Student Accommodations for Remote Learning

Navigating a remote learning environment can be challenging. SOAR is here to help you with any accessibility needs! SOAR is still operating during normal business hours (Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m). Please email for any questions or concerns. The SOAR staff is available for remote meetings to discuss any accommodation needs or requests.

If you would like to schedule a virtual appointment to ask questions or talk about your accommodations, please email A SOAR staff member will reach out to you ASAP!

Notetaking Assistance

Notetaking Tips

You may think that you don’t need to take notes during your online course, especially if the lecture is recorded, but this is not true. Research shows that note-taking increases retention of information. 

  • Just because you can pause a recorded lecture, doesn’t mean you should pause and write everything down. Too many notes can lead to information overload, limiting the amount of material you are able to recall.
  • Stick to writing down main ideas, key concepts, and new vocabulary words to maximize the efficiency of your note taking.
  • As you watch a lecture or read the class materials, keep a running list of questions you have or points for which you need clarification.
  • Reach out to your professor and ask if you can “meet” with them online or chat by phone.
  • It’s a good idea to review your material right after the online course. The information you’ve just read, heard or watched will still be fresh in your mind, giving you the opportunity to make the most of your notes.
  • Compare notes with a peer.
Livescribe Smart Pen

The Livescribe Smart Pen can be used with the notebook like you would use it in a classroom setting. Be sure the volume is turned up on your computer loud enough so that the pen can record clearly.

It is a good idea to test the pen before an actual lecture. You can pull up an online video and record a couple minutes on your pen. Then listen back and adjust the audio on your computer to ensure the recordings on your pen are clear.

When recording a lecture, be sure to be in a silent room. Do not listen to music or watch the television during lecture.

Sonocent Audio Notetaker

Sonocent will allow you to record from your computer microphone, your computer speaker, or both. In the top left hand corner, under the red “RECORD” button there is a little arrow that will give you three options.

  1. If you are recording a lecture in person, use the “Microphone Only” recording option (this is what you use in your on-campus, in-person lectures)
  2. If you are recording a video lecture, use the “Speakers Only” recording option to only record the audio from the video
  3. If you are recording a live video lecture, use the “Microphone And Speakers” recording option so that the recording will record anything you say (questions group discussions) and also the lecturer speaking

Peer Notetaker

Peer Notetakers are expected to still upload notes to BOX just as they would if they were on campus. Please contact for any questions or concerns.

Test Taking Accommodations

Submitting a Test Reservation

Please submit a test reservation form for every quiz, test, or exam you would like to take using your SOAR approved testing accommodations. We will work directly with faculty to create an equitable testing environment for you.

Please contact if you have any questions or concerns.

Preparing for Your Test in a Low-Distraction Envrionment

Exam Environment

Students are used to coming to our office for a more controlled environment to minimize distractions. To create a similar setting, students need to prepare their space before starting an exam online.

  • Set up your space before taking your exam to minimize distractions. Make the environment feel like a testing environment (in other words, don’t decide to eat your lunch while you are taking your exam or have your television on in the background).
  • Turn off phones.  If you have a landline, set the ringer to silent or low.
  • Place a “do not disturb” or  “testing in progress” sign on your door.
  • Inform family members (who might also be home) that you will be taking an exam for a specific span of time to minimize interruptions.
  • You might want to use a lock down browser if you’re prone to surfing the internet.
  • Have all allowed materials available and organized before starting the exam.
  • At least 15 minutes before the exam, set up your environment to make sure you do not have any computer or internet access issues.
  • If fidgets or music/sound help you, make sure you have these items available.

In General

  • Know the rules and expectations of taking the exam online. Is it open book/ note or are students held to the honor system? Are you being proctored remotely by your professor or a computer program?
  • Can you start the exam at any time or is the exam only available during a certain time frame?
  • If your accommodations allow for breaks during exam, is there a way to pause the exam?
  • Before starting the exam, make sure you know how many questions are on the exam and how much time you have so you can plan accordingly. Since we won’t be there to give a warning, you might want to set a timer to go off 10 minutes before your time is up.
  • Have a clock or timer nearby so you can track how much time you have.
  • Have scrap paper so that you can note questions you want to revisit.
  • Questions may be presented one at a time. It may be more difficult to navigate an exam and go back to review questions. Jot down question numbers and note any questions you may have.
  • If you have clarification questions for your professor, will you be able to reach the professor? How will you do this?  Find out before you take your exam.
  • You may have finally gotten used to the format of your teacher’s in-class exams and suddenly that format might be different as it shifts to an online platform.
    • Reach out to your teachers and ask if the exams will be different.  The more prepared you are with what to expect, the better.
    • If you are suddenly allowed to use notes or access your books during an exam, be careful not to use up all of your time and rely too heavily on these materials.  It is better to put an answer down that you think is correct and then return to that question later if you have time at the end to double check than to spend time searching for each of the answers.

