Connecting With Disability Resources

Disability Resources is currently open Monday through Friday from 8:00am - 4:30pm.  We are also using Zoom, email, & phone to discuss accommodations that will ensure access to the programs and services at UMD. 

If you are a new student and wish to get connected with Disability Resources, please start by submitting our online Request for Accommodations form.  You can learn more about the accommodations process by visiting our Get Connected page.

If you are already connected with Disability Resources and want to update your fall semester accommodation letters, please go to the “Updating Fall Semester Accommodations” section below for more information.

Drop-In Hours

Try to connect with us first via email. Disability Resources will have limited virtual drop-in hours. Here is the Zoom Drop In Link: 

Fall 2021 virtual drop in hours are as follows:

  • Tuesdays 2-3 PM
  • Wednesdays 2-3 PM

Disability Resources Updates

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Updating Fall Semester Accommodations

Whether your courses are remote, online, blended or in-person, accommodations will continue to be available to students already connected with Disability Resources

Here’s how you can connect with Disability Resources to update your fall semester accommodations:


You can email your Disability Specialist to request a one-on-one meeting or request updated fall semester accommodation letters. Before emailing to request updated accommodation letters, please do the following:

  • If you are emailing to request a one-on-one meeting, be sure to include 3 or 4 options of days and times that you are available to meet.

  • If you are emailing to request updated accommodation letters be sure to:

    • Attend each class at least one time if your classes are held live via Zoom.

    • Review the course syllabus so you’re familiar with the requirements if your class is a self-paced online course.

    • Make sure your email includes a list of each class and what accommodations need to be in place.

    • Include any other concerns or questions you might have. We understand that the online learning environment may create new barriers to access. Make sure to mention these concerns so we can explore reasonable accommodations.

Use the student portal to get contact info for your Disability Specialist and review your currently approved accommodations. If you need to access a copy of your Letter of Accommodation, you can search your email, contact Disability Resources staff, or download a copy online through your student portal.


Drop-In Hours

Try to connect with us first via email. Disability Resources will have limited virtual drop-in hours. Here is the Zoom Drop In Link: 

Fall 2021 virtual drop in hours are as follows:

  • Tuesdays 2-3 PM
  • Wednesdays 2-3 PM


What to Expect in Disability Resources This Fall

Disability Resources is excited to have students back on campus this fall!  Whether your courses are in-person, blended, remote, or online, accommodations will continue to be available and we’re looking forward to working with you to ensure you have access to your classes.

To make sure everyone can stay safe when visiting Disability Resources, this is what you can expect when visiting our area:

  1. If you are sick, or displaying any COVID symptoms, do not come to Disability Resources.
  2. Please follow the current UMD mask and face covering policy.
  3. Please wait to enter a staff member’s office until you are invited in.  Disability Resources staff will be cleaning between each meeting, and we will need time to get our area ready for you to enter.
  4. Meetings are limited to the student and the Disability Resources staff member only.  Office capacity cannot exceed two people at this time.
  5. Please use hand sanitizer on your way in and out of the office.  Hand sanitizer will be available by the door to each staff office.

Face Coverings

Disability Resources cares about the health and safety of all University community members. 

Please follow the current UMD mask and face covering policy.


Student Resources

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Request Disability Accommodations

  1. Submit the Request for Accommodations Form

    • Complete the Request for Accommodations Form online and provide any available documentation that indicates a history of a disability diagnosis. These steps will save you time later.
    • IMPORTANT: Please note that you should not delay meeting with us out of concern for not having the right paperwork. Each specialist will discuss specific third party documentation needs during the Welcome Meeting and steps you can take after the meeting. Our first priority is meeting with you, not reviewing the paperwork.
  2. Schedule a Welcome Meeting

    • You can email us, call, or visit our office at 258 Kirby Student Center to schedule an appointment. Appointments last approximately 45 – 60 minutes.
  3. Explore Options

    • During the Welcome Meeting, a Disability Specialist will chat with you about the barriers you are experiencing, reasonable accommodations to address the barriers and your next steps. Our goal is to keep the meeting relaxed and comfortable.

