These tips should help you get started with your online course development or migration. Send feedback or questions to

  • Do NOT digitally share scanned, image-only, or other flat-file documents. These documents are not screen readable, and do not permit searching, bookmarks, select/copy/paste, or other features that benefit all learners.
  • Use headings, bookmarks, titles, table of contents, and other techniques to organize documents for easier searching, scanning, and reading.
  • Include descriptive ALT text with images that present content, and indicate images that are purely decorative. If you use complex images like charts or infographics, provide links to resources that fully convey the information in those images.
  • Caption your course videos whenever possible. If you pre-record lectures or other sessions, consider starting with a script and making this available as well.
  • Break up long videos into shorter, well-titled segments. This benefits all learners by making it easier to focus on a specific topic or section of a session or lecture.
  • When you create hyperlinks, use meaningful text that describes the purpose and destination of the link.
  • Use color carefully. Check your foreground and background color combinations for sufficient contrast; do not use color as the only means of differentiating or understanding content.
  • If you deliver your course in ICON, use UDOIT to check the accessibility of content created in Canvas.
  • Word, PowerPoint, Acrobat Pro, and other applications also have onboard accessibility checkers. Use these to identify and address accessibility issues.
  • Some OER authoring tools may reformat embedded content in a way that is not accessible for some users. Keep accessible versions of course materials available for timely distribution.
  • If your course materials link to external websites or other resources, understand that these may have accessibility issues and consider alternative ways to share important information.
  • If you use conferencing applications like Zoom or Skype for real-time sessions, consider which of the platform’s features are usable by everyone. Chat, screen sharing, file sharing, whiteboard, and other conferencing tools may present access issues for some participants.

Other recommendations

Here are some other ways that online instructors can support success for all students, including students with disabilities, regardless of technology.

  • For a variety of reasons, students may be unable to work entirely online. Consider offering assignments, projects, formative assessments, or other activities that allow students to learn offline. Be aware that these must also be accessible.
  • Some students may need extra time to read or process information. Provide digital handouts or other materials in an accessible format so that students can review the content prior to the meeting.
  • Get to know your technology. Passwords, addresses, DUO, file sharing and other processes may look different, depending on your location. Take the time to get to know your technology. Set up and test connections, double-check access to online accounts, make sure your students can access your shared resources.
  • Minimize the number of online tools a student must access to participate in your course. Share online materials and communications in as few dependable places as possible, and make sure your students have access to these. Include instructions for use, and links to any accessibility resources.
  • Let your students know that they are welcome to reach out to you to discuss individual needs regarding access and accommodations.
  • Contact Student Disability Services for guidance on providing accommodations to registered students.

Additional Resources

A diverse selection of resources to help you design, manage, and understand your online course

UDL on Campus from

Executive Functioning in Online Environments

Blended Courses

Media and Materials

Other Resources and Guidelines

University of Iowa ICON support

General Accessibility Design Guidelines (Canvas LMS Community)

Accessibility and Accommodation in Online Courses (University of Maryland)