Student FAQ's- Online Instruction for Students with Disabilities

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers- Online Instruction for Students with Disabilities

(Updated 8/6/2021)

Q: Are the Offices of Disability Services (ODS) operational at every Rutgers campus?   

A: Yes, the Offices of Disability Services at each Rutgers campus are still operating Monday – Friday. However, some employees at each office are working remotely.  For the most up to date operating status of each ODS office, please see the alert at the top of the ODS home page.

If you have questions or concerns or simply need to reach out to someone in ODS, please refer to our Contact Us page for a list of all campus Disability Services staff.

Q:  Will I receive my approved accommodations if my course is online?

Yes, the student accommodations outlined in the Letter of Accommodations provided by the Office of Disability Services are still relevant.  However, how they are implemented in an online environment may need to be adapted or adjusted and will depend on specific course platforms, content, and assessments.  We ask that everyone be as flexible as possible as these nuances are worked out. Please review the information we have developed about how some of the most common accommodations work in an online environment, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your ODS Coordinator with any questions or concerns.

Q: What can I do if I am having difficulty fully accessing materials online? Can I update my accommodations?

Yes. We recognize that existing accommodations may not be applicable or compatible with instruction occurring in an online environment. Students having difficulty accessing course content due to the change to an online format should contact their coordinator to discuss the possibility of additional accommodations. 

Q: Can I register with ODS if the semester already started?

Yes, you can register at any time. We understand that some students with disabilities may have elected not to register their disability previously with ODS or have disabilities that are new or progressing, and may wish to do so at this time. To begin, please go to our registration page to review the process and complete the registration form.

Q: How do I share my Letter of Accommodations with instructors if my class is online?

You are provided an electronic copy of your Letter of Accommodations, and it is best to share this with your instructor by sending a copy via email.  If you need a new electronic copy for any reason, especially if your accommodations have recently changed, please complete the Letter of Accommodations request form.  Please view the Letter of Accommodations video tutorials for more information.

Q: What happens if my exams are online? How do I get extended time for an online exam?  

It is important that you communicate with your instructors at the beginning of your class to discuss how your exam accommodations will be implemented.  Your instructor must add accommodations such as extra time within the Learning Management System for you.  However, they might not remember to do this unless you reach out to remind them. ODS is available to instructors and students to consult about unique circumstances regarding accommodations for online courses. Please refer to our page about how accommodations work in an online environment for more information.

  • Some instructors may opt for alternative assessments (e.g. essays, research papers,etc.) which would not require exam accommodations.  
  • If your instructor is creating online timed exams, please notify your instructor if extended time is one of your approved accommodations and you would like to use it for the exam. Academic departments are responsible for setting up extended testing time in your Learning Management systems (Blackboard, Canvas and Sakai). We have developed online tutorials for faculty on how to do this.

Q: What if I log into my online exam or quiz and my additional time has not been added?

As a reminder, you must share your LOA with your professor and arrange any accommodations needed directly with them prior to the exam. If you have taken all these steps, and your time is not correct, log out of the exam immediately and contact your professor. We also suggest you copy the Office of Disability Services on your communication.

Q: What if I have a question for my professor while I am taking an online quiz or exam?

We strongly encourage you to talk with your faculty member in advance of the test or quiz to determine how (or if) they will be responding to questions during the exam. Each faculty member may have a different approach depending on how they are conducting the assessment.

Q: Will ODS be able to proctor my exams in person if I need this?

Many exams and quizzes have moved to online systems within your Learning Management System (Canvas, Sakai, or Blackboard) and some may be using online proctoring software.  Please see our Technology Information Page for COVID-19 and Online Learning for more information on exam accommodations and proctoring systems. 

We will have extremely limited space in our test center for student's who need an in person exam proctored. It is very important that you submit an exam request form as early as possible if you anticipate needing to test with us, so that we can make the appropriate arrangements.

If you have questions or concerns about how this will work for you please contact your ODS Coordinator as soon as possible so they can work with you and your faculty on a possible solution. 

Q: Where can I find more information about how to take a class online?

The technology resources page for Rutgers students has the latest updates and information about videoconferencing, learning management systems, and getting help with technology services and systems.  If any student, including those with disabilities, has general technology or learning management system related questions not related to their disability the fastest method of obtaining answers is to reach out to the Office of Information Technology Help Desk.

If you will be using Canvas, we encourage you to explore the self paced Student Orientation Tutorial for more information about getting started with, and navigating a course in Canvas.

The Learning Centers have also developed a number of tutorials to assist students who need information about how to succeed in an online class.

We encourage you to take some time reviewing the available resources. 

Q: I would like to participate in a study group and meet with an academic coach. Can I still do that?

For the Fall 2021 semester the New Brunswick Learning Center is offering services in both an online and in person format. Please visit the Learning Center website for additional details.

For Newark students, Student Support, such as the Learning Center and Writing Center, will be continuing in an online format. Please visit the Student Support website for additional details.

Q: I currently have note taking accommodations. Now that class is online, will I still receive a copy of the notes?  

Yes, but you may find that you no longer need note taking due to the course design changes. For example, your class may move to content that is largely all readings and papers - activities for which a note taker is not needed. On the other hand, some instructors may still opt for scheduled web based class meetings or pre-recorded video lectures where having notes provided would still be applicable. 

For synchronous classes, you may wish to request a peer note-taker or one of our digital note-taking options such as Note Taking Express or Sonocent. For asynchronous classes we do not recommend peer note-takers as not all students will access course contend according to the same schedule. 

If you are unsure which method might work best for you, please refer to our note taking options page for a comparison of the different types of note taking available. You can also refer to our page about how accommodations work in an online environment for more information.  

Q: I'm currently using Note Taking Express. How do I upload an online recording?

For students who are approved for and using Note Taking Express (NTE) we are recommending two programs to assist with creating a recording to upload: Audacity and OBS Studio. You can find more information about both programs on the Online Recordings with NTE page.

Q: I'm having a hard time studying at home. Are there any on campus options for me?

Students who are located near the New Brunswick campus are able to reserve private study space in the Busch, College Avenue and Livingston student centers. Students can reserve space here: