Student Disability Accommodations for online courses

March 13, 2020

Disability Services assists faculty by determining if students qualify for reasonable and appropriate disability accommodations as outlined in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended in 2008. I ask that you please review the following information regarding policies and procedures in working with students with disabilities in an online environment which includes:

  • Accessibility Resource Guide
  • Testing
  • Accessible Course Materials and Documents
  • Accessible Document Tips
  • Course Lecture / Videos
  • Braille/Image Descriptions
  • Disability Services Contacts

Know that DS staff have communicated to students with disabilities who are registered with our office to discuss potential new accommodations. Look for emails from (via Maxient) with those details. Please contact me (; 285-5293; Student Center 116) if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of these items.

Dr. Courtney Jarrett
Director | Disability Services
Ball State University

Accessibility Resource Guide

Even in the light of exceptional circumstances such as the move to online instruction, course instructors still have an ethical duty as educators to provide equitable access to their curriculum to all students. This can be facilitated with just a few common sense strategies. DS staff have communicated to students with disabilities who are registered with our office to discuss potential new accommodations. Look for emails from (via Maxient) with those details.


If your students have testing accommodations, you will want to reach out to the student to arrange contingency plans. Try to be flexible in this exceptional circumstance.

  • Extra time can be programmed in to Canvas.
  • Students can have an alternate testing location or reduced distraction environment in their room or home.
  • Faculty can use Examity for proctoring if needed. Strategic Learning can assist with this.
  • There is assistive technology available for students who need other test accommodations (reader, scribe, etc.). There may also be a need for students to use roommates or family members as proctors. DS will evaluate these issues on a case by case basis.
  • Paper exams may be an option for students who are still on campus. If students have gone home, then students may need to take exams online with extended time. Again, DS will address these on a case by case basis.

Questions about testing and accommodation administration can be answered by the Office of Disability Services at

Accessible Course Materials and Documents

An accessible course material is one that can be used with assistive technology – hardware or software that allows students with disabilities to interact with technology.

Accessible Document Tips

-Use .docx files instead of .pdf

-If you must use .pdf, ensure it is created as a searchable PDF in Acrobat.

-If above is not possible, upload a second copy of your document as a plain text copy (.txt or .rtf)

-Save your PowerPoints as plain text (Save As -> RTF (or Other depending on Word version) or as an outline

-Don’t upload poor quality scans/copies/tilted of texts to Canvas as they will likely not work well with assistive technology devices.


If you have a student with a disability and would like assistance with document conversion, you can email Nick Baumgartner, Manager of Accessible Technology at

Course Lecture / Videos

If you have students who are deaf or have hearing disabilities in your class, you need to make sure that your videos are captioned. Jeff Bowers ( is BSU’s captioning coordinator and CART provider and can help you with resources.

Braille/Image Descriptions

If you have students with visual disabilities in your class, you need to ensure visual elements such as pictures or videos have image descriptions or image captions. Nick Baumgartner and the ACT Lab ( can help you with this process.

Disability Services Contacts

General Inquiries

Office of Disability Services–

Accessible Technology Inquiries

Accessible Computer Technology (ACT) Lab –

Captioning/CART Inquiries

Jeff Bowers –

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