Resources for Faculty and Staff

COVID-19 letter to faculty

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Online learning is a new endeavor for all of us. Because we haven’t had any online courses before, disability-related barriers to online learning have not been part of the conversation for 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.

500 students are receiving accommodations this semester. It will be crucial to use the faculty portal to myDAC to review each of your students’ individual accommodations to help guide you as to what sorts of things you need to consider when moving your teaching and assessments to an online format. The tutorial for using the faculty portal can be found here. (Remember to set up a VPN connection first if you are accessing myDAC off-campus)

Here are some additional things to remember:

  1. Moodle settings: If giving timed exams over 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.
  2. Notetakers: Student notetakers are asked to take notes on online lectures/Google Meet, etc. just as they would if they were in a physical classroom. The notetakers are instructed, as before, to scan their notes and upload them to myDAC. Students receiving notes as an accommodation will continue to download the notes from myDAC as before. Please consider using Google Meet or Zoom rather than your cell phone for recording lectures. Google Meet or Zoom allow for students to turn on captioning. Instructions are on IT’s Website.
  3. Deadline Extension Consideration may still be necessary per students’ accommodations. In fact the need for which may actually increase given the nature of technology and unexpected issues that can arise with connectivity, but also due to the heightened anxiety during this time. Students should contact you to determine a new due date.
  4. Students with executive functioning disabilities (planning, scheduling, attention/focus) may more than ever benefit from a very structured plan for breaking work up into smaller chunks and having those intermediary deadlines posted and talked about in class discussion.
  5. Scanning and uploading PDFs to Moodle: Make sure scanned materials uploaded to Moodle are clear and easy to read, oriented vertically as read. E-reader software (used by students with an E-Text/Alternative Formats accommodation) can have difficulties reading documents that contain shadows, wavy pages, or have handwriting/underlining on them. DAC can “repair” and make accessible any scanned/photocopied readings you plan to upload. Please email them to We can make repair them, then email them back to you.
If we can be of further assistance, please email Joe ( or Laura ( Additionally, we are available for virtual appointments by using our calendar links:
Joe’s calendar:
Laura’s calendar:
We will be using Google Meet and will add the conferencing function to any appointment you schedule at the above links.
Thank you, and stay well!
Laura Knobel-Piehl
Joe Young

New faculty portal for accommodation letters!

(View myDAC Faculty Portal video)

Instructors may now log into myDAC using their St. Olaf login to access accommodation information specific to the students in their sections. Here you will be able to fill out your section’s Testing Agreement Form, review the students’ accommodation letters, upload your course syllabus, as well as deliver your exam securely to DAC staff for administration of your exam. 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.

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.

Attendance Leniency Considered Accommodation

One situation that can be very tricky to navigate is when a student has a disability that can impact attendance. This link provides some resources for professors 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. That is the point at which the accommodation can no longer be appropriate since accommodations should never interfere with the stated learning outcomes of the course.

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.

Fast Facts for Teaching Students with Disabilities

This set of documents was created by Ohio State University Partnership Grant. The Fast Facts for Faculty publications (listed below) are information briefs designed to help college and university instructors improve the climate and quality of education for students with disabilities. Through focus group discussions, both faculty and students provided a number of recommendations to enhance the teaching-learning process within the classroom. The Fast Facts were developed in response to these recommendations and suggestions. It is important to remember that the pedagogical recommendations included in the Fast Facts are good teaching practices that are useful for all of your students, not just students with disabilities. Below are six of the Fast Facts DAC finds particularly helpful at St. Olaf.

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 a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these. Following these guidelines will also often make your Web content more usable to users in general.