      Common Accommodations Available

      Listed below are the most commonly requested accommodations.

      Specific barriers to academic inclusion are discussed with students, and other accommodations may be provided on a case-by-case basis.

      • Test Accommodations
      • Reading Accommodations
      • Note Taking
      • Interpreting
      • Accessible Technology
      • Housing & Dining Accommodations

Managing Online Learning

  • Five Quick Tips for Online Learning
    1. Identify your study space. Where will you study best?
    2. Keep yourself on a schedule. When are you able to focus best?
    3. Remember to take breaks! Walk, stretch, or do something for fun.
    4. How will you track assignments and deadlines? Google calendar, phone reminders, to-do lists and planners are all great options.
    5. Turn off your phone or put it in another room while you’re studying. If you’re doing online coursework, only have tabs open for the course and any linked websites.
  • Adjusting your study strategies during COVID-19
  • Assistive Technology for Everyone Guide
  • Use free resources to your advantage
    1. RedShelf and VitalSource are offering free access to digital textbooks in response to COVID-19 and the shift to online learning.
    2. AIRA is a service that enables blind and low vision people to connect to a live agent who can assist with a variety of tasks. Using the camera on a smart phone the AIRA agent can assist the individual by reading inaccessible documents on a computer screen, read website content, describe images, etc. AIRA is offering college students free access through the end of the spring semester, email [email protected]​​​​​​​
  • Individual support and coaching is available to you from Disability Resources. Please contact your Disability Specialist to further discuss details specific to your need:

Disability Resources Student Portal

Did you know our office now has a Student Portal available to you to assist with your access and accommodation needs?! Here is a brief list of items you can do online through your student portal:

  • View assigned Disability Specialist and contact information
  • View approved accommodations
  • See semester courses, schedules, and any scheduled exams with our office
  • View and download Letters of Accommodation to have on hand and to share with your faculty member again if needed
  • Ability to view and sign a release of information to speak with parents/guardians

Faculty Resources

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Access & Inclusion in the Classroom

Ensuring Access

  • Reasonable accommodations are available to students regardless of the course modality.
  • Students using accommodations will be issued a letter of accommodation that indicates the accommodations necessary for equal access. A copy of this letter is also shared with faculty.
  • Students are advised to follow up with their faculty to ensure that the letter of accommodation has been received.
  • Consider checking in with all students about their access needs in the learning environment.
  • As class delivery modalities shift, access needs may change. It is normal and natural for a student to request accommodations at any point during the semester, especially if there is a change in delivery method.
  • Periodically checking in with students to ensure they have what they need to access the course is a best practice.
  • Remember that Disability Resources is your partner in ensuring access. Please consult with us on disability and access related needs.

Inclusive Design Strategies

There are many things faculty can do to make online courses more accessible to all students. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Record all online livestream video content and make it available on the course website. Consult the Zoom recording guide for instructions.
  • Consider offering flexibility with participation. Must a student participate during the regularly scheduled class time, or may discussion occur outside of class time?
  • Offer students the option to leave their camera (and microphone) off during live Zoom meetings. Students may have a range of reasons for preferring to leave their camera off:
    • Students who are housing insecure and not in an appropriate place to turn on the camera
    • Students who don't have good internet access and will lose the connection if they turn the camera on
    • Student's whose home environment is not conducive to having the camera on
    • Student's participating from their phone in a "parking lot hot spot"

Recording Lectures as an Accommodation & FERPA Guidance

In some instances, access to recorded lectures may be a reasonable accommodation.

We understand that this may raise concerns related to FERPA and student privacy. The Office of Undergraduate Education has developed some FERPA guidance for these changing times. You may wish to view the guidance in its entirety.

