Frequently Asked Questions by Educators
How do I know when I am providing “accommodations” or when I am over accommodating or going too far?
A basic rule of thumb is that the student should be able to meet the core requirements of the course without adjustment. You should not change the curriculum for the course or modify assignments to the degree that they alter the core requirements. For example, changing in test formats, giving extended time or advanced notice to a student would not be altering the requirement of learning course material, and therefore are within reason. If you feel uncomfortable with an accommodation, refer to the accommodation letter and discuss it with the Office of Accessibility.
How do I set limits or tell a student they are performing poorly in the class without upsetting the student or violating the law?
You should treat a student with a disability as you would any of your students. Follow your normal procedures for a student who is doing poorly in class. Make sure that your specific performance expectations are clearly delineated and communicated, and then track the student's performance, documenting each step.
Do I need to modify my typical grading process for someone with a disability?
Providing an accommodation for a student should not affect the grading process. The accommodation might involve altering the form of evaluation; for example, you might give an exam verbally instead of on paper, or you might change the format from multiple choice to essay. The accommodations will be stated on the student’s accommodation letter. Otherwise, students are required to meet all academic standards regardless of a disability.
If someone cannot do the class work, no matter what accommodations I provide, can I give the student a flunking grade?
Students with disabilities are required to meet the same academic requirements that all students are required to meet. If they cannot meet the standards, then you should grade them as you would any other student.
Who else at the university can I tell about the student’s disability and under what circumstances?
Students’ rights to privacy and confidentiality regarding information about their disability is protected under the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The very fact that a student has a disability is confidential information and therefore can only be shared if the student gives written permission (in the form of a signed release of information). You can consult with the student’s disability specialist as needed.
Does giving extended time on exams give the student with a disability an unfair advantage over other students?
No. The purpose of extended time testing is to minimize the impact of the disability on the student’s performance. Extended time on tests assures equal opportunity to show content mastery by providing time that is necessary to compensate for the disability.
What should I do if I suspect a student has a disability but I have not been notified?
Provide a comprehensive list of available resources such as The Counseling Center, Tutorial Services, the Office of Accessibility, and Student Health Services. Also, include a statement on your syllabus about the Office of Accessibility and review with the whole class.
What if one of my students has requested accommodations that I believe will alter the essential components of my course?
Accommodations based on a disability are intended to remove barriers to learning and demonstration of knowledge between students with disabilities and students without diagnosed disabilities. If a faculty member believes a specific accommodation will fundamentally alter the essential components of the course, the faculty member should contact the Office of Accessibility to discuss the specific nature of the accommodation's impact on the course.
What is my responsibility if a student provides me with a current accommodation letter from the Office of Accessibility but chooses not to use any accommodations in my class? What if the student doesn't ask to use an accommodation until after failing several assignments or exams?
Your responsibility is to provide accommodations for the student when they are requested. It is the student's choice as to which accommodations to use in each of his or her classes. The student has been advised by the Office of Accessibility that accommodations are not retroactive. So, if a student chooses to take a test without extended time and does poorly on the test, the professor does not have to allow the student to retake that test using extended time. The student should notify the professor in advance that he or she will be using extended time on the next test.
Am I required to lower the standards of a required assignment because a student has a disability?
No. The same course standards should be applied to all students within your class. Academic accommodations, as determined by the Office of Accessibility, are put into place to remove the barriers to learning and demonstrating knowledge between students with disabilities and students without disabilities.
If a student discloses a disability after failing an exam or assignment, what should I do?
Academic accommodations cannot be applied retroactively. The faculty member should refer the student directly to the Office of Accessibility to discuss the academic accommodations process.
Do I have any recourse if I disagree with the requested accommodations?
If a faculty member disagrees with a specific accommodation or believes the specific accommodation will fundamentally alter the essential components of the course, the faculty member should contact the Office of Accessibility to discuss the specific nature of the accommodation's impact on the course.
Does granting accommodations to one student provide an unfair advantage over the other students in that class?
Academic accommodations are based on current and appropriate disability documentation which serves to remove barriers to learning and demonstration of knowledge between students with disabilities and students without disabilities in the academic setting.