Accessibility & Equity: Part 1

In the Virtual Teaching & Learning Environment

Accessibility for Students with Special Needs

Transitioning to online learning requires a team approach. Working together can help reduce anxiety and make the change to a virtual teaching & learning environment easier. It is important to provide parents with specific office hours and keep in regular contact with them.

Accessibility Guidelines

  1. Identify barriers to learning by using this checklist: Barriers to Accessibility.

  2. Consider the particular needs of your students (check IEPs, determine individual interests, preferences, and home language).

  3. Use closed captioning for live and recorded lessons. Closed captioning ensures that captions are there for students who can benefit from them. They can also be turned off for students who receive too much input.

  4. Use ALT Text with images, screenshots, videos, icons and 3D models. “Alt Text” means inserting brief descriptions of images so students who use text readers for visual support needs can hear a description of the image as needed.

  5. Use Text-to-Speech: Converts any written words into speech.

  6. Allow choice and alternate means to express understanding. In the virtual teaching & learning environment, students can express their understanding orally, in writing, or as a recording.

  7. Maintain Confidentiality: Check with your district for confidentiality guidelines specific to the virtual teaching & learning environment.

Coordinate with Support Staff to Establish Guidelines & Determine Levels of Support

  • Focus on foundational, fundamental skills in reading and math

  • Give “wellness check-ins”

  • Provide immediate and specific feedback

  • Model skills (can be recorded in advance and posted to the online classroom platform to afford students the time to practice the skill)

  • Communicate often with parents, such as offering office hours virtually or via phone

  • Keep frequent data on progress and revisit areas of need

  • Use visuals and closed captions in videos and keep videos short (under 10 minutes)

  • Use larger font

Behavior and Mental Health Support

Check-In / Check-Out: Providing a Daily Support System for Students

Use The “Check-In, Check-Out” (CICO) procedure – a remote teaching behavior intervention that has also been adapted for virtual learning.

  1. Students report in the morning to receive the daily goals.

  2. Students receive feedback throughout the day.

  3. Progress is reviewed at the end of the day.


Such a procedure can be applied at home through web-based conferencing with teachers and support from parents and/or guardians. The CICO procedure can also be done by paraeducators and teacher candidates.

Equity Issues

  • Keep in mind Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs before Bloom’sTaxonomy! Safety and security before academics!

  • Understand that families are diverse and it is important to get to know your families. You can use a family survey or inventory, such as this Family Interview form.

  • Build relationships by checking in often; use paraeducators and teacher candidates as resources.

  • Check internet accessibility for students. Does your district have contingency plan packets?