COVID, the DRC, and Instructors

Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 9:00am

Table of Contents

  1. Implementing accommodations and planning access in your courses

  2. UMTC Disability Resource Center-Related FAQs

  3. Remote Testing FAQs for Instructors

  4. Digital accessibility resources and best practices

Implementing accommodations and planning access in your course

The University of Minnesota is committed to providing access in all forms of learning environments. The UMTC DRC is providing the following information to support instructors through the transition to alternative learning formats. We have also communicated with students who are registered with the DRC about what these changes mean for them. 

As the University moves to alternative instruction, students with disabilities will need you to implement accommodations. However, the barriers in the online environment may be different from those present in a traditional classroom. Here are a few guidelines and resources to support you in providing appropriate accommodations:

  • Honor current accommodation letters for students with disabilities, and encourage students to contact their access consultant if different accommodations may be needed.  
  • Curiosity and flexibility are key to exploring what facilitates effective and reasonable access and participation for all students – particularly students with disabilities – in the new alternative instruction environments. 
  • Please connect with your students to explore their access needs and what accommodations they may need in the new environment. For students who have DRC accommodation letters, the access consultant listed on the accommodation letter can be a resource regarding specific accommodations.
  • UMTC DRC access consultants may be available for drop-in phone consultation. Please reach out by email at If you need to reach out by phone, please call 612-626-1333 and leave a voicemail; someone will return your call or respond by email as soon as we are able. Students on campuses outside the Twin Cities should contact the DRC on their campus for an appointment.
  • If the new environment presents significant barriers to a student, what is reasonable with regard to accommodations may change. For example, additional flexibility on assignment deadlines and alternative methods of assessment may be reasonable for some students due to additional barriers present in the new environment. Flexibility and using multiple methods for students to demonstrate their learning will be key to making the transition to alternative instruction more accessible for students with disabilities.
  • When the barriers to alternative instruction are too significant, exploring an incomplete may also become reasonable. 
  • Planning for accessibility from the beginning is key to reducing barriers for students with disabilities. Accessible U is one resource to assist you in thinking about how to make your digital materials and media more accessible. The following are additional resources for your review:         

UMTC Disability Resource Center-Related FAQs

Is the UMTC Disability Resource Center open?

Until further notice, the DRC will operate as follows:

  • Student Access consultants are available for remote appointments only from 8:00 am - 4:00 pm. All student appointments and instructor consultations will be done via phone or video conference using Zoom or Google Meet. Please leave a message at either or 612-626-1333 to schedule an appointment.
  • Students who require complex exam accommodations should reach out to their access consultant to discuss their specific needs as soon as they are known. The access consultant will reach out to your instructor to explore what is possible. Please be patient throughout this process. 
  • Interpreting/Captioning Unit administrative hours are 7:30 am-6 pm Monday-Thursday, and 7:30am-4:30 pm Friday. Requests for services and inquiries should be made at
  • Document Conversion/Media Accessibility hours are 7:30 am-4:30 pm Monday-Friday. Requests for services and inquiries should be made at
  • UReturn consultations for staff and faculty will be available for appointments and consultations as usual. Requests for services and inquiries should be made at

Will exams be administered in person by the UMTC Disability Resource Center?

No. For the foreseeable future the DRC Testing Center is not scheduling exams to be administered in the DRC. Exams will need to be provided in the alternative instruction environment of your course. As instructors adjust course content to online and alternative learning formats, students may need  additional information about potential changes to exam administration. Students who require complex exam accommodations should reach out to their access consultant to discuss their specific needs as soon as they are known. The access consultant will reach out to instructors to explore what is possible. Please be patient throughout this process.

What if my student needs an exam accommodation that is not available in Canvas?

Contact the access consultant on the student’s accommodation letter to explore alternate ways to implement the accommodation

How do I make sure my lectures delivered via Zoom are captioned in real time?

If you have a student in your class who has real-time captioning as an accommodation, email the Zoom link, course number, date and time. Our office will provide the student access to real-time captions (visible only to the student with the accommodation). 

How do I add captions to a video I’m distributing to my students?

Do I Need to Provide Captioned Media in My Courses?


At the University of Minnesota, videos should include accurate captions. Accurate captions are imperative to provide meaningful access for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. They also provide access to people whose native language does not match the audio content, have learning disabilities or other cognitive impairments, and learn by taking in information in multiple ways.


Instructors should choose media that is accurately captioned (auto-generated and automatic captions do not meet accessibility standards). 


Instructors should caption their own media. An efficient way to create captioned media is through Kaltura. When using Kaltura in Canvas and MediaSpace, videos are automatically closed captioned. As auto-generated captions do not meet accessibility standards, they then need to be reviewed and edited. To use Kaltura’s captioning tool, instructors can:

Again, all captions should be reviewed and edited before posting.

Instructors also have an option to request professional captions in Kaltura.  

If instructors are using another method to record and post lectures, they should consult with their department’s IT about how to add captions to their videos.


If an instructor knows there is a student registered in their course using captioned media as a disability-related accommodation, they can submit a request through our DRC Instructor Portal and select the Request Media Captioning option.

What will happen with students working with sign language interpreters and other access needs?

We’re communicating directly with students who utilize accommodations such as sign language interpreters, document conversion, and access assistance and encouraging them to contact the DRC to explore their access needs given the new alternative instruction directive.

Digital accessibility resources and best practices

The transition to alternative learning formats will require both flexibility and attention to the effect of the alternative environment on the needs of students with disabilities. Student accommodations are changes in your course environment for an individual student that make it possible for that student to participate in your class. As your class environment changes, student accommodation needs may also change. Please reach out to the DRC if you have questions about meeting the needs of a specific student. The DRC is here to assist you in providing effective accommodations in your course. 

Additionally, you can facilitate accessibility by proactively creating digital materials that can be used by the greatest number of people without modification. This can both reduce the need for reactive accommodation and improve access for all students. We encourage you to do what you can to make your digital resources accessible before posting or sharing them.

To help you make your courses accessible and inclusive to all your students, the University of Minnesota developed Accessible U. Here are a few best practices in online course accessibility:

How to Get Help at the University of Minnesota

You can find answers to Canvas accessibility questions in the Accessibility in Canvas Courses Canvas site. Please direct your questions regarding special use cases of other centrally supported academic technology to Academic Technology Support Services at

For questions about interpreting and captioning accommodations on the Twin Cities campus, contact

For questions about student accommodations, contact the access consultant listed on your student's accommodation letter.