Common Accommodations in Higher Education
The purpose of academic accommodations is to provide an equal opportunity to learn by ensuring access to the learning environment and course content. Accommodations are not designed to provide an unfair advantage or to ensure success. Student Development thoroughly reviews all information provided by the student, supporting documentation, and academic requirements when making accommodation recommendations. Instructor input is appreciated and may be sought out when there are questions about course requirements. Commonly recommended accommodations are explained below; however, the list is not exhaustive. There are times when a more individualized accommodation is justified. Please feel free to contact Student Development if you have questions about the provision of a recommended accommodation for your class.
Extended testing time
Students with processing deficits or physical impairments may require additional time for taking exams and completing in-class assignments. The additional time ensures that a student’s performance demonstrates a mastery of the material rather than their speed. Unless speed is an essential skill being measured, additional time for all exams, in-class work, and labs is reasonable. Under most circumstances, additional time does not apply to work completed outside of class, as all students are expected to manage their time. The amount of additional time required may vary, but generally time and a half is sufficient. The instructor is expected to take primary responsibility in providing the extended time and making the necessary proctoring arrangements. In the event that arrangements cannot be made in the academic department, Student Development provides an alternative testing location as a courtesy with advance notification on the part of the instructor.
Alternate test location
Students with excessive distractibility or anxiety may require a testing location relatively free of distractions. The alternate test location allows the student the opportunity to focus on the exam rather than distractions within the classroom or other students. Generally, any empty, quiet space (outside of the classroom) with adequate lighting and furnishings is appropriate (not a hallway or busy office). While a different location is not a guarantee of absolutely no distractions, it is an effort to provide a quiet space with fewer diversions. The instructor takes primary responsibility in locating an appropriate location in the academic building or department in which the class is held and making the necessary proctoring arrangements. In the event that an appropriate space is not available and/or proctoring arrangements cannot be made in the academic department, Student Development may serve as the alternative testing location with advance notification on the part of the student and instructor.
Students with processing deficits, hearing impairments, or physical limitations may require assistance in recording the content of lectures. Providing a note taker and/or allowing an audio recording in the classroom gives access to the course information which would otherwise be unavailable to the student. Students are encouraged to manage this accommodation on their own, but for various reasons may choose not to do so. In those instances, the University is obligated to assist the student locate a volunteer note taker or otherwise make the lecture information available. The instructor is asked to make an anonymous announcement in class, such as
“A fellow student has requested assistance with note taking. If you are willing to provide a copy of your notes so that these notes may be used by another student, please see me after class.”
Student Development can provide NCR paper and is available to provide note taker training, make copies of the volunteer’s notes, and verify volunteer hours for note takers.
Students with attention deficits or physical disabilities may require preferential seating such as seating near the front of the room or visual aids, unobstructed view of instructor and/or sign language interpreter, and seating near (or away from) windows and doors.
Accessible print materials
Students with visual impairments or learning disabilities may require print material (texts, tests, handouts, etc.) converted to an accessible medium, such as Braille, audio books, electronic books, or large print. Students may be able to access some of these books through LearningAlly or the State Library. Student Development can assist in locating these materials. Student Development can also produce some materials in Braille. Because alternative text production is a time consuming process, as much advance notice in identifying texts or other materials needed is greatly appreciated.
Permission to record lectures
Students with visual impairments, learning disabilities, or physical limitations may need to record the class lecture and discussions in order to have full access to the information. Students will provide their own recording device, but may coordinate with their instructor about the best possible classroom placement. Student Development serves as a resource for questions regarding the recording accommodation.
Consideration for absences
Because of the impact on their ability to consistently attend class, students with physical/health impairments, psychiatric illness, or other limitations may require flexibility in attendance requirements. Flexibility does not mean that attendance policies do not apply. Rather, it requires the instructor to consider the function of attendance for a particular class and make a reasoned decision for the requirement. For some classes (like primarily lecture based classes), attendance may not be essential and a certain amount of leniency can be made. However, in a seminar class or class where group projects are completed, attendance becomes an essential function of the class and absences will interfere with the student’s (and other students') educational experience. Student Development will advocate for class attendance, discuss the potential implications of missed classes, encourage close communication with their instructors and inform students of drop dates and other academic options (Withdrawals, Incompletes, etc).
Hearing impairment services
Students with hearing impairments may require the combination of a variety of accommodations, such as preferential seating, use of a sign language interpreter, captioning/transcription services, or a note taker. Students and instructors are in the best position to manage note takers. Instructors and Student Development can work together to arrange captioning or the provision of transcripts. Student Development will coordinate professional services, such as sign language interpreters or CART providers.
Access to PowerPoint or other class presentation materials
Students with learning, attention, or memory difficulties may may not capture all necessary information during a lecture and/or require frequent review of materials. They may request that course presentation materials be available for review. While instructors are not required to creast new materials to meet this request, it is reasonable to either post available materials via Moodle, distribute printed copies to students, place on reserve at the library, or send to the student via email.
Permission to leave or move about in class
For students with chronic health problems or physical disabilities, sitting and/or remaining in the same position for the duration of a lecture can exacerbate symptoms of the disability. They may also require time to attend to medical needs or medications. It is reasonable to allow these students permission to briefly leave or move about in order to alleviate problems and increase their ability to concentrate. The student is encouraged to discuss seating arrangements and the timing of breaks with the instructor so that disruptions to the rest of the class are minimized.