In order to have an equal opportunity to convey their knowledge, students with documented disabilities or chronic medical conditions may require reasonable accommodations. A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, facility, or activity that enables qualified persons with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their ability.
Reasonable accommodations should not alter a course’s essential components or in any way “water down” the curriculum or the standards of the institution. Accommodations are not to compromise the integrity of the learning objectives or course goals. They simply afford students with disabilities a level playing field in order to learn and to demonstrate knowledge.
Below are more common accommodations that you may see on a student’s Faculty Notification Letter as well as a brief description.
- Extended time. Time and a half or double time is most standard. This accommodation addresses many limitations (lack of focus, anxiety, processing speed issues, reading disorders, compromised memory, etc.).
- Quiet environment to test. Reduced Distraction Environment (quiet location separate from the classroom), or Private Room are most standard. This accommodation addresses issues of concentration, lack of focus, use of assistive technology, anxiety, space to address chronic medical conditions, etc.)
- Computer Access. For certain disabilities, i.e., physical limitations, certain processing disorders, students must be able to write answers to essay questions on the computer.
- Rest/Medication Breaks. Students may need to leave class for a short period of time to accommodate their medical condition. Some students may need to stand (or sit) for a short amount of time.
- Volunteer Notetaker. If a student has requested a volunteer notetaker from the class, the Disability Services office will contact the instructor if necessary and discuss procedures. Often students are able to make these arrangements themselves.
- Access to lecture PowerPoints before class. Students with certain disabilities (ADHD, specific learning disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, information processing disorders) have great difficulty writing down information posted on PowerPoints and capturing what the lecturer is saying at the same time, due to processing speed limitations or reduced ability to retain information in memory for several seconds/minutes. Having access to PowerPoints before class reduces the amount of material a student has to capture and increases a student’s understanding of the material heard in class. Instructors, who are concerned about posting PowerPoints before class or sending them electronically to a student, may instead give a student a paper copy as they enter the classroom.
- Digital Recorder/”Smart Pen” (Livescribe). Students with processing disorders/memory loss benefit from recording lectures.
- Laptop usage. Certain limitations require that a student take notes on their computer as opposed to handwriting.
- Closed captioned/transcribed audio materials. Deaf or Hard of Hearing students must have audio materials transcribed or closed captioned. This accommodation also assists students with auditory processing disorders. The Access Center will inform all instructors if they have a deaf or hard of hearing student in their course to expedite the closed captioning process. NOTE: All students who record lectures or who receive lecture notes/PowerPoints as accommodations sign a Content and Materials Usage Agreement, agreeing they will not share materials received as an accommodation.
- Other Accommodations: The nature of certain disabilities sometimes require accommodations that are out of the ordinary, such as taking a test in an alternate format (oral exams instead of written exams, an essay exam instead of multiple choice, etc.), or the ability to take an exam over a span of several days or the ability to give an oral presentation to only the instructor. Please note that these accommodations will only be put into place after the student’s Disability Services Advisor consults with the course instructor.
For students with certain disabilities or chronic medical conditions (chronic migraines, seizure disorders, sleep disorders, cancer treatment), flexible attendance is considered a reasonable accommodation. Students are required to meet with each of their faculty members to discuss their attendance needs and to complete a Flexible Agreement Form before attendance becomes an issue. (This form will be included with a student’s Faculty Notification Letter.)
Please note: The student and faculty member must engage in a conversation to arrive at a reasonable agreement for flexible attendance. If there is an issue in coming to agreement with the terms of the Flexible Attendance Form, the faculty and student must involve the Disability Services office in the discussion. Please carefully read Flexible Attendance Guidelines to understand the procedures and student and faculty responsibilities
Approved Service Animal
Students with certain disabilities benefit from the assistance of a trained service animal (dogs or miniature horses, as defined by the ADA). Service animals are not required to be approved through the Access Center, unless students reside in university housing.
Instructors may ask a student with a service animal two questions:
- Is this animal required due to a disability (yes/no);
- What task is the animal trained to perform?
Instructors may not ask the animal to perform the task. Service animals must be behaved at all times. If they are not behaved, instructors have the right to ask the student to remove the animal.
In the case of medical emergencies in the classroom, faculty are asked to call 911 to request assistance.