Faculty & Staff Resources

Faculty Tips: Accessible Remote Teaching and Learning for Students with Disabilities

Towson University is committed to providing access in all teaching and learning environments. The Office of Accessibility and Disability Services (ADS) is here to consult with faculty and facilitate accommodations for students in your courses and programs. Please go to the main webpage for current information on Fall 2020 ADS office operations related to Covid-19.  Current information regarding testing can be found on the Testing Service Center webpage.

DIGITAL ACCESSIBILITY

Barriers to accessibility and accommodation needs in a remote learning environment may be different from those present in face-to-face instruction.  Here are some suggested guidelines and resources.

You can facilitate accessibility by creating digital materials that will benefit students with a wide variety of learning needs. This can reduce the need for reactive accommodation and improve access for all students. Please make your digital resources accessible before posting or sharing them. To help make your courses more accessible and inclusive, see Technology & Information Accessibility.

Remote Teaching FAQS

Do you know which students in your courses have accommodations?

Know who is eligible to receive accommodations so early arrangements can be made. If you are unsure, it is appropriate to email the whole class, asking any student who is approved for accommodations to follow up with you. Honor current accommodations for students with disabilities, and encourage students to contact their ADS specialist if different accommodations are needed.

ADS will issue an updated accommodation memo if new accommodations are approved. ADS can email you digital copies of accommodation memos.

Who should you contact if you have questions about providing accommodations?

Each student works with an assigned ADS Specialist who is listed on the accommodation memo. The specialist will be able to answer questions about student accommodations. If you are unsure who the student’s specialist is, you can email .

What are some of the biggest barriers students with disabilities face with remote learning?

In a May 2020 survey of students registered with ADS, 65% said their disability symptoms impacted them more in a remote environment as compared to the traditional classroom.  The barriers cited most often included difficulty sustaining attention and staying organized in a remote environment, reduced access to instructors to answer questions, taking longer to complete tasks/assignments, and greater difficulty understanding course information than in a face-to-face setting.

How can recording class lectures benefit students with disabilities, as well as all students?

Recording class lectures promotes accessibility for students with disabilities and can enhance the educational experience for all students (e.g., students with different learning styles, non-native speakers of English and students struggling with the course material).  A recorded lecture allows students to refer back to the recording while studying, fill in gaps in their notes, and revisit complex information to grasp challenging concepts.  Additionally, captioning recorded lectures ensures accessibility for students with disabilities and fosters greater engagement and focus for all students through both hearing and seeing the verbal information presented. Here is an additional resource from the DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center with more suggestions for teaching accessible remote courses.

How will exams be handled?

As of August 3, the Testing Services Center is open Monday through Friday, 8:30am – 5:00pm, with a limited number of staff and a reduced number of testing spaces.

Students who are approved for testing accommodations should continue to receive these accommodations in an online environment as appropriate. For fully online courses, the expectation is that students will take their tests online as administered by the instructor. Timed online exams will require the instructor to adjust the student’s testing time in Blackboard prior to the test date.   

For courses that offer face-to-face instruction and students have the opportunity to take tests in the classroom, ADS students may request to take their test with accommodations in the Testing Center. The Center will be available to administer and proctor exams but at a significantly reduced capacity. Students should submit an Online Test Accommodation Request Form to schedule a test with the Testing Center at least five business days in advance of the test date. 

The Testing Center will close on November 24 when students leave campus and will not be available for on-site testing for the rest of the semester.

For further information, please call the Testing Services Center line at 410-704-2304 or contact Patrick Chachulski, Testing Coordinator, at .  

What are some tips for working with students with disabilities in remote courses?
  • Students with disabilities often need additional time, and some may take longer to complete assignments when learning remotely. Being flexible with requests for a reasonable extension on an assignment can be helpful. 
  • Keep the structure of your Blackboard page simple and organized.
  • When changing course requirements, such as due dates, make them directly on the syllabus in Blackboard rather than only communicating changes by email.
  • Chat rooms can present challenges for some students, so offer an alternative or make them optional.
  • Being available to answer questions is particularly important for students with disabilities. Holding virtual office hours is very helpful, as is responding to questions in a timely way.

Information for Faculty and Staff with Disabilities

For more information please email  or call the Office of Human Resources at 410-704-2162. 

To request a job accommodation, faculty and staff should visit  Current Employees in the Office of Human Resources.