Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Academic accommodations are any adjustments that provide equal academic opportunity for students with disabilities. Academic requirements the University can demonstrate are essential to the program of instruction being pursued by such student or to any directly related licensing requirement will not be regarded as discriminatory (104.44 of Section 504, American Disabilities Act).

  • An academic accommodation form must be presented to faculty at the beginning of each semester to notify them that the student will be receiving accommodations and notify them of the nature of those accommodations. The accommodation letter/s are sent directly to the professor/s by the Accessibility Resources and Testing Center.
  • No student is to receive accommodations unless the instructor has received the notification.
  • The letters are automatically generated by the Accessibility Resources and Testing Center.

The academic accommodation form does not relieve you from attending class, unless absences are indicated in the documentation of the disability.

For summer school programming, the time for notifying the instructor will vary.

Important Notes

Services and accommodations are authorized based on your disability and specific functional limitations. You may not receive all of the accommodations contained in these lists.

Accommodations are not retroactive. They begin only after:

  • Appropriate documentation has been received and accepted by the coordinator of the Accessibility Resources and Testing Center.
  • Accommodation forms have been prepared.
  • The process of establishing accommodations is renewed each semester by the student, who contacts the Accessibility Resources and Testing Center and meets with the staff to review their needs in each specific semester course.

More Information

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD is officially called Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and is a neurologically based medical problem. It is a developmental disability characterized by inattention, impulsivity and sometimes hyperactivity. The results can lead to lifelong problems.

Accommodations may include:

  • Assistive technology (calculator, word processor)
  • Extended time for in class assignments
  • Extended time for testing, less distracting environment
  • Extended time to complete assignments
  • Note-taking
  • Reader
  • Reduced course load
  • Use of tape recorders
  • Use of taped texts

Blind/Impaired Vision

Visual impairments include disorders in the senses of vision that affect the central vision acuity, the field of vision, color perception, or binocular visual function. The American Medical Association defined legal blindness as visual acuity not exceeding 20/200 in the better eye with correction, or a limit in the field of vision that is less than a 20 degree angle (tunnel vision). Legal blindness may be caused by tumors, infections, injuries, retrolental fibroplasis, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes, vascular impairments, or myopia. Visual disabilities vary widely. Some students may use a guide dog, others a white cane, while others may not require any mobility assistance.

Accommodations may include:

  • Advance notice of class schedule or location changes
  • Clear black print on white, pale blue, or pale yellow paper
  • Handouts in the medium that the student prefers
  • Lab assistance
  • Materials presented on the board or on transparencies read out loud
  • Note-taking devices such as pocket Braille computers
  • Passageways kept clear
  • Professors encouraged to use a black felt tip marker on written assignments and white boards
  • Reading lists or syllabi in advance to permit time for transferring into an alternate format
  • Seating in the front of the class without glare from windows
  • Tape recording of lectures and class discussions
  • Testing accommodations: taped tests, reading of tests, scribe, extended time, separate place, enlarged print, computer word processing software with speech access
  • Textbooks ordered in the preferred medium of the student

Closed Head Injury/Traumatic Brain Injury

Head injury is one of the fastest growing types of disabilities, especially, for individuals 15 to 28 years old. More than 500,000 cases are reported in hospitals each year. There is a wide range of differences in the effects of a TBI on the individual, but most cases result in some type of impairment. The functions that may be affected include: memory, cognitive/perceptual communication, speed of thinking, communication, spatial reasoning, conceptualization, psychosocial behaviors, motor abilities, sensory perception, and physical disabilities including speech impairment.

Accommodations may include:

  • Reduced course load
  • Extended time to complete assignments
  • Use of tape recorders
  • Use of taped text
  • Assistive technology (calculator, word processor)
  • Note-taking
  • Reader
  • Extended time for in class assignments
  • Extended time for testing, less distracting environment

Deaf/Impaired Hearing

More individuals in the United States have a hearing impairment than any other type of physical disability. A hearing impairment is any type or degree of auditory impairment while deafness is an inability to use hearing as a means of communication. Hearing loss may be sensorineural, involving an impairment of the auditory nerve; conductive, a defect in the auditory system that interferes with sound reaching the cochlea; or a mixed impairment, involving both sensorineural and conductive. Hearing loss is measured in decibels and may be mild, moderate, or profound. A person who is born with a hearing loss may have language deficiencies and exhibit poor vocabulary and syntax. Many students with hearing loss may use hearing aids and rely on lip reading. Others may require an interpreter.

Accommodations may include:

  • Seating in the front of the classroom
  • Written supplement to oral instructions, assignments, and directions
  • Visual aids as often as possible
  • Speaker facing the class during lectures (overhead vs. whiteboard)
  • Speaker repeating the questions that other students in the class ask
  • Note-taker for class lectures
  • Test accommodations: extended time, separate place, proofreading of essay tests, access to word processor, interpreted directions
  • Unfamiliar vocabulary written on the board or a handout
  • Small amplification system
  • Interpreter seated where the student can see the interpreter and the lecturer
  • Excess noise reduced as much as possible to facilitate communication
  • Instructor facing the student who is lip reading, speaking slowly, using shorter sentences and appropriate facial expressions and gestures
  • Alternative oral presentations
  • The use of overheads and all types of visual aids providing better communication
  • Copies of PowerPoint slides in advance

