Frequently Asked Questions


How Do I Find Which Students Have Accommodations: Using the Accommodate Faculty Portal

Accommodate is the new online system for faculty to access accommodation information about their students. The faculty portal is now live and can be accessed from the "Faculty" tab in   MyMadison.

If you have a student who has requested accommodations in your course, you should have received an email notification from with instructions for logging in to your Accommodate Faculty Portal to view and sign the student's Accommodation Letter.

If you have any questions, please contact Disability Services at or 540-568-6705.

Sample Accessibility Statement For Syllabus

James Madison University is committed to access, inclusion, and diversity. If you have a documented disability (or think you may have a disability) and, as a result need reasonable accommodations to participate in this class, complete course requirements, or benefit from the University's programs or services, contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as soon as possible. To receive accommodations, you must be appropriately registered with ODS. The ODS works confidentially in partnership with students, faculty, and other University departments to ensure equal access through Universal Design and reasonable accommodations. The office is located in the Student Success Center, Suite 1202. You may contact them by phone at 540-568-6705 or through email at

Quick Tips for Teaching Online

The Office of Disability Services can help answer questions and provide resources about creating accessible online classes. ODS's Keep Choosing Accessible Learning Materials (C.A.L.M.) campaign offers guidance for making your course materials more accessible, including an expanding range of topics like captioning, color contrast, and alt-text.

Be aware that limited availability of high speed internet will be an issue for some of your students. Several elements of creating a class that's accessible to students with disabilities may also help students in that situation.

Teaching with asynchronous and relatively low-tech tools is often the simplest approach to accessibility. Third-party apps and widgets can be great, but they should be vetted for accessibility before being used.

Live lectures and class discussions may be more effective for small classes. Technology failures and limited internet access are a reality. Likewise, students relying on assistive technology such as screen readers, or who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing, may struggle to keep up with the content.

The following items are the big ticket tips to consider as you set up your class. First, be aware that accommodations for students with disabilities still apply online. ODS will continue working with you to implement accommodations.

  1. Recorded lectures - Whether you teach synchronously or asynchronously, record your lectures and make them available on Canvas. With live lectures, WebEx, Zoom, and TechSmith Relay can all record the sessions. Consider making a transcript by using (contact ODS Accessible Media if you need assistance) and post it on Canvas--or keep your lecture script if you have one and post it. A text transcript can help students with hearing loss, learning disabilities, and limited internet access.
  2. Captioned videos - Try to use only videos that are already captioned. Scroll down to see a great list of tips for locating material that is already captioned. (Unfortunately automatic captions on YouTube are generally not adequately accurate to fully convey information and meaning.)
  3. Tests & Exams using Canvas - Here is how to provide extended time in Canvas for students with that accommodation.
  4. SensusAccess - JMU Libraries' fantastic new document conversion tool SensusAccess is live just in time. Upload materials to the portal and SensusAccess will automatically convert it to formats including audio, eBook, or a text PDF. This can be very helpful to you and your students if you use a lot of scanned PDFs that are image-only.
  5. Accessiblity Checkers - Remember to run Canvas's built in Accessibility Checker as you add content in the Rich Content Editor. Microsoft Office has accessibility checkers in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote that will identify problems and show you how to solve them.


Finding Already Captioned Materials

Full-length video programming produced for broadcast must by law contain closed captions even when posted online. If using an online video that recently aired for broadcast, please check for availability of closed captions.

  • Broadcast news sites are required by law to offer captioned videos clips taken from their broadcast feed. Here is a survey of news services indicating which consistently provide closed captions: Survey of News Sources for Captioning (click on the "News Source Survey" tab)
  • YouTube can be searched using “, cc” after the topic of interest.
    • YouTube’s “English (auto-generated)” captions are not sufficient for providing equal access. Look instead for “English” in the list of languages. These are captions uploaded by the user instead of generated by voice recognition software.
  • TED Talks offer a wide variety of subtitles tracks on their site. The YouTube TED Talks site may not always have captions, so go to the  TED site to find the captioned version. (This does not always include TEDx Talks)
  • Kanopy, LinkedIn Learning, and AlexanderStreet ( available through JMU Libraries) are sites streaming full length educational and documentary programs that are captioned.
  • If you pay for Hulu, Amazon Prime or Netflix, full-length television episodes and films are captioned.
  • PBS offers full-length shows with captions if you are a member.
  • is a crowd source captioning site for online videos from YouTube and Vimeo. You can  browse for already captioned videos.

Additional Universal Design Resources

Inventory of Universal Design "places to start" from Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education by Jay Timothy Dolmage
An exhaustive inventory of Universal Design "places to start". The idea is to try any of these suggestions out in your own classroom, and see where they go.

Equity and Excellence in Higher Education: Universal Course Design
Designed by faculty for faculty, providing tools to increase access for all students, including those with disabilities.

Ten Simple Steps Toward Universal Design of Online Courses
Implementing the principles of universal design in online learning means anticipating the diversity of students that may enroll in your course and planning accordingly. These ten key elements will greatly enhance the accessibility and usability of your course for students with and without disabilities.

WebAIM: Web Accessibility In Mind
Expanding the web's potential for people with disabilities, this site provides comprehensive information and guidance on developing accessible web materials.

General Resources

JMU Disability Resource Website
Assistance for faculty, staff, supervisors, and visitors with their disability related questions or concerns.

JMU Accessiblility Website
James Madison University is committed to providing a campus that is physically and technologically accessible to students, faculty, staff and visitors with disabilities. This website serves as a central information hub for people with disabilities and provides resources for faculty and staff to create an accessible campus experience.

Madison Cares
Madison Cares is a network of university resources to support students in distress.  Fill out the online referral form if a student you know is in need of help.

HDPT Paratransit
Harrisonburg Paratransit is a wheelchair accessible public transportation service operated by the Harrisonburg Department of Public Transportation (HDPT). The service is for persons who cannot use their own vehicle or a transit bus due to a temporary or permanent disability that impairs mobility. To register for HDPT, you must register for services through ODS and submit the Paratransit Registration form. For more information, visit the HDPT page.

DisABILITY Resources Toolbox (DART)
APA's Disability Issues Office has developed this DisABILITY Resources Toolbox (DART) as a central location replete with information and tools psychology training directors and faculty can use to better support students with disabilities. Partly as a result of federal legislation, such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), students with disabilities are pursuing higher education in increasing numbers. The number of students with disabilities enrolled in graduate psychology programs, in particular, continues to grow. Both psychology faculty and students have expressed the need for information about legal issues, accommodation strategies, and resources for working with students who have disabilities.

Do-It Project from the University of Washington
Resources for accommodations and universal design in teaching; DO-IT serves to increase the success of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs and careers. It promotes the use of computer and networking technologies to increase independence, productivity, and participation in education and employment.

Office of Civil Rights Auxiliary Aids and Services for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities
Higher Education's obligations under Section 504 and Title II of the ADA answers questions about tape recording lectures and other concerns faculty may have about legally required accommodations.

National Deaf Center
The mission of the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes is to  provide evidence-based strategies to deaf* individuals, family members, and professionals at the local, state, and national levels with the goal of closing education and employment gaps for deaf individuals.

Student Mental Health and the Law: A Resource for Institutions of Higher Education
This material was developed by mental health experts through The Jed Foundation. Intending to develop awareness on issues or concerns relating to students in institutions of higher education, this document serves only for educational and informational purposes.

The National Rehabilitation Information Center
This online gateway provides an abundance of disability and rehabilitation oriented information organized in a variety of formats designed to make it easy for users to find and use.


Back to Top