Faculty Resources

Class photo in shape of letters U and M

Faculty play a critical role in the provision of accommodations. The following resources are available to assist faculty in preparing accessible classes. It is highly recommended that when possible, universal design principles should be implemented. Disability Services is here to assist. The best resource is a properly prepared course and open communication between Disability Services and instructors. 


Please add the following to your course syllabus: "The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to making reasonable, effective and appropriate accommodations to meet the needs of students with disabilities and help create a barrier-free campus. If you have a disability and require accommodations, please register with Disability Services (161 Whitmore Administration building; phone 413-545-0892) to have an accommodation letter sent to your faculty. Information on services and materials for registering are also available on their website www.umass.edu/disability."


By law, all public facing media must be captioned. It is best practice to always use captions in the classroom and on any instructional materials as it benefits multiple learning styles, English language learners and people who are Deaf/HOH, etc. Captioning is required for courses where a Deaf/HOH person is enrolled. When showing films in class, the captioning option should always be selected, regardless of whether there is a Deaf/HOH or student with auditory processing challenges are enrolled. The Instructional Media Lab and IDEAS team can assist you in learning how to provide your own captions. Many programs such as the Microsoft Office Suite and YouTube use AI for captions. These are a helpful tool, but are often inaccurate. Instructors must review content and amend it prior to posting. Free tools on how to caption your materials are also available here. The university has partnered with multiple vendors who can also provide captions for media, however the cost for such services is the responsibility of the department. The IDEAS team can work with you to figure out the most appropriate vendor for your needs. It is the department's responsibility to make sure all instructional materials and media content are fully accessible. Disability Services covers the cost of real time captioning for on site, in person classes and remote synchronous classes for students with disabilities. Other captioning, such as pre-recorded lectures, media created for the course or borrowed from a secondary source, are the financial responsibility of the department to cover. Instructors who are concerned about budgetary restrictions should request funds from the next major budgetary unit, as access to the course is a federally mandated accommodation. It is imperative that no delay occurs in providing access. 

Alternate Formats for Text

All text used in your course should be made available in accessible documents. When texts are selected, it is essential that we can obtain accessible text information. Provide all text information including ISBN numbers on SPIRE when your course information is added. Preparing the text information on your syllabus well in advance of the semester is ideal as  locating accessible text can take time for our office. All scans of documents or notes must be clean (without writing) and single page instead of side-by-side. All text materials (scans, articles, textbooks, novels, etc.) must be available to students 2 weeks in advance of the semester.  


Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing may utilize interpreters or captionists. Interpreters will need to be afforded access to course sites, text and materials for preparation. In the classroom, they will also need proper seating and an appropriate space at the front of the classroom in the line of sight of the person needing the interpreter and/or access to LMS resources for preparation. Students utilizing captioning will need permission to use laptops in the classroom and instructors will either wear portable microphones or place mobile microphones properly in the classroom, depending on the need of the student. 

Audio Descriptions

Students who are Blind or Low vision may utilize Audio Descriptions on any visual media used in courses. Audio Descriptions are an additional narrative track added to media files that provide the necessary auditory information of visual information.  When media files are used, it is essential that we obtain the media file information and file.  Preparing the media information on your syllabus well in advance of the semester is ideal as locating or adding audio descriptions takes a considerable amount of time. Audio Descriptions must be added by a third party vendor and take additional time in advance to add, if they were not produced with the film or procured from a library that has previously added them.