COVID-19 and Students with Different Abilities: Programs, Innovations and Assessment

(Information sourced by IRAP and ILTI, shared 6/19/2020)

All the campus programs for students with different abilities (disabled students) remain open for remote consultation and advising. Most campuses have messages to students posted on their website home pages and/or links to related campus services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans for assessment, modified services, special programs or events related to COVID-19 are noted below by campus.

UC Berkeley

Message to DSP students regarding coronavirus and DSP services.

Berkeley has a fall instructional planning group co-chaired by the current Academic Senate Chair, Oliver O'Reilly, and Undergraduate Dean, Cathy Koshland. One of the sub-working groups is on “DSP: Guidance on Accommodations for Remote Instruction," which is developing guidance for faculty around best practices. The DSP Office has worked to ensure that students with assistive technology needs have what is necessary for them to engage academically. Further, one of the reasons UCB did not buy a tool or service for remote proctoring of exams was the inability of most of those tools to work with students who need certain kinds of accommodations. UC Berkeley recognizes that this is an extremely important topic, and they will continue to do their best to support disabled students during this difficult time.


  • FAQ for faculty & GSIs regarding accommodations in a remote environment.
  • Various workshops from the Center for Teaching & Learning and Digital Learning Services on remote pedagogy, offering best practices around inclusion and accessibility (many examples behind the link)
  • Created an academic accommodations hub.
  • Convened an instructional resilience task force that explicitly considered the needs of DSP students.
  • DSP has worked with Digital Learning Services to test proposed software solutions and create new resources for faculty.
  • DSP staff have participated in all of the instructional resilience committees. 
  • DSP Managers are also providing training for faculty on instruction in the online environment

UC Davis

The SDC team recently hosted a faculty forum where they shared general information, answered questions, and connected faculty with resources to assist them in remote learning environments (Video).

UCD implemented a SensusAccess integration within Canvas (as a result of COVID-19). That integration allows students to convert files into more accessible formats within a course in the Canvas learning management system.

UC Irvine

The Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI) offers a series of remote teaching webinars, which include the topics of inclusive remote teaching, teaching with accessibility, and humanizing remote teaching. In addition, The DTEI team developed a Teaching Accessibility Cheat Sheet and  The Inclusive Remote Teaching Guide for faculty to be mindful of these topics when teaching remotely. There is also a questionnaire in the Canvas course template for faculty to survey students about their remote learning needs as part of the inclusive teaching tool. UCI also formed an IT Accessibility Workgroup with members from related campus units (e.g. OIT, communication, DTEI, UCE, DSC, etc.) to discuss various accessibility issues in its monthly meeting.


Hosted virtual “drop in” for faculty On Fridays, 5/29 and 6/5. The goal was to answer questions about accommodations in the remote learning environment, accessibility of course documents and the online learning environment, and any other questions that needed to be addressed.

“Listening Session for Students with Disabilities” on Monday, June 1. Bruins, Student Affairs leadership asked: What’s working? What are some obstacles and worries? Where do you need more support?”

UC Merced

There are two task forces currently working on Education continuity, and the impact of COVID-19 on disabled students is being discussed in the second task force.

UC Riverside

Exploration Center for Innovative Teaching and Engagement (a.k.a. XCITE) launched Keep Learning: Strategies for Success in Online Learning and Keep Teaching.  Accessibility information is included.

XCITE has provided workshops for instructors on using online tools, including how to use accessibility features.

The Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education launched a Fireside Chat series to explore relevant topics during COVID-19.

The Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) has worked with faculty to provide ASL/CART for students needing them in courses through online platforms.

  • SDRC is processing requests from students for alternate media, through electronic sources when possible, but has also established a process to manage materials for conversion when electronic sources cannot be found.
  • SDRC updated language on accommodation letters in response to challenges presented in the remote environment.
  • SDRC updated accommodation processes to be functional in remote and in-person learning environments.
  • SDRC moved Time Management and Neurodiversity programs to happen virtually, via Zoom.
  • SDRC started weekly virtual student lounge for students to connect and enhance their academic and personal wellness.

UC San Diego

  • The Digital Learning team collaborated with Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) to develop web resources on Digital Accessibility.
  • Working closely with instructors and departments to provide real time captioning and sign language interpreting via Zoom/Streamtext to students who are deaf/hard of hearing.  It should be noted that moving to a completely remote environment has increased the need for captioning as students who were formerly able to use FM systems in the classroom to increase the volume of the instructor’s voice are not able to comprehend as well in the remote environment.
  • Utilizing new vendors and resources to find textbooks (usually free of charge) in electronic formats so that books do not have to be physically cut and scanned.
  • Coordinating with vendors to provide delivery of brailed textbooks directly to the students’ residences.
  • Providing access to AIRA ( to students who are blind or visually impaired in their home environments since they are not within the campus geo-fence.
  • Providing access to Dragon Naturally Speaking so students can dictate word documents orally since they cannot access this software in campus spaces.
  • Updating language on accommodation letters in response to challenges presented in the remote environment.
  • Working with and training staff in the Teaching and Learning Commons on best practices for tutoring and teaching students with disabilities remotely.
  • Automatically carrying over accommodations to the spring and summer quarters, and creating HIPPA compliant protocols with Student Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, and other medical/mental health providers so that students who are requesting accommodations for the first time can provide documentation in a safe and secure manner.

UC Santa Barbara

UCSB formed an Academic Integrity Software Ad Hoc Committee, whose recommendations were taken into account in determining campus policy regarding software solutions to remote assessment. These recommendations included the consideration of accommodation for students who qualify for the Disabled Students Program.

Resources to assist faculty in creating online modules:

Student resources:

UC Santa Cruz

The UCSC Digital Resource Center (DRC) has partnered with student leaders to assess student impact with instruction adjustment through a series of three surveys. This information will be used to plan for resources and advisement during summer and fall quarter classes. 

Online Education (OE)

  • Daily consultations with instructors regarding remote instruction and online education. Accessibility, both in terms of compliance and inclusive teaching, are a core piece of our mission. Consultations about remote instruction always involve conversations about access. 
  • Workshops on using Zoom for instruction, which include a section addressing accessibility-related issues that may arise. 
  • A course on developing online courses that addresses accessibility from the perspectives of access, aesthetics, and equity. 
  • A new instructional tool for media management (Yuja) is being launched, and there has been extensive testing of its performance with auto captioning. 

Additionally, the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning (CITL), which addresses accessibility is working on the following:

  • Like OE, they provide daily consultations about pedagogy, which necessarily address access. 
  • Developed the Keep Teaching website, which addresses accessibility.
  • Developed a workshop on Supporting Student Resilience During Remote Instruction; topics address accessibility. 
  • Monthly gatherings of CITL faculty fellows to discuss pedagogy; accessibility often comes up.