced notice of at least 3-5 days, whenever possible.
Important: Automatic YouTube captions DO NOT provide sufficient access to the material as they do not meet ADA requirements. If you are unsure if the captions provided are acceptable, send CAS the link/file and we will review it to determine if it meets accessibility standards.
For more detailed information, please visit the Post-Production Captioning page.
- Locate material that is already captioned and accessible.
- Ted Talks are a great resource; all of the videos are captioned.
- Ask students who plan to use media in presentations to find captioned material or at a minimum to create and provide a transcript of the audio portion of the media.
- CAS is available to assist students with their transcription and captioning needs as well as for class presentations.
Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)
Some students have an accommodation to use an assistive listening device (ALD).
ALDs have two components; a receiver and a microphone. Assistive listening devices work best when the instructor wears the microphone and repeats questions or comments made by other students during the lecture. The microphone will only amplify for the student wearing the receiver and does not record anything that is said during the class lecture.
Students may choose to have the receiver provide amplification through their hearing aids, cochlear implant, or through headphones.