(Maintaining Access to Opportunity In the Face of the Coronavirus Crisis, Disability Access Information and Support, March 16, 2020)

Extended Time on Tests

After submitting a test reservation form, a confirmation will be sent to you, your professor, and the SOAR office. SOAR will work with the professor about proctoring your test. Please contact with any questions or concerns.


Time allotted for class Accommodation Time allotted for SOAR student (minutes) Time allotted for SOAR student (hours and minutes)
50 minutes 1.5 75 minutes 1 hour 15 minutes
50 minutes 2 100 minutes 1 hour 40 minutes
50 minutes 3 150 minutes 2 hours 30 minutes
55 minutes 1.5 83 minutes 1 hour 23 minutes
55 minutes 2 110 minutes 1 hour 50 minutes
55 minutes 3 165 minutes 2 hours 45 minutes
75 minutes 1.5 113 minutes 1 hour 53 minutes
75 minutes 2 150 minutes 2 hours 30 minutes
75 minutes 3 225 minutes 3 hours 45 minutes
2.5 hours 1.5 225 minutes 3 hours 45 minutes
2.5 hours 2 300 minutes 5 hours
2.5 hours 3 450 minutes 7 hours 30 minutes
Final Exams during Remote Learning

With the move to remote learning, final exams will look differently. Because of the changes, we are asking that you complete an updated final exam reservation, even if you previously submitted a final exam reservation prior to spring break.

Here are some things to think about/confirm with your professors:

Will our exam be on Moodle or will it be a take-home exam? If it is on Moodle, do I  need my extended time?  Do I need a proctor for the exam?

  1. If the exam is on Moodle or some other timed platform, please request your extended time by completing a Remote Final Exam Reservation.  Please submit these requests at least 3 days prior to the exam.
  2. If your professor is going to proctor the exam via ZOOM and you need your extended time, please make a Remote Final Exam Reservation! Reservations must be submitted at least 3 days prior to the exam.
  3. If your exam is not timed (such as a paper or project), you do not need to complete a Remote Final Exam Reservation.


If you have questions, please send us an email at OR visit us during our SOAR Zoom Drop-In Office Hours from 1:00-1:30 EST (Monday through Friday).

Alternate Text Accommodations

Document Conversion Request

If you would like an accessible version of a document, please complete the Document Conversion Request.

Depending on the length of the document, please allow 2-5 business days for processing. Once the document is converted, a SOAR staff member will email or share the document with you via a BOX folder.

Please contact for any questions or concerns.

Printed Materials Request

Students who are having difficulty accessing online materials or can’t engage in too much screen time because of their disability can request to have their materials printed and shipped to them. The student or professor needs to complete the Printed Materials Request  and SOAR will take it from there.

Digital Textbook Request

Students may request a digital copy of their textbook. SOAR utilizes several different book repositories to find accessible digital textbooks.

Once you complete the request form, we will email and/or add you to a BOX folder that contains your digital textbook.

Please contact with any questions.

Text-To-Speech on Mac

1. From your desktop select the settings icon as pictured below:

gear icon


2. Select “Accessibility” from the menu as shown below:

settings icons with accessibility icon circled


3. Select “Speech” at the next menu.

in the accessibility features, on the menu on the left, speech is circled


4. Next, select the preferred “Voice” and “Speaking Rate” that you would like.  You can press “Play” to hear a sample.  Once you have customized your voice and reading spead, click to turn on “Speak selected text when the key is pressed”.  *Notice the short cut key to initiate reading aloud is Option + ESC.  You can change the shortcut key if you would like.

in the accessibility setting the speak selected text when the key is pressed is checked


5. Next, open your word document and highlight the text that you would like to be read aloud.  Once highlighted click the keys “Option” + “ESC” from your keyboard and your computer will begin to read the highlighted text aloud.  (Please make sure that your speaker volume is on high enough to hear the audio).

word document open with highlighted text

Text-To-Speech on Windows

1. From your desktop select the settings icon as pictured below:

word document with a comment bubble with a play button circled


Listen to PDF or Word Document

1. Download or save the document you want to be read aloud and go to:


2. Click ” + Open Documents”

screenshot of the natural readers webpage. the open documents button is circled.