FERPA is a broad law that covers all student education records. Everything in Canvas, the discussion board, assignments, and any communication to the student, is a part of a student’s education record and needs to be handled safely.

Guidance from the Office of Undergraduate Education specific to student privacy during recorded course events is below:

Alternative Teaching Formats & FERPA

University tools for online meetings and educational delivery such as ZoomGoogle Hangouts, and Canvas are systems you can use with private student data. To comply with FERPA when using these tools:

  • Generally, you should not record classes using Zoom or similar tools if the recording captures students, unless it will only be shared within that class. (Students taking a class together are expected to be able to see each other.) Remember that names or internet IDs are typically listed as part of a person’s image on Zoom and would be visible in the recording, creating a risk of disclosing private student data if the recording is shared outside of the group taking the same class. Additionally, student photos are private information, posing the same risk if the recording is shared with people outside of the class.
    • The Zoom “Spotlight” feature allows you to record only the presenter.
    • Ideally, you should have consent to record students (or others) before recording them for any purpose. Minnesota state law requires giving notice (Tennessen warning) prior to making a recording of someone.
    • If recordings are necessary for a specific purpose such as turning in an assignment, remember that recordings of students become student education records under FERPA. Save them using a university approved method (more information below) and only share them with university school officials with a need to know the private student data.
    • If recordings are shared with a class, that must be done carefully. See additional information about communicating with students and using student data below.
    • Using Kaltura & Canvas to record lectures is a great option that does not involve recording students.

Template language to use for notice to students / consent:

This course will include video and audio recordings of class lectures and classroom activities. These recordings will be used for educational purposes and the instructor will make these available to students currently enrolled in [class title, number, section]. Students must seek instructor permission to share either course recordings or course content/materials. Similarly, instructors who wish to share Zoom recordings with other sections or classes must seek and document permission from students whose image or voice are in these recordings.

  • Because the settings options on Google Hangouts/Meet are more limited, we do not recommend recording these meetings.
  • Make sure you are using your university account with Zoom or Google Hangouts, and not a personal account you may have registered for with your personal email address.
  • Do not require your students to be identified on social media in order to participate in class or submit assignments (e.g., sharing a Tweet or a public FaceBook post).

Do not hold meetings with your students on other technologies such as FaceTime or Skype; rely on our university-approved options in order to ensure access for students and data privacy.

Disability Resources Responsibilities

Disability Resources is responsible for the coordination of temporary accommodations due to exposure to COVID-19. Certain accommodations may require education about and coordination with auxiliary aids and services. Disability Resources will collaborate with campus departments and appropriate service providers to support faculty and students.

Disability Resources is not responsible for:

  • Administering and proctoring online exams
  • Creating and administering online course material including course content, videos, Zoom or Kaltura
  • Determining if it might be appropriate to issue an ‘Incomplete’ for a course

Faculty Portal

Faculty Portal:  Disability Resources is excited to introduce a portal that allows faculty to view - by class - all students requesting accommodations and their associated accommodation letters.  Take a moment to login and explore, and let us know if you have questions about how to navigate the portal.   Don’t forget to bookmark the faculty portal link so you can easily access it throughout the year!

Universal design:  To make online courses more accessible to all students, consider implementing these simple strategies:

Disability Resources continues to be your partner in ensuring access.  Please connect with the Office of Disability Resources for support and consultation around any student access concerns that may arise.

Disability Accommodations for UMD Employees

Disability accommodations are available to UMD employees through UReturn. Please contact Nancy Erickson ([email protected]) via email to request a confidential consultation.

UMD offers all students, staff, and faculty a free copy of a program called Read and Write Gold. This program allows text to be read back across a variety of venues, including Office products, PDFs, email, and websites. Learn about its full range of capabilities, and access a download link (program is available for both Windows and Mac users) here:

Recognizing Access at UMD

Click the button below to nominate a staff or faculty member who has gone above & beyond with creating meaningful access at UMD!

Recognize Access