Orthopedic/Mobility Disorders

A variety of orthopedic/mobility-related disabilities result from congenital conditions, accidents, or progressive neuromuscular diseases. These disabilities include conditions such as spinal cord injury (paraplegia or quadriplegia), cerebral palsy, spina bifida, amputation, muscular dystrophy, cardiac conditions, cystic fibrosis, paralysis, polio/post polio, and stroke. Functional limitations and abilities vary widely even within one group of disabilities. Accommodations vary greatly and can best be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Accommodations may include:

  • Accessible location for the classroom and place for faculty to meet with student
  • Extra time to get from one class to another, especially, in inclement weather
  • Special seating in classrooms
  • Note-takers, use of tape recorders, laptop computers, or photocopying of peer notes
  • Test accommodations: extended time, separate place, scribes, access to word processors
  • Special computer equipment/software: voice-activated word processing, word prediction, keyboard modification
  • Extra time for assignments due to slow writing speed
  • Adjustable lab tables or training tables for classes taught in lab settings
  • Lab assistance
  • Accessible parking in close proximity to the building
  • Customized physical education class activities that allow the student to participate within their capabilities
  • Taped texts
  • Advance planning for field trips to ensure accessibility (if the university provides student transportation, it must provide accessible transportation on a field trip)

Other Disorders: Primarily, Systemic Disorders

There are students with disabilities that originate from a systemic disorder. The degree to which these disabilities affect students in the academic setting vary widely. At times, it is not the condition itself but the medication that is required to control symptoms that impairs academic performance. Common side effects of medications include fatigue, memory loss, shortened attention span, loss of concentration, and drowsiness. In some cases, the degree of impairment may vary from time to time because of the nature of the disability or the medication. Some conditions are progressive and others may be stable.

A partial list of other disabilities:

  • AIDS
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Burns
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Chronic pain
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Hemophilia
  • Lupus
  • Motor neuron diseases
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Renal-kidney disease
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Stroke
  • Tourette syndrome

Some accommodations may include:

  • Adaptive equipment
  • Enlarged printed materials
  • Extended time for exams
  • Extension of time to complete papers/projects
  • Flexibility in attendance requirements in case of health-related absences
  • Readers
  • Scribes
  • Tape-recorded course materials

Psychiatric/Psychological Disorders

Psychiatric/psychological disorders cover a wide range of disorders such as neuroses, psychoses, and personality disorders as well as dissociative disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. A great majority of those disorders are listed in the DSM-IV. The majority of these disorders are controlled using a combination of medications and therapy. Problems may also occur from the side effects of the medication. There are not many legal precedents, but it is probable based on other types of court rulings that some of the following accommodations may be considered appropriate and reasonable.

Accommodations may include:

  • Extended time for exams, less distracting environment
  • Flexibility in the attendance requirements in case of health-related absences
  • Incompletes or late withdrawals in place of course failures in the event of prolonged illness
  • Note-takers, readers or taped lectures

Specific Learning Disabilities

A learning disability is a permanent neurological disorder that affects the manner in which information is received, organized, remembered, and then retrieved or expressed. Students with learning disabilities possess average to above average intelligence.

Terms associated with learning disabilities include:

  • Dyslexia – inability to read
  • Dyscalculia – inability to do mathematics
  • Dysgraphia – inability to write words with appropriate syntax
  • Dysphasia – inability to speak with fluency or sometimes to understand others
  • Figure-ground perception – inability to see an object from a background of other objects
  • Visual discrimination- inability to see the difference in objects
  • Auditory figure-ground perception – inability to hear one sound among others
  • Auditory sequencing – inability to hear sounds in the right order

Accommodations may include:

  • Assistive technology (calculator, word processor)
  • Extended time for in class assignments
  • Extended time for testing, less distracting environment
  • Extended time to complete assignments
  • Note-taking
  • Reader
  • Reduced course load
  • Use of tape recorders
  • Use of taped texts

Vision Disorders: Not Acuity

Learning-related visual disabilities include, but are not limited to ocular mobility dysfunction/eye movement disorders, vergence dysfunction/inefficiency in using both eyes together, strabismus/misalignment of the eyes, amblyopia/lazy disorders, and motor integration. The functional limitation varies according to the intensity of the problem.

Accommodations may include:

  • Preferential seating (avoiding seats where there is a glare from light)
  • Taking frequent breaks to rest eyes
  • Experimenting with various colors of paper for testing
  • Using readers for tests
  • Using extended time for testing
  • Using a guide for reading

Temporary Medical Condition

Some disabling conditions are temporary but may require accommodations for a limited time. Students who are recovering from surgery, injury or severe illness may be unaware of accommodations that may be reasonable for a limited time period. Encouragement to contact the Accessibility Resources and Testing Center may prevent students from dropping out of school. Documentation is also requested for temporary disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are determined based on the nature of the medical condition. (This service is not a requirement of the law but a humane consideration that might be accommodated in another program of student services.)

Some accommodations may include:

  • Depending on the condition, any accommodations for all other disabilities may be appropriate
  • Determining if the student qualifies for an incomplete and collaborating with the instructor
  • Requesting for a volunteer to share notes and gather handouts
  • Taking make-up exams in the Testing Center
  • Using a liaison with faculty regarding absences

For More Information Contact

Vee Lucas
Dir, Accessibility Res/Test
Office Location: Student Academic Services (SAS), Room 177
Phone: 575.562.2280