3. Click “Open Documents” Again.


4. If the document has “Optical Character Recognition” built into it, simply press the “Play button” at the top of the screen and NaturalReader will begin reading the document aloud.  You can adjust your preferences of voice and Speed from the top menu as well.


If you receive the following error message:


Please don’t upgrade.  Instead, you can submit the article to SOAR and we will convert the document so that it is readable in Natural Reader.  Following is the link to the request form:


*If you prefer to listen to your document using the phone app VoiceDream, simply create a Box folder and upload the document into your newly created folder.  You can then share the document from Box into VoiceDream on your smartphone or iPad.

Read Text on Website

1. Download the app “VoiceDream” from your app store, if you don’t already have it.


2. Once you have the app, access the website using your smartphone or iPad. Below is a screenshot of CNN.Com. Once the website that you want read aloud is loaded click on the “Share button” and then “More” from the menu options as pictured below.


3. Scroll down the menu options and click “Save to Voice Dream”


4. The following screen will appear and allow you to determine how you would like to save the website as either an “ARTICLE”, “PDF” or “Full Text”.  PDF will look more like the original website, whereas the other two options will only show the text that has been stripped from the website.  Once you’ve selected how you would like your document to appear click “Save” at the top right of your screen.


5. You can now close your browser and navigate to your Voice Dream app.  You will land on the homepage of VoiceDream and any documents that you have shared into VoiceDream, including the website, will be visible here.  Simply click on what document you want read.


6. Once the document opens, click the “Play” button or double tap anywhere on the screen where you want it to begin reading aloud.


Please watch this short video on how to read text on a website using VoiceDream.

Using the Dictation App Otter

Please watch this short video on how to use the dictation app Otter. Otter is free to download and a great tool for dictation.

Migraines & Remote Learning

Limit Computer Use
  • Print materials rather than viewing them on the screen.
  • Work in shorter increments and limit screen time as much as possible.
  • When you are working on the computer, reduce your risk of tiring your eyes by constantly focusing on your screen by using the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds.
  • Participate in Zoom calls using video only (email your professor and explain why).
Adjust Workspace
  • Make sure your monitor is placed directly in front of your face to reduce neck strain.
  • Make sure your monitor is at eye level. Put your laptop on top of a box if you need to!
Adjust Computer Display
  • Brightness: Adjust the brightness of your display so it’s approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding workstation.
  • Text size and contrast: Adjust the text size (enlarge) and contrast for comfort. Usually black print on a white background is the best combination.
  • Color temperature: This is a technical term used to describe the spectrum of visible light emitted by a color display. Blue light is short-wavelength visible light that is associated with more eyestrain than longer wavelength hues such as orange and red. Reducing the color temperature of your display lowers the amount of blue light emitted by a color display for better long-term viewing.

Tips for Successful Remote Learning

Furman diamond on foreground of image of bell tower in the evening

Get Organized


  • Create a daily schedule. Be sure to include time to exercise, reflect and laugh. 
  • Schedule a time for each class.
  • Create a to-do list every day.
  • Consider creating an email folder for each course and dump any communication from a class into the class folder. This will help you manage the huge influx of digital information.
  • Use a planner such as the one found on the Center for Academic Success website


Managing Distractions

  • Get rid of all distractions—physical and digital! It is much easier to get distracted when your classes are online. 
  • There are some tools, apps and Chrome extensions that can help you with managing distractions.  ( examples: StayFocusedRescue TimeFreedomMindful Browsing). 
  • Part of managing your distractions will be to claim a study space. 
  • Find a place where you are comfortable but not too comfortable! 
  • Try avoiding doing work on your bed. 
  • Allow yourself to take breaks. Work for 45 minutes and take a 15 minute break. Repeat this cycle.


Staying Motivated

  • Make sure you stay motivated and engaged in this new online environment. Take it just as seriously as you would if you were on campus.
  • Self-determination is a key factor to success. YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS!
  • One key way to do this is to create a daily routine. There are many To-Do List apps that you may find help!
  • It can be isolating to go from an active campus to sitting at home . Stay engaged with family and friends through this stressful experience. Go outside and get some fresh air, if possible.


Ask for Help

Academic coaches, tutorsWriting and Media Lab consultants and SOAR are all available to help you. Email and we will get you connected to the proper folks!