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Concerned about online accessibility?

We appreciate all that you do to make course materials accessible to all students! We've created accessibility support pages to help you think through online course accessibility.

Remote Accommodations

Because classes will be meeting remotely, you'll likely be changing the way you implement class accommodations. This will probably be most pronounced with testing accommodations. In order for you to be confident that you are keeping student accommodations consistent through the shift to remote learning, it's a good idea to review all of your students' accommodations.

  1. Log into the Commodore Access Portal (CAP) Instructor Login, also found under Quick Links 👉
  2. Go to the Overview link under Views and Tools on the left side of the CAP
  3. Click the button labeled Export Student Courses with Eligibility to download a CSV spreadsheet:
    screenshot of overview page in commodore access portal with a 1 beside the Overview link, a 2 beside the Export Student Courses with Eligibility button and a 3 beside the downloaded CSV file
  4. Once you've looked through the downloaded list of your students' accommodations, you can begin thinking through how those accommodations will be affected by remote learning. Most accommodations will not change, and some may even be unnecessary with remote learning. However, since students will be testing remotely, you'll need to implement extra test time in Brightspace. You can do the process outlined in the previous link multiple times if you have groups of students receiving different extended test times (1.5x, 2.0x, etc.). Also, if your students receive stop-the-clock breaks, you can build in the appropriate amount of time while setting up Special Access in Brightspace.
  5. If a student has a recording accommodation, follow these instructions for allowing individual Zoom participants to record.

You can also consider using Brightspace's Respondus Lockdown Browser

For further remote teaching options, please consult Vanderbilt's On-demand Learning page.

Also, Aimi Hamraie's article on Accessible Teaching in the Time of COVID-19 is a must-read.

Accessibility Short List

Sharing course materials accessibly is of utmost importance.

Possible access barriers

  • Students with reduced vision will miss out on unspoken (non-narrated) visual elements in videos of professors teaching either through screencasts or videos of them presenting at a white board
  • Students with reduced hearing will not be able to use videos that are not captioned
  • Students with print disabilities (dyslexia, blindness, etc.) will not be able to use low-quality scans of pages in books that are uploaded to Brightspace
    • Even if these are OCR’d, they are likely to not read correctly if they are not straightened, high-quality scans of the pages pressed down on the scan bed
  • Students using assistive tech to interact with testing materials may encounter many problems from the above issues, along with the tests themselves not working well with assistive tech


In order to keep instruction accessible to all students, please follow these basic guidelines:

  1. Caption videos and transcribe audio content, remembering to edit machine-created captions.
  2. Narrate as much visual content as feasible when creating videos or presenting via Zoom.

  3. Share documents as Word files to increase readability with assistive software, using accessible authoring practices.

  4. When creating scans of print material (books, articles, etc.), please be sure to press down on the book spine and/or close the lid of the scanner to ensure that the text is not curved in the resulting scan. Curved text is not able to be converted into machine-readable text.

  5. Use Brightspace's built-in Accessibility Checker.

    • To run the checker, click the Check Accessibility button in the bottom toolbar of the HTML editor:checker icon is an eyeball with a checkmark under it
  6. Use Brightspace's Quiz Tool to create accessible exams and quizzes.

  7. Offer outlines and other scaffolding tools to help students learn.

  8. Allow adequate time for activities, projects, and tests (e.g., give details of project assignments in the syllabus so that students can start working on them early).

  9. Provide options for communicating and collaborating that are accessible to individuals with a variety of disabilities.

  10. Provide options for demonstrating learning (e.g., different types of test items, portfolios, presentations, discussions).

- some content adapted from 20 Tips for Teaching an Accessible Online Course

For a more complete set of instructions for creating accessible course resources, visit Explore Access's Designing an Accessible Online Course page

Using the Commodore Access Portal

Classroom Accessibility

Vanderbilt University is committed to providing accessible information, materials, and technologies to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to university resources comparable to access that is available to others.

Students with disabilities are afforded rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. These rights grant equal opportunity and access to an education.

Student Access acts as an initial point of contact, conduit of information, and provisioner in matters related to disability accommodation, access, and awareness.

However, Vanderbilt faculty and staff strive to build accessible instructional and informational materials, thus reducing the need for the SAS's support and accommodations. Please let us know if we can aid you in learning how to create accessible materials, and we will do our best to provide resources.