Different from our on-campus, in-person activities, it is more important than ever to consider digital accessibility during remote instruction and work, as the ease of in-person requests and assistance is not possible. Ensuring an inclusive classroom or office is especially important during this time of remote instruction/work.

Use of Third-party Tools

In addition to the privacy focused Considerations on the Use of Third-party and Social Media Tools, it is important during periods of remote instruction and work to focus on digital accessibility. Our NYU faculty and staff are demonstrating their flexibility and creativity in determining how best to teach classes, convene meetings, and get work done, and they may turn to various third-party software tools to meet the present challenges. While recognizing the unprecedented nature of the current situation, we want to ensure that all of our community members are able to participate fully in the remote classroom/workplace. Anyone requiring the use of non-NYU provided third-party tools for the remote classroom should be aware of the accessibility of these tools, including the applicability of the NYU Web Accessibility policy.

As is our usual practice, the Digital Accessibility Program can assess and advise on accessibility of any given tool.

During the exceptional circumstances presented by this COVID-19 period only, if faculty or staff use third-party software to meet the needs of the classroom or other academic work that may not fully address all accessibility issues (and thus that would normally require assessment  by the Digital Accessibility Program and seeking an exception under the NYU Web Accessibility policy) they must still arrange for an alternative and equal method for accessing the information or engaging with the class. Accommodations must continue to be arranged through the Moses Center for Student Accessibility. Once we return to our on-campus activities, if the tool's continued use is desired, full security and accessibility checks must be done in order to determine whether the software meets NYU's policy.  

Creating Websites, Documents, Emails, Videos

We want to encourage everyone to focus on 4 things:

  1. Use Word or Google Docs
  2. Use PowerPoint or Google Slides
  3. Using contextual links
  4. Creating corrected video captions

Use Word or Google Docs and not PDFs.

It is much easier to make a Word document or Google Doc accessible than to use PDFs, unless you are well acquainted with making accessible PDFs.

Use SensusAccess to improve your existing PDF documents.

SensusAccess is a self-service solution that automates the conversion of documents into a range of alternative formats. The service may be used to convert otherwise inaccessible documents such as image-only pdf files or scanned images into more accessible formats.

Note: This service is not intended to make public-facing content accessible. It is best used for personal, or course-related materials. For example, internal documents or class handouts.

For more information on how to update your public-facing (for example, forms, policy documents), or more complex PDFs (for example, image-heavy documents or brochures/catalogs), please visit our section on Creating Accessible PDFs.

Use PowerPoint or Google Slides.

Use contextual links.

Make sure when you link to another website or document - from an email, website, or document - that you use a link in context. This allows the site visitor to have a better understanding of the link's destination. Non-descriptive link text like "Read More" or "Click Here" do not provide sufficient information for the site visitor. Avoid linking a URL on its own as it is not always descriptive.

For example:

NYU Website

Click here for the NYU website

Learn more about creating meaningful and contextual links.

Create corrected captions for all pre-recorded videos, when possible.

Tool Accessibility


Web and app versions of Zoom are quite accessible.


Google's services will work for those with varying abilities. Google's accessibility page provides instructions for individual applications. Here are various articles of interest:


Review our Getting Started with Cisco Jabber tutorial.

  • Android: Works with TalkBack.
  • Windows: Screen reader users must first install JAWS scripts for screen readers to use the tool with JAWS or NVDA.
  • Mac: Not recommended for use with VoiceOver or keyboard-only.
  • iOS: Not recommended for use with VoiceOver.