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UMBC Instructors: Disability Accommodation Guidelines/FAQs For Remote Instruction

This document summarizes important information for UMBC instructors regarding accessibility and disability accommodations during remote and remote/hybrid instruction during Fall Semester 2020.  The UMBC main campus and UMBC Shady Grove (USG) campus are primarily operating remotely at this time.

I. Blackboard For Instruction

II. Extended Time Test Administration

III. Transcription of real-time class lectures

IV. Sign Language Interpreters

V. Note taking Assistance

VI. Scribes/Readers

VII. Attendance, Make-Up Work, & Assignment Extensions


A. Online lectures in Blackboard
  • SDS recommends using Blackboard Collaborate to conduct online lectures.
  • Please RECORD all of your Bb Collaborate sessions. Why?
  1. In the event of technical problems (hardware, software, connections, etc.);
  2. For note taking support, students can stop, start, and create accurate notes;
  3. For deaf and hard of hearing students, verbatim transcripts can be made;
  4. Students with chronic illnesses or other challenging life circumstances during this unprecedented time can still “attend” your class even if they cannot attend “live” (please note that faculty can view who has watched the recordings and calculate “attendance”).
B. Accessibility of course materials used in Blackboard
  • Use the Blackboard Ally tool. Ally is accessed inside Blackboard and enables instructors to assess their digital course materials for accessibility.
  • Blackboard as an LMS platform is accessible, BUT the content we put into it, such as documents, files, videos, links, etc. may not be accessible.
  • What is Ally and how do I use it? Do-IT has you covered, see the Help wiki:

Accessible online course content benefits ALL students. However, if you have a blind/visually impaired or deaf/hard of hearing student in your course it is essential to check your materials for accessibility. SDS staff will email you directly if you have a student registered with SDS in your class that requires accessible and/or alternative formats of course content. SDS can advise you on how to use tagged PDFs, HTML, plain text, and alt text image descriptions for screen reader access if needed.


C. Captioning

It is advised that you do not show films or videos that are not captioned or do not have accompanying transcripts available.

  • If you are creating your own videos for course instruction, you can utilize Do-IT supported Panopto which can create captions (see
  • You can also create longer videos in YouTube utilizing the auto-captioning function.
  • Please note that captions/subtitles help all students, particularly if the environment they are in has poor audio quality or noise distractions.


  • During remote instruction while campus access is restricted, SDS will not proctor or print hard copy exams for students with disabilities.
  • Instructors will set the required extended time in their Blackboard course or other online testing platform for timed quizzes/ tests/exams. Faculty are responsible for online test administration but are welcome to consult with SDS for questions.
  • Students who have been approved for this testing accommodation through SDS must continue to receive these services despite the new learning environment.
  • How do I set extended test time?? Follow the DoIT help wikis — the process is different for Blackboard Ultra and Blackboard Original (the older one).
  • Please note that in the online teaching and testing environment, students may have time conflicts with scheduled tests in other classes or “live” online sessions. Please work with your SDS students to set an earlier or later test start time if conflicts occur.


If you have students who are receiving transcription services for real-time meetings of your class:

  • Instructors must invite transcriptionists to each Bb Collaborate session to allow them access to the live lecture sessions.
  • In order to add a guest/transcriptionist to a Collaborate session, please follow these steps from Do-IT:
  • While teaching using Collaborate, the transcriptionist and students will connect to each other via a web portal to send/receive real-time transcription. This will allow real-time course access without requiring you to change the student’s view.
  • Instructors with students in their course using these accommodations have already been contacted directly by SDS Assistant Director Michael Canale. Feel free to email him with questions directly (
  • IMPORTANT: Instructors must EMAIL the guest link PRIOR to each session for transcriptionists to provide access in the class. Email:


If you have students who receive ASL Interpretation in real-time meetings of class:

  • Instructors will need to add interpreters to their Blackboard course if they have not already done so. For their Blackboard role, please select “Interpreter”. This will allow them to access the course materials and Collaborate sessions.
  • All interpreters have been given a Webex account. While you are teaching your course in Collaborate ”live”, the interpreters and students will also be connected via Webex simultaneously. This allows them to see each other in real-time.


  • During remote course instruction, SDS will continue to provide support for SDS-approved note-taking accommodations in the online classroom either through the continued use of peer note takers or through technology such as Sonocent or Glean software.
  • Recording your class lecture in Collaborate allows ALL students to more easily take notes as they can replay sections that they may have missed.
  • Faculty are typically not involved in the note-taking process as students can record lectures using their own portable devices and software if they have that accommodation (note-taking plus audio recording).
  • Students have been advised that any recordings are for educational study only and cannot be shared or distributed. (Audio recording agreement:


If you have students who require a reader or scribe for classes, labs or exams:

  • During remote instruction and testing, SDS will permit a family member on site with the student to act as the scribe or reader. A scribe or reader is only to write or type what the assignment/test says and what the student’s response is; students are aware of this expectation.
  • In the event that this is not an option, SDS will discuss alternative access solutions with the student and may schedule a reader/scribe remotely.
  • If a student needs a remote reader or scribe for an online activity or assessment, they will need to provide SDS with as much advance notice as possible (minimum 2 business days), by emailing a request to SDS at
  • If SDS must secure a remote reader/scribe for a student additional access may be needed. If needed, SDS staff may will email you to request that you add the assigned individual to your Blackboard course. SDS would then create a Webex session between the student and the reader/scribe so that the reader/scribe can access the same material your student needs to view.
  • Depending on the needs of the situation (Collaborate, online test, online lab, etc.) scribes may need to submit the material or test answers to you in an alternative format such as via email or a secure Box link. SDS staff will work with you to develop the best possible process given the resources available.
  • Note: Assigned readers and scribes may change according to staff availability.


  • Faculty are encouraged to think flexibly in honoring disability accommodations. Please review current guidance from the Provost’s office regarding COVID19-related requests from students. Here is the link to the Provost’s communication:
  • Remember that flexing a course standard can provide an alternate way for a student to meet essential course requirements and learning objectives, yet still allow active participation in the course while managing their disability.
  • When disability-related absences have occurred/will occur, students are responsible for contacting the faculty member and/or SDS as soon as possible to arrange alternate due date(s).
  • When approved, these accommodations are clearly supported by confidential disability/medical documentation held by SDS.