Digital Accessibility


Digital Accessibility ensures that many in our community can independently and fully participate in learning, teaching, and university life through our technology. It also makes our technology more usable overall for everyone. Students have many benefits when your course design and content are accessible. For example, an accessible course:

  • Accommodates learning disabilities (e.g., hearing impairment, listening fatigue, screen reader)
  • Accommodates learning environment (e.g., audio off, noisy background)
  • Increases cultural awareness (e.g., differences in pronunciation, accent, dialect)
  • Facilitates effective learning (e.g., content access preference, pace preference, pause ability, etc.)
  • Supports Non-native English speakers (e.g., improving language proficiency)

Ensuring that your course design and content are accessible, you send a message to your students that you care about them. You’re also aligning with the values and commitment of UMass Amherst and adhering to the federal and state laws that require higher education institutions to make their electronic and web content accessible to people with disabilities (ADA Title II Regulations, 2016).

The Office of Disability Services helps students get the accommodations they need to provide an equitable educational experience. If you have a student in your course with a documented disability, you can work with the Office of Disability Services to ensure you provide the accommodations your student(s) need. For example, if you have a student with a documented disability in your class, you can have your presentation captions by Cielo24. Moreover, if a student reports a disability or needs accommodation that is not documented, you can direct them to the Office of Disability Services to get them registered and provide them with the support they need.

Best practices for creating an accessible course design

Accessible materials follow standard rules regardless of the tool used. Click each item to expand.

Apply to your course: Resources & Tools 

It is important to ensure that your course content is easily usable by a wide array of learners and contexts. Check the table below to help you make a decision on whether you need captions, transcripts, or audio descriptions to make your content usable and accessible.

Types of Content




Audio-only Content

• Podcast
• Audio Book

Provide a transcript

MS Word
Google Doc

Video-only Content

• Videos without sound
• Recordings of presentation slides without narrations

If information is only communicated visually, provide an audio description.

Zoom Recording
Youtube Studio Editor

Audio-Video Content

• Classroom Lecture Recordings
• Movie

Provide captions and a transcript. If some of the important information is only communicated visually, provide an audio description as well.

• MS Words
• Google Doc
• Zoom Recording
• Echo360
• Camtasia
• Youtube Studio Editor

How to cite this page:

UMass Amherst IDEAS Team. (2024, February). UMass Amherst IDEAS Team. (2024, March). Designing Accessible Online Course.