Accessible online courses

Creating accessible content for online courses is more vital than ever for our students' success. You may be surprised at how many students in your course have disabilities.

of U.S. undergrads have
a reported disability

of student veterans*
have a reported disability


Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2021)
* There are over 7000 student veterans at ASU.


If that number seems high, consider this: Many students have invisible disabilities, such as ADHD, dyslexia, diabetes, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, and other conditions. In addition, many students with disabilities do not register with Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services (SAILS, ASU's disability resource services) because they aren't aware that support is available or they don't want to be identified by their disability.

As instructors, it's our responsibility to ensure that every student who wants to learn can participate fully and equally in our classrooms—even if those classes are now predominately online.

This brief video from ASU Library describes five things you can do today to make your online course more accessible. Also see Accessible Canvas courses and Accessible Canvas quizzes and assignments.


Accessibility basics for instructors

Making online courses accessible involves many of the same concepts used with websites and applications. Here are some guidelines to help you create more accessible online course content.

Don't try to learn all of these at once. Take one concept at a time and apply it to your course. Before you know it, your online courses will be accessible to all!

Video in online courses

Videos should be uploaded to a streaming or hosting service such as MediaPlus or YouTube before embedding them on the page in Canvas. Controls to start and stop the video should be provided on the embedded video within Canvas. Video files should not be uploaded as a file attachment in Canvas. Students should not have to download videos to watch them.

See more on video and video captions.

ASU Library Course Resource Services

Take advantage of the ASU Library's Course Resource Service, which can help you embed accessible library-collection and freely available-online materials of all types into Canvas using the ASU Library Resource Organizer (formerly "Reading List") tool.

The ASU Library can help you:

  • Search for and embed accessible versions of ASU Library-owned materials into your course.
  • Include accessible instructor-owned materials.
  • Digitize articles and book excerpts, according to the ASU Library's copyright and accessibility policy.
  • Digitize and provide accessible streaming audio and video, if guidelines are met.
  • Purchase accessible versions of required materials not owned by the library, if available.

Course Syllabus

A statement describing how students can request disability-related accommodations should be included in your course syllabus. If your school or college doesn't provide boilerplate text, you may use this statement from The Sanford School:

Accommodation of Disabled Students

In compliance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, and the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended (ADAAA) of 2008, professional disability specialists and support staff at the Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services (SAILS) facilitate a comprehensive range of academic support services and accommodations for qualified students with disabilities.

Qualified students with disabilities may be eligible to receive academic support services and accommodations. Eligibility is based on qualifying disability documentation and assessment of individual needs. Students who believe they have a current and essential need for disability accommodations are responsible for requesting accommodations and providing qualifying documentation to SAILS. Every effort is made to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities.

Qualified students who wish to request an accommodation for a disability should contact SAILS by going to, calling (480) 965-1234 or emailing


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