In the Classroom
Course accommodations provide students with disabilities equal access to the course content and mitigate the impact of the disability on the student’s learning and/or academic performance.
Accommodations often involve modifications of the way in which material is presented or how learning is evaluated. Each individual’s needs are determined on a case-by-case basis. And, because the manner in which learning occurs and is evaluated varies widely by class, accommodations can also differ based on a particular class.
There are two basic types of accommodations and they involve different procedures. See Implementing Accommodations for details.
There are a variety of ways in which faculty provide academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or accommodations. Students present an Access Letter (AL) to the faculty member or the faculty member will receive an email from the Director for leniency accommodations. Privately the faculty member and student are to discuss each of the accommodations and how they will be implemented.
Faculty are to keep the student’s situation as private as possible while arranging accommodations. Faculty are only to speak with each other when formally consulting and then it is appropriate to keep the student anonymous.
Faculty are to receive (and discuss with the student) an AL that describes accommodations each semester and for each class. If a student qualifies for leniency, they are also to respond to the leniency email for each class, each semester. Since students retain the choice of what accommodations to use and different classes have different essential components, consequently the use of accommodations may change from class to class.
An accommodation is considered unreasonable if:
- It poses a direct threat to the health or safety of the individual or others.
- It means making a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum.
- It means making a substantial alteration in the manner in which services are provided.
If the AL dictates an accommodation that the faculty member thinks is unreasonable, the faculty member is encouraged to discuss this situation with the Director as soon as possible and is required to implement the original accommodation while discussions occur so that the student is not disadvantaged in the classroom while the situation is being resolved.
Delays in responding to the leniency email or in implementing accommodations can be construed as a form of discrimination against the student.
Some students have disabilities which make specific manners of evaluation particularly challenging (i.e. a student with a diagnosis of “disorder of written expression” only being evaluated through short essay exams or a student with a hearing disability who is only evaluated by having that student listen and understand information from audio presentations). When the usual manner of evaluation does not allow the student with the disability to have equal access to obtain the knowledge and/or demonstrate the assessed knowledge and it is not considered fundamental to the course, the professor may be required to modify the evaluation method (i.e. provide a multiple-choice exam in lieu of a short essay exam in the first example above).
Hints on implementing specific accommodations can be found here:
Temporary Impairments (Injuries, Illnesses)
Occasionally, students have temporary impairments that require assistance (e.g. broken arm of “writing” hand). The Dean of Students staff will facilitate the necessary assistance for such students.
Faculty who implement Universal Design for Learning concepts may receive ALs that indicate accommodations that are unnecessary in their course. A conversation with the student is still indicated so that the student understands how their needs are being met. If there are any concerns, either the student or the faculty member may contact the Director to resolve the situation.