Accessibility and Online Education Materials

It’s a lot harder to convert in-person materials to accessible online material than you think. And you can’t leave out accessibility.

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC
6 min readMar 17, 2020


Empty theater style classroom with wooden student chairs and a black swivel intructor’s chair

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Each day there are at least a dozen new articles in my LinkedIn feed on converting dead-tree, in-person course materials to online course formats. Maybe 1 in 10 of them (if that) address accessibility, and then usually just in passing like “oh, yeah, remember to caption your videos”

Emergencies are not a valid excuse for leaving children with disabilities behind. Folx, these are all lawsuits waiting to happen. The plaintiffs are winning 98 % of them. Don’t be the one they make the example of.

Continue to follow accommodations identified in 504 plans, IEPs, and by disabled student services

If a school has agreed to a particular set of accommodations such as captioning, an emergency that moves education to the home setting is not a valid excuse for ignoring those agreements.

Not all disabled students have 504 plans, IEPs, or recommendations from disabled student services


  • Some students are just getting by in in-person settings, and will be less successful studying from home
  • Some students don’t realize they are entitled to extra services
  • Some students (and their families) feel that asking for special education is stigmatizing, and so they don’t ask for something that their children could benefit from.
  • Some students have conditions (such as anxiety, clinical depression, autism) that will worsen in isolated settings.



Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.