Resources for Faculty and Staff

DAC Letter to Faculty – Tips for Hybrid/Online Accommodations

Fall, 2020
Dear Faculty and Staff:

Hybrid and online learning are new endeavors for all of us. Because they are not our norm, disability-related barriers to these styles of learning can be brand new to the conversation for all of us–including the students receiving accommodations! Therefore, Laura Knobel-Piehl and Joe Young are available to address any new issues as they come up. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Based on recent trends at St. Olaf, we expect at least 500 students to be using disability accommodations this fall. The faculty portal to myDAC will be an invaluable resource to help you keep track of each of your students’ individual accommodations. The tutorial for using the faculty portal can be found here.

Additional things to remember this fall for hybrid or all-online courses:

  1. General Reminder on Accommodations: If a student requests you to make an accommodation for them and you haven’t received an official accommodation letter from Disability and Access (DAC) please refer the student to DAC to start the process of setting up reasonable accommodations. You will then receive an official Accommodation Letter from DAC staff, as well as have access to the information through the myDAC Faculty Portal. If any accommodation results in a fundamental alteration of your course, please contact DAC staff immediately. Together, we can determine a better way to accommodate the student which does not change the essential elements of your course.
  2. Accommodations for exams: Given the shortage of classrooms and accommodation testing rooms during social distancing, please consider other assessment options that do not require students to take an in-person, timed exam.
  3. Moodle settings for exams: If giving timed exams in Moodle, please ensure that the time allocation for the exam is changed to accommodate 1.5x or 2x time for appropriate students when designated by the student’s accommodation.
  4. Synchronous Online Classes: For synchronous online meetings, please consider using Google Meet or Zoom. These allow for students to turn on captioning in case they are in a non-private setting and can’t have the volume on (such as their dorm when their roommate is still sleeping), or if they are hearing-impaired, or if they are in a noisy environment. Instructions are on IT’s Website.
  5. Recordings: If creating recordings for class, please consider using Panopto and turning automatic captioning on. Students are often in non-private settings and cannot have the volume on, or may be hearing-impaired or dealing with background noise.
  6. Outdoor Classes: It is important to remember that not all disabilities are visible/apparent, nor have all students chosen to register with Disability and Access. The ability to attend a meeting or class outdoors may not be possible for many students due to mobility, sun exposure/medications, allergy/asthma concerns, migraines, or simply acoustics and ability to hear well. If deciding to move instruction or meetings outdoors, please consider anonymously surveying your class ahead of time to determine your students’ ability to be outdoors, and to determine alternatives which provide equal integration into class.
  7. Deadline Extension Consideration: Extensions can be necessary per students’ accommodations. During hybrid or online learning, the need for extensions may actually increase given the nature of technology and unexpected issues that can arise with connectivity, but also due to the heightened anxiety and other mental health conditions. Students with this accommodation are instructed to contact you to determine a new due date.
  8. Scanning and uploading PDFs to Moodle: In order for students to make use of screen reader/text-to-speech functionality, any material you scan and uploaded to Moodle need to be oriented vertically, and clear and easy to read. Software (used by students with an E-Text/Alternative Formats accommodation) cannot interpret and read words that fall in the shadows, wavy pages, or ones having been obscured with highlights or underlines that cross into the letters.Sometimes, the only version of the text you have fall into one or more of the categories above. If this is the case, DAC can “repair” and make accessible any scanned/photocopied readings you plan to upload. Please email them to We will email the copy back to you after repair for you to upload to your Moodle page.

If we can be of further assistance, please email Laura ( or Joe ( Additionally, we are available for virtual appointments by using our calendar link:

Thank you, and stay well!

Laura Knobel-Piehl
Joe Young 

myDAC Faculty Portal

(View myDAC Faculty Portal video)

Instructors may access myDAC (Accommodations Management System) through a faculty portal to access accommodation information specific to the students in your sections:

Here you will be able to fill out your section’s Testing Agreement Form, review the students’ accommodation letters, and upload your course syllabus. Please watch for detailed instruction on how to use. If you’d like a quick demo over the phone, please call Laura or Joe at 507-786-3288.

Syllabus Statements

Please consider using these suggested statements from the student life committee’s page in your syllabus to encourage students with disabilities to notify you of their academic accommodations in a timely manner.

Designing an Accessible Online Course

This resource is a toolkit from the University of Arkansas with some helpful tips on various aspects of accessible online course design, including suggestions for Word docs, PowerPoints, PDFs, recordings, videos, captioning, and more.

Managing Disability Accommodations

When a student with disabilities is approved for academic accommodations, you will receive an Accommodation Letter from the student’s Access Specialist in Disability and Access (DAC). This letter is valid for the current semester only. Please review the important information in this link to learn procedures for managing these accommodations. All accommodation letters can be viewed in one place for your courses in the Faculty Portal of myDAC

Attendance Leniency Considered” Accommodation

We use the term “Considered” intentionally. For some courses, multiple absences fundamentally interferes with the essential elements of the course. This link provides some resources for faculty in helping determine an appropriate amount of disability-related absences that can be considered before the Essential Learning Outcomes for the class are now in jeopardy–the point at which the accommodation can no longer be granted. Remember: accommodations should never interfere with the stated learning outcomes of the course. If they do, it is important to call the Accessibility Specialist and determine if there are any alternatives.

Suggested Form For Gathering Student Information

Some instructors like having their students provide some background information to assist in learning about their students. It can be tricky to ask about accommodations while being sensitive to a student’s right to privacy. Follow this link for a suggested form you can use for your class.

Universal Design: Fast Facts for Faculty

The following Fast Facts for Faculty are a set of documents created by the Ohio State University Partnership Grant. They are briefs designed to help college and university instructors improve the climate and quality of education for students of all backgrounds and abilities.

More on Universal Design for Learning

If you are looking for more idea on Universal Design for Learning, the following websites are helpful:

Web Accessibility

Following these guidelines will make content accessible to as many people as possible.